Commissioner’s Message to the Department of Juvenile Justice Staff National Correctional Officers and Employees Week
Good afternoon everyone,
During the observance of National Correctional Officers and Employees Week, I want to thank you, the dedicated staff of the Department of Juvenile Justice, for committing yourselves to improving the lives of thousands of troubled youth throughout the State of Georgia.
We recognize that the job is often difficult and demanding: The DJJ Team has a challenging task to provide a positive environment in safe and secure facilities, to deliver quality education, meaningful programing and appropriate youth services. The DJJ mission requires professionals willing to sacrifice their time and energy to prepare those troubled youth for productive reentry into their communities and to reduce recidivism.
We are grateful for the vital public safety services you provide to our citizens, our State and our communities.
The tradition of designating "National Correctional Officers and Employees Week" began during the first week of May in 1984 under proclamation signed by President Ronald Reagan. The title originated as "National Correctional Officers Week" until modified by Congress in 1996 to "National Correctional Officers and Employees Week" to include all correctional professionals.
In the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice today, more than 2,400 men and women perform their duties with dedication and distinction in 17 secure facilities and 92 Community Services Offices.
National leaders of the American Correctional Association proudly describe your accomplishments and credentials in this year’s commemorative letter:
“They are well- trained, work hard and keep communities safe all across America. They keep watch over tens of thousands of juvenile and adult offenders in custody and under community supervision. Their jobs are demanding and stressful, yet they respond admirably and reliably day after day. These highly devoted individuals do more than supervise. They train, teach, mentor, counsel, preach and treat. They provide hope and guidance. They work to rebuild lives!” ACA Letter May 1-7, 2016
I personally thank you for your continued desire to serve every week as change agents for our youth and our communities impacted by juvenile crime. I encourage the DJJ Team to continue reaching out and giving back in keeping with the DJJ Mission.
Avery D. Niles, Commissioner Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice
In April, staff members of the Evans County Community Services Office (Evans County CSO) participated in an area National Crime Victims' Rights Week event with other active victims' rights and government/law enforcement agencies. Featuring Evans County Sheriff Randal Tippins (and his deputies) and Evans County Clerk of the Court Cathy Hendrix (and her staff), a balloon release honoring local victims took place at the Evans County Court House.
The Department of Juvenile Justice's Cynthia Joyce from the Office of Victim Services presented the Honorable Judge Benjamin Brinson with a special DJJ Challenge Coin in honor of his work with victims and juvenile offenders alike in the counties of Tattnall and Evans County. Through this ceremony and other ceremonies across the state, the message to victims of crime is simple: You are not forgotten and people care.
The theme of National Crime Victims' Rights Week, "Serving Victims. Building Trust. Restoring Hope", underscores the importance of early intervention and victim services in establishing trust with victims which in turn begins to restore their hope for healing and recovery. To learn more, visit http://ovc.ncjrs.gov/ncvrw/.
Story support by Operations Support Manager Tamara Barber
The District Eight Regional Team based in Columbus/Muscogee County recently supported other community organizations in the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life fundraiser. For the event in Muscogee County, over fifteen hundred volunteers participated at A.J. McClung Memorial Stadium in Columbus and more than $324,000 raised to end cancer in Georgia.
Left to right: Knyetta Copeland, Meshonda Moore and Tamara Barber
The American Cancer Society Relay For Life movement is the world's largest and most impactful fundraising event to end cancer. It unites communities across the globe to celebrate people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and take action to finish the fight once and for all.
DJJ Cares: Valdosta/ Lowndes County and Child Abuse Prevention Month
Story support by District Ten Director Laura Pike
In April, the Valdosta City Hall lawn was covered with 1,231 spinning pinwheels in recognition of Child Abuse Prevention Month. Each of the 1,231 pinwheels placed on the lawn represented an instance of reported child abuse in Lowndes County in 2015.
As part of the Valdosta/Lowndes County Blue Ribbon and Pinwheel Campaign, the Department of Juvenile Justice in District Ten worked together with Prevent Child Abuse (PCA) Lowndes County, the Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) and the Flower Gallery to place memorial pinwheels and hanging blue bows on light posts in downtown Valdosta.
