DJJ in the Community: Mitchell County Teen Maze DJJ Staff  at:  2/27/2017  
DJJ in the Community: Mitchell County Teen Maze

Photos and information from Assistant Director of Reentry Services Cathy Smith-Curry

In February, DJJ staff from the Office of Reentry Services, Community Services and Volunteer Services all participated in a Teen Maze event held at the Mitchell County Agriculture Center. Working various stations at the Teen Maze, DJJ staff conducted sobriety tests, provided information on the risks associated with gang activity and discussed issues associated with being a teen parent. Eighth-graders from public and private schools in Mitchell and Baker counties participated in this event.

The Mitchell County Teen Maze is an interactive life simulation where students are shown the positive and negative consequences of future behavior and life choices. The maze allows youth to explore real-life situations and their consequences without the permanency that would occur if they happened in actuality. Along the maze, these eighth- graders draw their "fate" out of a bag as community professionals in different fields present information. As they continue from station to station, these teens encounter the real-life choices and consequences that can interfere with obtaining a high school education. The ultimate goal of the Teen Maze for the participants is to reach graduation with a focus on continuing their education and succeeding in life.

The Teen Maze is sponsored by Family Connections of Baker and Mitchell County. DJJ would like to thank all of the participating departments in this important local event.

Cathy Smith-Curry conducting a sobriety test

Cynthia Joyce

Fredrick Wrenn and Katrina Dennard

Fredrick Wrenn, Katrina Dennard and Ervin Warren

Keith Jones, Jessical Jennings, Fredrick Wrenn, Cynthia Joyce, Cathy Smith-Curry, Ervin Warren and Katrina Dennard




     DJJ in the Community: Lyons Nature Trail DJJ Staff  at:  2/20/2017  
DJJ in the Community: Lyons Nature Trail

Photos and information from SE Regional Administrator Rusty Rodgers

Earlier this month, Department of Juvenile Justice youth from Toombs County participated in a groundbreaking ceremony for a new nature trail that will be built in Partin Park located in Lyons. The new trail will be constructed over the next year and will be a welcome addition to one of the finest small town parks in the state. The park hosts the south's largest Soapbox Derby and annual Real Squeal BBQ and Music Festival.

As part of the groundbreaking ceremony, the Toombs County youth were put in charge of signing up attendees for the new Partin Park nature trail newsletter. During the ceremony, it was mentioned that the Toombs County youth will help build the nature trail, working on school holidays to earn community service hours and gain valuable construction experience in the process.

DJJ would like to thank Lyons Mayor Willie Nesmith, Jr. and Lyons City Manager Jason Hall for meeting with the youth volunteers and for their support of DJJ community outreach efforts.

Lyons Mayor Willis D. NeSmith, Jr. and Lyons City Manager Jason Hall with the Toombs County youth





     2017 DJJ Volunteer Day of Service DJJ Staff  at:  2/17/2017  
2017 DJJ Volunteer Day of Service

Photos and information from Victim and Volunteer Services Director Latera Davis

On January 25th, Department of Juvenile Justice volunteer coordinators throughout the state participated in a Day of Service for Georgia citizens in need. The DJJ Day of Service was coordinated as part of a quarterly meeting for coordinators at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center (GPSTC) in Forsyth.

As part of the DJJ Day of Service, volunteer coordinators created statewide service learning projects for interested employees and youth. The helpful impact of these service learning projects was felt by a large segment of people in need in Georgia. Personal hygiene and used clothing was collected for the southwest Georgia storm victims. Care packages were organized for families in homeless and children shelters including the Atlanta Children's Shelter. Ties were donated to DJJ youth to help educate on the importance of dressing for success. Teddy bears were made for youth in foster care.

The DJJ Day of Service was modeled on the nationwide Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service during the King Holiday in January. Days of service can be a way to transform Dr. King’s life and teachings into action that helps empower and strengthen local communities. To learn more, visit






     DJJ at the American Probation and Parole Assocation 2017 Winter Training Institute DJJ Staff  at:  2/15/2017  

DJJ at the American Probation and Parole Association 2017 Winter Training Institute

Photos and information from Deputy Commissioner Margaret Cawood

Recently, the American Probation and Parole Association (APPA) held its 2017 Winter Training Institute in Reno, Nevada. The Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice was a proud participant in this educational event for youth justice programming.

