Georgia Council Calls for New System for Young Offenders

A blue-ribbon panel in Georgia says the state should keep most misdemeanor offenders out of juvenile hall, and provide cash incentives for communities to channel kids away from custody and into programs that will divert them from further crime. That’s the unanimous vote of the Georgia Special Council on Criminal Justice Reform, after months of study and research assistance from the Pew Center on the States. “We have rethought what works to help that juvenile” who comes in contact with the criminal justice system, said state Court of Appeals Judge Mike Boggs, chair of the Council. “We want to try to incentivize communities to build evidence-based options in their communities. That works better at reducing recidivism than commitment to a secure facility,” Boggs said.

Choosing to Stay and Fight For Kids in Trouble

“What happened in your life that made you a passionate advocate for kids?” When Jane Hansen, Information Officer for the Georgia Supreme Court, asked me this question last week during an interview, I thought, “Whoa — the question assumed something happened to me.” Now I am paranoid — what does she know that I don’t? I have known Jane going way back to my days as a parole officer when she was a reporter for the Atlanta Journal Constitution — she has a keen sense of things. This “happening” resides in the recesses of my mind, something that rises to the surface from time to time when triggered by an event, song, or a question.

In Georgia: New Boss Takes over Department of Juvenile Justice

The third commissioner within a little more than a year holds his first regular Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice Board meeting, conducting workaday business on bonds and education, while a recruitment drive starts up. “I thank the governor [Nathan Deal] and the DJJ Board for their confidence and I will work diligently to maintain their trust,” said Avery Niles upon his swearing-in. “We look forward to making real changes in the lives of our young offenders.” Niles, commissioner since Nov. 2, had been board chair and leaves his job as Hall County Correctional Institution warden to take over DJJ. Audrey Armistad, associate superintendent of the DJJ school system announced that a pilot education program pushed by Deal will soon start up in south Georgia’s Eastman Regional Youth Detention Center.  That facility holds older youth on long-term sentences, some of whom have already graduated high school or gotten a GED.

Departing Georgia Juvenile Boss: Crisis Passed

After serving for nearly one year, Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice Commissioner Gale Buckner announces her departure, with a parting message for the agency, “the crisis stage is passed and we’re on to better opportunities.”

In November 2011, the department was beset with security and safety deficiencies, and Gov. Nathan Deal announced the appointment of Buckner, a career law enforcement officer, to the top job. The same day may have been the department’s worst: an inmate was beaten to death in Augusta’s youth detention center. “I will be moving forward with my retirement from the state of Georgia,” she said at an Oct. 3 Board of Juvenile Justice meeting. Her departure is effective Nov.