Georgia Governor: $5 Million for New Juvenile Diversions

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal is asking the state legislature to spend $5 million dollars to set up community diversion programs for low-risk youth offenders, on the model of other states. The appropriation would “create an incentive funding program” to encourage communities to treat appropriate youth at home, Deal told lawmakers at his annual State of the State address on Jan. 17. “We would emphasize community-based, non-confinement correctional methods for low-risk offenders as an alternative to regional and state youth centers,” Deal said, options like substance abuse treatment and family counseling. He emphasized the chance to save money, saying every secure bed in a Youth Detention Center, a facility for longer-term sentences, costs $91,000 annually.

Ohio Facility Shares Youth Detention Award with Drawn-Down Utah Center

Just as the last residents are preparing to move out of Utah’s oldest youth detention center, the departing staff and their building near Salt Lake won an award for excellence in operations, beating out competitors from 17 other states. Weber Valley Detention Center was already scheduled to close due to budget cuts before it won the Performance-based Standards 2012 Barbara Allen-Hagen Award in July.  The award recognizes one youth detention center and one correctional facility annually for best implementation of the Performance-based Standard model for improving rehabilitation and quality of life for youth inside. The award “represents a lot of hard work on part of the employees there even though they knew it would close,” said Susan Burke, the state of Utah’s director of Juvenile Justice Services. The award comes from the PbS Learning Institute, a nonprofit offspring of the federal Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

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.

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.

Part Three: A Friend and Reason for Hope

Just joining us? This is part three of a five part series. Start from the beginning. Kyle Boyer, 15-year-old prescription drug addict, duped his parents once again, faking a stomach ache to stay home from school. But instead of staying in bed, he went out to do what had become his norm – breaking into houses and stealing whatever the medicine cabinets within had to offer.

Georgia RYDC map

[MAP] Georgia RYDC Locations

Budget troubles are beginning to cause problems for the juvenile justice system in Georgia. In an attempt to close a more than $5 million shortfall, Department of Juvenile Justice officials in the state recently announced the closing of two youth detention centers. Below is a map of all Regional Youth Detention Centers in Georgia, including the recently closed ones in Blakely and Griffin. For more information including addresses and telephone numbers, visit the DJJ page.

Sen. Jack Hill: ‘I’d like to see RYDCs operate more efficiently’

We’re asking lawmakers to weigh in on issues affecting children and the juvenile justice system in Georgia. In this installment of the interview series, State Senator Jack Hill (R-Reidsville) weighs in on the new Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) commissioner and how the cash-strapped agency may effectively cut costs. Senator Jack Hill

Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee
Former Chairman of K-12 Education, Ethics and Higher Education Committees. JJIE: What do you consider to be some of the main pressing issues facing juvenile justice in Georgia? J.H.: I know that the budget cutbacks are a setback, but I’ve been impressed with [DJJ’s] plans for efficient delivery of services.  I’ve been especially impressed with Commissioner Amy Howell’s work.