Commissioner Avery D. Niles is pleased to announce the Department of Juvenile Justice is rolling out a new Reentry Services Unit as he continues to restructure the agency to better meet requirements of Georgia’s new Juvenile Justice Reform Law. Commissioner Niles said he is adding the new 5-member Reentry Services Unit to help increase success rates for former juvenile offenders who are in the process of transitioning back to their communities after release from their court ordered detention and commitments at DJJ.

“We’re adapting standing policies and procedures to put this critical element of Georgia’s new Juvenile Justice Reform Law to work,” said Commissioner Niles. The Commissioner assembled the agency’s new Reentry Services Unit with a deputy and assistant director, a program development consultant, an education consultant and a reentry consultant. The five-member reentry services team works under supervision of Superintendent, Dr. Audrey R. Armistad.

“Governor Deal has signed Senate Bill 365 into law to help rehabilitated offenders make a successful reentry into society,” said DJJ’s Dr. Audrey R. Armistad. “Now the juvenile justice system should begin to experience increased numbers of former young offenders returning to the workforce and ready to support themselves.”

DJJ’s Associate School Superintendent says the new Reentry Services Unit will help Georgia’s juvenile offenders find a proper balance between opportunity and accountability. “SB 365 will help us get non-violent, first-time offenders get back on their feet and back on the right road to becoming law abiding, working citizens,” said School Superintendent Armistad.



B. Keith Jones, Deputy Director of Education Operations and Reentry Services. Read his biography here...

Cathy Smith-Curry, Assistant Director of DJJ's Office of Reentry Services. Read her biography here...

Andre' Cheek, Educational Consultant of DJJ's Office of Reentry Services. Read her biography here...

Kim Conkle, Program Development Consultant of DJJ's Office of Reentry Services. Read her biography here...

A.J. Sabree, Reentry Consultant of DJJ's Office of Reentry Services. Read his biography here....

Dr. Audrey Armistad, DJJ Assistant School Superintendent and Reentry Services Supervisor.

Dr. Mark Lipsey, Research Professor for DJJ's Office of Reentry Services. Read his biography here...

Dr. David M. Altschuler, Principal Research Scientist for DJJ's Office of Reentry Services. Read his biography here...

DJJ BRINGS IN TOP REENTRY RESEARCH EXPERTS Juvenile Justice Reform Project Helps Young Offenders Overcome Barriers and Avoid Repeat Detention in GA

Commissioner Avery D. Niles is pleased to announce the Department of Juvenile Justice is launching a research project for the State of Georgia in support of the Governor’s new juvenile justice reform “Reentry Initiative”. The Department is collaborating with two of the country’s top youth reentry research experts to develop a comprehensive case management program to help young offenders overcome major barriers to finding viable employment while under DJJ community supervision.

Under the guidance of Commissioner Avery Niles, DJJ planners, counselors, educators, security advisors, mental health providers and a newly-formed DJJ Reentry Services Unit are teaming up with respected reentry research scientists Dr. Mark Lipsey and Dr. David Altschuler.

Dr. Mark Lipsey is Director of the Peabody Research Institute at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education and Human Development. He is a member of the Tennessee Criminal Justice Coordinating Council and the Science Advisory Board for the federal Office of Justice Programs.

Dr. David Altschuler is the principal research scientist at the Johns Hopkins Institute for Policy Studies, Bloomberg School of Public Health and co-author of a 2004 article on the challenges and opportunities faced by former juvenile offenders upon their reentry to society.


Governor Signs Third Leg of Criminal Justice Reform

At Antioch Baptist Church in Gainesville on Sunday, Gov. Nathan Deal signed into law Senate Bill 365, legislation that will help rehabilitated offenders successfully re-enter society by removing barriers to employment, housing and education. DJJ Commissioner Avery Niles was proud and honored to be present at Governor Deal's signing of this momentous law with his friends and neighbors at his hometown church.




Deal: Healing Communities will reduce recidivism, make Georgia safer

Gov. Nathan Deal on June 17th announced the creation of Healing Communities of Georgia, a network that will be comprised of diverse congregations from all faiths working collectively to make their communities safer and reduce recidivism. Healing Communities will be led by the Governor’s Office of Transition, Support and Re-entry, which the governor created by executive order last year to improve the success rates of former inmates who are returning to their communities after serving their terms. The Governor’s Interfaith Council, which was created by the governor in April of this year to expand upon the state’s criminal justice reform efforts, will play a vital role in developing and growing the coalition of Healing Communities.

“Healing Communities is yet another example of how corrections and faith-based institutions can work toward common outcomes — protecting our citizens and our economy,” Deal said. “Congregations can provide invaluable perspective and experience on challenges to re-entry in their local communities. I am confident that if we work as a team and open up lines of communication, we will increase the number of rehabilitated offenders returning to the workforce and supporting their families.”

Congregations that take part in Healing Communities are known as Stations of Hope and actively engage principles of accountability and restoration of relationships within their worshipping communities. These Stations of Hope provide opportunities to learn and implement the model through introductions to best practices, ongoing educational opportunities and engagement in policy discussions – all geared to strengthen their capability to work with returning prisoners and help them become productive members of society.

