MADISON, Ala. - The City of Madison has been on edge for weeks, after two escaped teenagers from the Three Springs facility on Brown's Ferry Road were accused of killing 61-year-old Van Johnson.
Johnson's death has now prompted a former employee at Three Springs to come forward to share about conditions inside the youth treatment facility.
If Tracey Jones had only one word to describe what goes on behind those walls, it would be chaotic.
“They’re allowed to cuss you out, they’re allowed to degrade you, they’re allowed to taunt you," said Jones.
She said everything from doors being easy to kick in, to employee key lanyards being easy to steal, has set up the staff for persistent failure.
Jones worked there from 2008-2016 and said more teenagers run away than most people realize.
“I would say there was close to 20-25 maybe even more," said Jones, referring to the number of residents that ran away during her eight year tenure.
Many in the Madison community are now calling on Three Springs to relocate somewhere else, but as Jones points out, you can change the address all you want to, there will still be the same problem.
She said one of the biggest issues she experienced was the lack of staffing.
“When you don’t have the right numbers of staff, you don’t have adequate supervision," she explained.
It was that lack of support staff that eventually ended Jones' career with the facility's parent company, Sequel.
She said she was eventually fired after she walked off the job. It's a decision she still stands behind.
“Kids were defiant, I had them throwing objects at me, yelling out sexually explicit words, very inappropriate words, and it went on for about an hour. So I told my supervisor I've had enough, I’m leaving, I’m not working there by myself," said Jones.
Jones said Alabama needs facilities like Three Springs, but not others run in the same way Sequel operates.
"I don’t feel like any of their policies that they have set are beneficial because they have the same problems every year, it gets worse and worse," she said.
So she's calling on the Madison City Council to revoke their business license on the grounds of public safety, because as long as this facility remains open, Jones believes anyone nearby could be at risk.
"They’re taking in kids that don’t belong in this facility, and that’s a danger to the staff, that’s a danger to the public," said Jones.
We made multiple attempts to contact Sequel, the parent company of the Three Springs facility, but they did not return our calls.
There is a petition online of citizens requesting that the City of Madison permanently lock the doors of the facility. So far, they have just under 500 signatures.