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1 Year Later: Drastic Changes At Woodland Hills

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Posted at 10:10 PM, Sep 02, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-10 13:20:27-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Wednesday there were only 37 students being held at the Woodland Hills Youth Development Center.

It was a stark contrast from one year ago, when nearly that many broke out the night of September 1, 2014.

The low number of inmates has been one of many huge changes made since the escapes and riot at the facility last year.

Department of Children's Services spokesman Rob Johnson said staff there have taken a very different approach to how they discipline the teenagers.

All of those teen inmates, referred to as students, at Woodland Hills have to have multiple felonies on their records to end up at the facility.

Johnson said talking to students and listening to them as opposed to just acting in a "correctional" capacity has drastically reduced the incidents between students and staff.

"Are they exhibiting the kind of behavior that is going to help them succeed when they get out?" Johnson said, describing the therapeutic approach. "As opposed to more of a focus on [controlling bad behavior.]"

Because the number of teenagers held at Woodland Hills has dropped so dramatically, the staff has also been cut.

Thirty-one staff members were laid off earlier this summer.

Also out was the Superintendent and the newly hired Head of Security.

DCS has currently been searching for a new superintendent to take over.