Georgia DJJ Audit of YDC Found Numerous Violations Months Before Detainee Escape

In October, five young detainees escaped from Georgia’s Augusta Youth Development Campus (YDC). Just a few days later, the facility’s then-Director, Ronald Brawner, resigned. An internal audit released last month by the state’s Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) indicates that the facility had numerous departmental policy violations prior to the escape, with an interview conducted earlier in the year revealing that Brawner’s staff failed to maintain proper documentation or develop an emergency plan for the YDC, according to The Augusta Chronicle. Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice Commissioner Avery Niles stated last month that the DJJ told administrators and personnel at the YDC to improve facility safety and make departmental improvements. A late-August DJJ evaluation verified that the facility did not have cooperative agreements in place with emergency officials, such as local police.  Additionally, an auditor determined the YDC was both constructed unsafely and staffed by an “excessive” number of uncertified security personnel.

Former Georgia DJJ Officer Arrested for Alleged Sexual Assault of 14-Year-Old in Custody

A former Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) corrections officer was arrested Wednesday for alleged sex crimes that occurred while she was a staff member at the Regional Youth Detention Center (RYDC) in Gainesville. Ardith Brown faces charges of felony child molestation and sexual assault against persons in custody. Brown was removed from duty at the RYDC and suspended in January after other corrections officers alerted a DJJ Safety and Security Team to evidence of officer misconduct during an unannounced inspection. She was terminated February 2 following a DJJ internal investigation into allegations Brown had an inappropriate relationship with a 14-year-old RYDC resident in DJJ custody. The Gainesville RYDC was the first DJJ secure facility to receive a surprise facility inspection after Commissioner L. Gale Buckner began a system-wide security sweep crackdown following a homicide at the Augusta YDC campus last November.

Indictment in Beating Death at Georgia Youth Detention Center

Michael Everidge was indicted this week in the November beating death of an inmate at an Augusta, Ga. youth detention center. The Richmond County District Attorney brought felony murder charges against 17-year-old Everidge for the death of 19-year-old Jade Holder. Everidge was charged as an adult.

The Department of Juvenile Justice and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation launched a joint investigation in November after Holder was beaten in his cell at the YDC. He died in the hospital the next day.

Investigation Leads to Sex Allegations at Augusta, Georgia Youth Detention Center

The Augusta, Ga. youth detention denter, where a 17-year-old was beaten to death in November, continues to be the focus of an investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI). A team of 20 agents conducted interviews Tuesday as part of the murder probe. They were also there to investigation new allegations of sexual contact (some confirmed) between security personnel and detained youth, according to The Athens Banner-Herald. Gale Buckner, commissioner of the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), briefed members of the Augusta legislative delegation on the ongoing joint investigation by DJJ and GBI.

Razor wire fence borders the Metro Regional Youth Detention center in Atlanta, Ga. JJIE Staff, 2010. File photo.

Employee Misconduct and Violence High At Augusta Georgia Youth Detention Facility

The Augusta, Ga., youth detention facility where a 19-year-old inmate was beaten in November and subsequently died ranks second among Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) facilities in employee misconduct, contraband and altercations between youth and staff. Only the Eastman YDC, according to reports obtained by The Augusta Chronicle, surpassed the Youth Development Campus (YDC) in Augusta. Jade Holder was severely beaten in his cell in Unit 43 of the Augusta YDC Nov. 7. He was pronounced brain dead at the hospital and died the following day.

Razor wire fence borders the Metro Regional Youth Detention center in Atlanta, Ga. JJIE Staff, 2010. File photo.

Captain at YDC Suspended During Investigation Into Inmate’s Death

A captain at the youth detention center in Augusta, Ga., has been suspended as part of an investigation into the death of a 19-year-old inmate Nov. 8, The Augusta Chronicle reported. Jade Holder died of blunt force trauma to the head after being beaten the previous day inside the YDC. Another inmate, 17-year-old Michael Jarod Everidge, was charged with Holder’s murder. Department of Juvenile Justice spokesperson Emily Gest told The Chronicle the captain was suspended with pay pending an investigation into possible misconduct.

How Safe Are Georgia’s Youth Detention Facilities?

The beating death this week of 19-year-old inmate Jade Holder at an Augusta, Ga., Youth Development Campus (YDC) is the latest in a series of incidents that have renewed focus on safety levels within Georgia youth detention facilities. Last week, for the second time in six months, county police were called on to quell a riot at the DeKalb County Regional Youth Detention Center (RYDC). In May, a murder suspect escaped from the DeKalb RYDC, only to be found and returned a few days later. And in July, the Eastman YDC was the scene of a fight that led to an investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI). These incidents have all come after an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice over implementing changes at the facilities, something that was supposed to improve and stabilize the system.

UPDATE: 17-year-old Charged with Murder in Death of Inmate at Georgia Youth Detention Facility

A 17-year-old has been charged with the murder of the 19-year-old inmate at the Augusta Youth Development Campus. Michael Everidge will be charged as an adult and is in the custody of the Georgia Department of Corrections. A statement released by Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal’s office calls the incident  a “travesty.” “The state will fully investigate this alleged crime and report back on the facts,” the statement read, “but initial reports are disturbing. A new commissioner will take over Department of Juvenile Justice next week, and I will work with her to take swift and urgent action in this case.

Augusta-area Teen Accused of Fatally Shooting Friend

An Augusta-area 14-year-old is accused of shooting his neighbor and hiding her body in the woods. Police say the boy, Lacy Aaron Schmidt, shot Alana Callahan, also 14, in the head and neck while she sat at her home computer on January 31. According to the Augusta-Chronicle, Schmidt first said Alana was killed by an intruder before saying he shot her accidently. Police say Alana was killed by a 9 mm handgun, the same kind owned by her father. Authorities later found the gun hidden in Schmidt’s home.