Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice Commissioner Gale Buckner confirmed the Board’s election of Avery Niles to head the state’s DJJ Board. Niles fills the Chairman post formerly held by long-time Board member Ed Risler, who stepped down earlier this week following the expiration of his term last summer. Niles, a 23-year veteran of the Hall County Sheriff’s Department and current warden of the Hall County Correctional Institution, was appointed to the Board by Gov. Deal in July 2011. As Chairman, Niles will “help guide Board Members as they serve in their advisory capacity to DJJ, providing leadership and counsel to the Commissioner to help improve Georgia’s juvenile justice system,” according to a DJJ release. “I am honored to serve in this capacity,” Niles said.
Amy Howell, the first woman to head the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice is stepping down, according to a resignation letter obtained by JJIE. Gov. Nathan Deal, a former juvenile court judge, appointed Howell in January 2011 soon after he was inaugurated. An official announcement is expected Monday. The spokesperson for the DJJ declined to comment. According to the letter, at the request of Deal, Howell will become General Counsel for the Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD) to “ensure one of our major agencies is running smoothly through a federal settlement and transition in service delivery.”
Governor-Elect Nathan Deal took office Monday in Georgia. In a surprise move just before the winter holidays, he tapped Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) Deputy Commissioner Amy Howell to replace Garland Hunt as commissioner. Howell is an alumna of Emory University’s Barton Child Law and Policy Clinic and a past president of the Young Lawyer’s Division of the State Bar of Georgia. In her first formal interview late last week, she talked to JJIE.org’s Chandra Thomas about her plans at the helm of an agency facing more severe budget cuts in the coming year. Your appointment was a surprise to many in juvenile justice circles, was that the case for you too? I didn’t directly seek the appointment, but I have always made it known as the former president of the Young Lawyers Division of the State Bar of Georgia that I am open to new challenges. I was really surprised because I have not been working with the agency for 30-plus years.
The man who Governor Sonny Perdue tapped seven months ago to serve as Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice Commissioner is leaving his post after only seven months on the job. Garland Hunt officially departs this week following Governor-Elect Nathan Deal’s decision last month to name DJJ Deputy Commissioner Amy Howell in his place. Hunt is a lawyer, an ordained minister and co-pastor of the Father’s House church in Norcross, and a corrections industry veteran. He spoke to JJIE.org’s Chandra R. Thomas about his brief tenure overseeing a state agency with some 4,300 employees who are charged with monitoring and caring for some 20,000 youngsters. Many people were surprised to see you replaced after such a short time in the position. How do you feel about the decision? As I stated in the letter I sent to the staff, I certainly regret not being appointed to the position but I respect the governor-to-be’s appointment.