The Departure of a Fine and Caring DJJ Commissioner

It was with great dismay that I received the news of Commissioner Amy Howell’s departure from the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice late Monday evening. Having grown up in the foster care system for close to the first 12 years of my life, and having spent the next eight years in DJJ custody, I can say I was practically raised in the system. Prior to Amy Howell, I have witnessed first-hand the implementation of policy that was far from best practice, and nowhere near in the best interest of the children and youth. I have experienced abuse from staff working closely with youth and observed leadership that did nothing about it. However, the biggest travesty is that no one from the top leadership, in all their meetings pertaining to financial impact and politics, posed the most fundamental question of all time as it relates to serving youth: “What do the youth have to say?”