Thursday, July 5, 2012

Department of Juvenile Justice shifts focus, restructures

Posted By on Thu, Jul 5, 2012 at 12:46 PM

HQ: Department of Juvenile Justice central office in Decatur
  • Courtesy GA DJJ
  • HQ: Department of Juvenile Justice central office in Decatur

This week, following a number of high-profile and sometimes violent incidents at various youth detention centers in months past, Georgia's Department of Juvenile Justice took additional steps to help ensure safe and secure conditions for kids in detention facilities around the state.

The agency established a new, high-ranking post dedicated to overseeing the state's "secure care facilities" (commonly called youth detention centers, or RYDCs and YDCs), and made a handful of structural changes aimed at helping improve agency performance.

"These organizational changes will enable us to better focus on three primary areas of juvenile justice responsibilities: safety and security, education and programming, and community services," Commissioner Gail Buckner said in a release.

Before this, responsibilities for overseeing detention facilities and community services fell under a single deputy commissioner.

Former DJJ Director of Investigations Sarah Draper will fill the role as deputy commissioner over secure care facilities. Buckner also created a new position to help manage DJJ's Programs and Education division under Deputy Commissioner Richard Harrison.

According to Buckner, many of the changes came from observations she made while evaluating the agency over the past several months. Buckner started paying surprise visits to detention facilities and juvenile court offices around the state after taking over in late 2011, following the transfer of then-commissioner Amy Howell.

DJJ officials were unavailable for comment at the time of publication.

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