Report Highlights Community-Based Alternatives to Youth Incarceration

The Youth Advocate Programs Policy and Advocacy Center has released “Safely Home”. This report highlights cost-effective, community-based alternatives to incarceration for high-needs youth. Some key findings:

• More than 8 of 10 youth remained arrest-free and 9 of 10 were at home after completing their community-based programs.
• Intensive programs based in the community can serve 3 to 4 youth safely for the same cost as incarcerating one child.

The report details elements of effective community-based alternatives, including individualized services, cultural competence, positive youth development, safety and crisis planning, and no reject/no eject policies that promote unconditional caring.

View and download the full report.

Young Offenders Will Learn Job Skills for Success After Release

Commissioner Avery D. Niles is pleased to announce the Department of Juvenile Justice is set to introduce an innovative plan to open seven youth career guidance centers at its long-term Youth Development Campuses (YDC’s) throughout Georgia. The purpose for these “Youth Career Centers” is to provide DJJ youth in detention with the necessary training, guidance and materials to assist them with career decision-making for successful transitions into the job market upon their release from the juvenile justice system.

The new career guidance program is being developed for use in Youth Development Campuses in Americus, Atlanta, Augusta, Eastman, Macon, Midland and Milan, Georgia. The Career Centers will be imbedded in existing educational areas and libraries at the YDC’s. The centers will be staffed by trained career guidance technicians. This new career guidance concept will be implemented by DJJ’s new Reentry Services Unit.

“We have empowered our Reentry Services Unit to do what it takes to help our youth make successful transitions back to their communities once their court-ordered commitments have been served,” said DJJ Commissioner Avery D. Niles. “This is just one of our strategic approaches working with Governor Deal to reduce high rates of recidivism among juvenile offenders in Georgia,” said Niles.

“We’re opening these Youth Career Centers in DJJ’s seven long-term secure facilities where they can help accomplish the most to provide our local communities with educated and skilled employees who will work hard to increase their chances of long-term career success,” the Commissioner said.

Commissioner Niles points to recent research studies which show statistically significant reductions in recidivism for former youth offenders who are employed after receiving career education training in their communities. The Youth Career Centers planned by DJJ are expected to enhance Georgia’s reintegration process by providing a place for DJJ youth to learn about and explore career options with the help of trained career technicians.

“Step one for each of these Youth Career Centers will be to help enable our young offenders to raise a positive self-awareness through the development of a job skill,” said Commissioner Niles, “And then this program becomes a stair-step process.”

“Once Georgia’s troubled youth develop needed job skills, our career counselors can teach them about career development and job retention and that’s another step. Then as their career skills advance and their court-ordered incarcerations come to an end, we can help transition those youth back into their communities as more marketable individuals,” said Commissioner Niles. “Step by step, these youth will realize they have more control over their own futures and they can help increase their own chances of longer-term career success,” the Commissioner said.

The Career Center project is too big and too challenging for the Department of Juvenile Justice to launch without help from partners. These career development steps will be made possible through collaborations between the DJJ Reentry Services Unit and the Georgia Department of Labor, the Technical Colleges of Georgia, and local Community Based Organizations. Together these partners can concentrate on teaching DJJ youth the fundamental skillsets and providing them with opportunities to work at becoming productive young citizens.

The professional toolbox for DJJ’s Reentry Services Unit will include an occupational assessment tool used by the Department of Labor. Youth occupation interests will be assessed using the DOL tool and then the youth will be trained using resume building software. Youth in the program will be engaged in career exploration activities with career guidance technicians.

Prior to release from custody, DJJ youth will be required to develop their own career plans, make personal contact with Department of Labor representatives, and to attend meetings with DOL Career Center reps. The DOL representatives will be responsible for assisting the youth once they transition into their home communities.

“This Youth Career Center plan will help us get non-violent, first-time offenders back on their feet and back on the right road to becoming law abiding, contributing citizens,” said Commissioner Niles. “The new Career Centers will help change the lives of our young offenders by reducing their high recidivism rates,” the Commissioner said.

“In order for Georgia’s reentry program to be viable, programs like our new Youth Career Centers must provide the education and opportunities to learn the skills needed for the workforce of the future,” Commissioner Niles said. “With Governor Deal’s support, we will offer hope to our youth in detention, while protecting Georgia’s citizens for the long term.”

Gainesville Times Article: Centers to help kids stay out of jail

As the Georgia prison system begins to enact re-entry measures touted and signed by Gov. Nathan Deal, the juvenile system is seeking to provide early intervention toward gainful employment and away from crime.

Commissioner Avery D. Niles announced last week that the Department of Juvenile Justice is introducing a plan to open seven guidance centers for youth at long-term detention centers throughout Georgia.

The purpose of the program will be to help youth in DJJ custody depart detention armed with the skills and information to transition into the job market. And signaling the ongoing commitment to re-entry, the concept is being implemented by DJJ’s newly created Reentry Services Unit.

The new career guidance program is being developed for use in Youth Development Campuses in Americus, Atlanta, Augusta, Eastman, Macon, Midland and Milan. The Career Centers will be imbedded in existing educational areas and libraries at the YDCs, to be staffed by trained career guidance technicians