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.

Georgia Governor’s Office of Children and Families Executive Director to Resign

The Juvenile Justice Information Exchange has obtained an email that says the Georgia Governor’s Office for Children and Families (GOCF) Executive Director Jennifer Bennecke will resign August 15. The email to GOCF’s advisory board members, says Bennecke will not return following maternity leave. According to advisory board member Judge Steven Teske, Bennecke is resigning for personal reasons. JJIE also received a letter to GOCF from the Georgia Office of Audits and Accounts saying it will perform a “special examination” of GOCF’s “performance and expenditures, including Children’s Trust Fund revenues, that may be considered in connection with potential mergers with other organizations.” Former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue created GOCF in 2008 by joining together the Children’s Trust Fund Commission and the Children and Youth Coordinating Council into one organization.

Witt Announces Editorial Staff Changes at JJIE.org

Ellen Miller, the editorial director for the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange (JJIE.org), has left to take a job managing a 100-person, TV newsroom in Cleveland, Ohio. She will be replaced on an interim basis by John Fleming, editor at large for The Anniston (Ala) Star.  An advertisement will be placed soon for a full-time replacement for Miller.  Watch this site for “Communication Professional III.” We are extremely proud of Miller’s accomplishments with the JJIE.org.