The 20th Annual Blue Ribbon Campaign Kickoff featured Valdosta Mayor John Gayle and Lowndes County Commissioner Bill Slaughter presenting a proclamation stressing the importance of stopping crimes against children. Retired Chief Master Sergeant Kenneth Lilly was the keynote speaker delivering a powerful first-hand speech about his life journey overcoming abuse in the foster care system to achieve great success. Gail Finley, Program Manager for Lowndes County DFCS, challenged the audience to go beyond symbolic gestures of the ribbon and pinwheel to talk to people directly about the prevention of child abuse.
The pinwheel represents PCA Lowndes County’s efforts to change the way the community thinks about child abuse prevention, focusing on community activities and public policies that prioritize healthy child development. It is part of the national Pinwheels for Prevention campaign that has seen more than 2.3 million pinwheels – the new national symbol for child abuse prevention – distributed since April 2008. The Pinwheels for Prevention national campaign first began as a local project initiated in Lowndes County.
PCA Lowndes County is a local chapter of PCA America. PCA America was founded in 1972 and works to ensure the healthy development of children nationwide while recognizing that child development is a building block for community development and economic development.
Congratulations to Latera Davis-- Selected Central Office Employee of the Month for May 2016!
DJJ is pleased to announce that Latera Davis has been selected as Central Office Employee of the Month for May 2016.
Ms. Davis has worked for DJJ for 18 years beginning her career as a JPPS 1 and 2; as a Program Coordinator for Medicaid and Secure Facilities; as the Assistant Director of OCATS; as the Public Affairs Outreach Coordinator; and most recently and currently, as the Director for Victim and Volunteer Services. She is recognized nationally having presented on several topics at national conferences and meetings and always represents the GA DJJ as a true professional garnering many compliments from conference attendees.
Director Davis has been instrumental in organizing and implementing several yearly community outreach projects to include Restock the Shelves, Toys for Tots, Repack the Backpack, Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run, and the Shoe Box project. Director Davis also supervises Volunteer Services and has had a special focus and attention on several of the successful programs dedicated to youth in facilities such as Rescue to Restore, Metro RYDC Girl Scouts, Beat the Streets Running Program with Atlanta Track Club, Reality University, and several programs regarding bullying, teen dating violence, sexual assaultive behaviors, and diversity and awareness involving the LGBTI population.
Director Davis is a subject matter expert in the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) and works diligently to educate not only DJJ staff but our community partners as well as, law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, school officials, and others on the prevention, intervention, detection, enforcement, and services regarding CSEC and its victims. Ms. Davis also works closely as a point of contact with the FBI’s MATCH Task Force convened to disrupt and combat human trafficking. Ms. Davis is trained in conflict mediation, critical incident response and debriefing, victim and offender dialogue, and child abuse prevention. She is also a facilitator for the Darkness to Light Child Sexual Abuse Victim training. Additionally, she is an Executive Board Member for the GA Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run and a member of the Child Abuse Prevention Treatment Act Panel. Ms. Davis is a POST certified BJCOT officer and holds Master’s Degrees in Social Work and Public Administration.
Director Davis’ work product is quality, her ideas are solid, and her dedication is strong. Ms. Davis is a very worthy choice for the May Central Office Employee of the Month!
Join us in congratulating Director Davis!
The Employee of the Month Committee
NOMINATION PROCESS DJJ’s Employee of the Month Recognition Program – How Nominees Are Selected
Beginning January 2015, the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice kicks-off its first “Employee of the Month” program for Central Office employees. Names of nominees are selected by the DJJ Executive Team from members of their units or divisions and submitted to be recognized as the Central Office Employee of the Month. Included with the nomination is a one page write-up detailing why the staff member should be given consideration to be selected Employee of the Month.
Then each month, the Nomination Committee makes their selection for the employee to receive public appreciation the following month. The written nomination is reviewed and signed by Commissioner Avery D. Niles and posted for public recognition on the DJJ “News & Views” website. Each nominee selected by the committee will be recognized at a monthly DJJ Board Meeting and entitled to use the Employee of the Month parking space reserved at Central Office.
The DJJ Central Office Employee of the Month award is intended to recognize and support those stand-out DJJ team members who bring additional motivation, determination and vigor to the workplace through their personal ethics, advocacy, positive attitudes and innovative solutions to impact the professional challenges faced by their dedicated colleagues and the troubled youth they serve.