Mom, Teen Daughter Claim Guards Complicit in Attack at Georgia Detention Center

Haley Bonds says she did everything she could think of to protect her 16-year-old daughter from the beatdown she was expecting at a youth jail in Northwest Georgia. Yet, just 20 minutes after a supervisor assured her Whitney Bonds would be safe, another called Haley to say her daughter was “bleeding out” and being rushed to the emergency room. At the hospital, Haley said, doctors told her Whitney’s nose had been “crushed” and she would need corrective surgery and dental work. Whitney had just told a supervisor that two guards had bribed her and another girl to attack a third girl the night before, according to a written record of the complaint obtained by JJIE. The guards, she charged, threatened to “put out a hit on her” if she told anyone about it.

Looking for Reasons for Racial Imbalance in the Juvenile Justice System

It doesn’t take a lot of research to see that racial disparity in incarceration of both adults and juveniles is alive and well in the United States, but it is not so easy to say why. When I entered the Georgia prison system in 1985, blacks made up about 70 percent of the inmate population. That same year, blacks were 30 percent of the population of my home state. I grew up in a town in south Georgia with a large black population, and I had friends in school who were black. But I had no real consciousness of the inequality that existed in the justice system.

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.

Youth Detention Centers in Georgia Rife With Problems Says Juvenile Justice Commissioner

Low pay, poor training and an unsafe work environment have led to unacceptable turnover among guards at Georgia’s youth jails and prisons, Juvenile Justice Commissioner Gale Buckner says. ”By the time we get our juvenile correctional officers trained, they’re leaving us,” she said Tuesday. The Department of Juvenile Justice reported a 54 percent turnover rate in 2011, up by nearly one-third over the previous year. Buckner, in a briefing for Augusta-area legislators, offered no specifics about a criminal probe into the recent fatal beating of a 19-year-old youth at the state’s Augusta Youth Development Campus. But the former GBI agent addressed a wide range of security issues, including the possible need for a “super-max” facility to house some of the YDC’s most violent youths.

Cuts to Juvenile Justice System in Georgia Won’t Compromise Safety, Says Commissioner

Georgia’s juvenile justice system is eliminating jobs just as many other state agencies are, but Commissioner Gale Buckner of the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) promised Wednesday that none of the cuts will compromise the safety of youthful offenders. Directed by Gov. Nathan Deal to cut spending on current programs by 2 percent, the DJJ submitted a proposed 2013 budget that trims clerical and administrative positions, four teachers and two dozen staffers in a program offering intensive community-based programs supervision. But, Buckner told state House and Senate budgetwriters Wednesday, “no position that is safety- or security-related will be cut.” Buckner was responding to the concerns of state Rep. Quincy Murphy of Augusta, where a 19-year-old was fatally beaten two months ago in his cell at a youth development campus. A 17-year-old resident of the facility was charged with murder in the incident.

New Georgia Juvenile Justice Commissioner Announces Staff Changes

Newly sworn-in Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) Commissioner Gale Buckner announced a series of appointments and staff changes Monday. According to a DJJ press release, Buckner hired four new high-level employees and promoted another. Among the newly hired were Shawanda Reynolds-Cobb, who takes over as Deputy Commissioner of Administrative Services; Tracy D. Masters, as the new Director of Legal Services; Carol Jackson as the new Director of Legislative Affairs and Diane Avery as Board and Constituent Liaison. Buckner promoted current DJJ Deputy Commissioner Jeff Minor to Assistant Commissioner. Minor will be second-in-command at the DJJ, according to the press release, but will continue to oversee the Offices of Budget Services and Human Resources.

New Report Looks at the State of Health Care in the Juvenile Justice System

Youth in the juvenile justice system are at high-risk for physical, mental and developmental health issues according to a new policy statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on Adolescence. Despite this, many youths don’t receive the level of health care they need, either in the system or when they get out. The report represents the first update in 10 years to the Health Care for Youth in the Juvenile Justice System. Nationwide 2.11 million* juveniles were arrested in 2008, according to the report. And while not all arrested youth are placed in some form of detention (either short- or long-term) the median stay in custody in 2006 was 65 days.

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.

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?”