One Year in, Georgia Juvenile Justice Boss Departs

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After one year in the job, Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice Commissioner Gale Buckner is retiring.

“I am guided to retire from State service after 31-plus years and to begin a career in local government,” Buckner said in a personal letter to department employees on Oct. 2.

Her retirement is effective November 1.

Buckner, a career law enforcement officer, also told employees that she had already been scheduled to retire in Nov. 2011 when Gov. Nathan Deal appointed her to lead the DJJ.

The day Deal announced the appointment, Nov. 7, 2011, an inmate was beaten to death at Augusta’s youth detention center, amidst agency-wide safety and security deficiencies.

“I have stayed with DJJ until that crisis was corrected and I am satisfied the agency is operating on a stable path,” she said.

Buckner now is “to be named Murray County Chief Magistrate,” according to a DJJ statement.

“Commissioner Buckner has done an excellent job and will be missed in her role with DJJ,” said Stephanie Mayfield, a spokesperson with the governor’s office.

It’s not clear who will take over as commissioner; the DJJ board is holding a special meeting on Oct. 3 with a “personnel” item on the agenda. Buckner’s predecessor held the job for less than one year.

Buckner came to the DJJ from the State Board of Pardons and Paroles. Before that, she was executive director of the Governor’s Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, preceded by a career at the GBI.

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