MADISON, Ala. - Monday, the Madison City Council held a special called meeting to set a public hearing for next month to discuss the Sequel T.S.I. business license.
Sequel, better known in the city as Three Springs, is a residential treatment facility for at-risk youth.
The council's public hearing, where the community is invited to share their thoughts, concerns, and opinions, will be held on August 14. We understand that the city could suspend, revoke, or continue the license with conditions, during a vote that could happen as soon as after that hearing.
Concerns resurfaced after three teens ran away from the facility last week. Law enforcement located them a short time later. Afterward, Sequel Youth and Family Services released this statement to WHNT News 19:
"We are aware of the recent incident of students leaving the facility without permission. We remain fully focused on the safety and care of the students at Sequel TSI Madison and the local Madison community. Our local operations team has and continues to cooperate with local law enforcement."
City officials said right now, they are on a fact-finding mission regarding Three Springs. Answers will come to light at the public hearing.
"At the public hearing, you will hear the findings and recommendations of the city's police department and the legal department as to the proper path forward," Megan Zingarelli, City Attorney, told the council. "The city's police department is already working very diligently to figure out what happened that led to the escape of the inmates from the facility the other night. And I will be requesting information from the corporation, and also from the state agencies with oversight over Sequel."
The last time the council discussed Three Springs was for a divided vote on the facility's license in 2018. As WHNT News 19 reported, tension there was evident. The city police department was investigating a homicide in which two Three Springs escapees were accused of murder in 2017. Three Springs had said during that 2018 public hearing that it cares for youth that others will not take care of, while other public officials had stated they wanted the facility to move somewhere else.
In the end, a divided council approved the business license with added security requirements. Some of those requirements had to do with notification and communication.
Monday, Mayor Paul Finley stated that those extra steps and requirements were helpful in handling this most recent escape. He encouraged the public to communicate with his office, and the council members, this time too.
"You were heard loud and clear last time. I think in that case, one of the things that came out of that was because we put a conditional business license on there, several procedures were changed At the direction of our police force and through the organization. When something did happen, we were able to address it quickly and get those guys back where they belonged," he said. "We value each and every person that sends us stuff. We will read every bit of it, and then we'll make good factual decisions once we hear everything on the 14th."
Those who were present on behalf of Sequel did not wish to comment when WHNT News 19 asked on Monday.