Training Program Manager Tania Appling served as the National Program Chair for the APPA Institute, where she worked with 15 committee chairs to review and approve over 100 workshop submissions. In addition, Appling was responsible for securing and introducing the speakers for the plenary sessions. Speakers included Chef Jeff Henderson, a panel of experts led by Margaret diZerga, project director from theVera Institute and Dr. Emily Salisbury from University of Nevada.

During the event, Appling worked closely with APPA Executive Director Veronica Cunningham, APPA President Susan Burke and others from the APPA staff to ensure the successful facilitation of workshops. Appling's hard work was successful as the workshops topics and the speakers were well-received by the over 400 individuals in attendance in Reno.

Appling is the current Juvenile Justice Committee Chair for APPA. Working with a group of dedicated individuals from across the United States, she helps to address juvenile justice topics and concerns within community correctional agencies. As Chair, Appling worked to develop strategic goals for the committee as well as review the current Juvenile Justice Position Statement on Disproportionate Minority Contact for the group.

Currently, the Juvenile Justice Committee for APPA is working to develop a statement on Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children and the School to Prison Pipeline. APPA is preparing to participate in the National Center of Juvenile Justice’s model data project. Several current and former Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice staff members are also members of this committee including Lalita Appling, Dee Bell, Carl Brown, DeBaja Coleman and Michele Stanley. As the Juvenile Justice Committee chair, Appling is also a member of the APPA Board of Directors.

In addition, Victim and Volunteer Services Director Latera Davis and Secure Campuses Program Director Lalita Appling are members of the Victim Services Committee. Their involvement has provided several opportunities for them to present to various conferences and to work closely with victim advocates such as Anne Seymour and Angie McGowan. They are both active members of the Committee for Justice Involved Women and Girls.

As Co-Chair of the APPA Diversity Committee, DeBaja Coleman helped to organize the 2nd Annual Diversity Community Dialogue Event. This event was created to facilitate an open dialogue regarding diversity-related issues in community corrections and how APPA can be a driving force to correct these issues.

The Community Dialogue in Reno focused on reducing the increased tension in communities involving race and policing. As part of this dialogue, agencies are taking actions to address community concerns with APPA supporting reducing inequities within the criminal justice system.

Training Director Debaja Coleman attended other committee meetings including Community Justice and Prevention, and Juvenile Justice. These committees looked at ways to partner with outside groups to increase membership and share information on major projects taking place in other states.

Ms. Coleman also moderated a presentation DJJ’s Latera Davis and Lalita Appling that discussed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: the Pathology of Males and Sex trafficking.“ This presentation gave attendees the opportunity to raise awareness and education on issues of commercial sexual exploitation of males with a focus on juvenile males.

The 2017 APPA Winter Training Institute offered large amount of varied opportunities to network and make contacts with other national juvenile justice agencies and organizations. The participating DJJ staff looks forward to the next APPA conference in New York later this year.

Training Program Manager Tania Appling takes the stage at the 2017 APPA Winter Training Institute

Tania Appling with Chef Jeff Henderson

Lalita Appling, Chef Jeff Henderson, Tania Appling and Debaja Coleman






     DJJ at the 2017 American Correctional Association Winter Conference DJJ Staff  at:  2/14/2017  
DJJ at the 2017 American Correctional Association Winter Conference

Photos and information provided by Deputy Commissioner Margaret Cawood, Director Latera Davis and Policy Coordinator Jean Urrutia

On January 20-25, the American Correctional Association (ACA) held their Winter Conference in San Antonio, Texas. Engaging and thought-provoking, this six-day conference offered Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice staff much in the way of professional networking, understanding of the newest technical advancements in juvenile justice and first-class training workshops. Before a national audience of correctional professionals, DJJ was well represented at the ACA Winter Conference not only in attendance, but in presentations and leadership representation.

DJJ Deputy Commissioner Margaret Cawood, Office of Classification and Transportation (OCATS) Director Lisa Casey Byson and National Council on Crime & Delinquency (NCCD) researcher Erin Manske presented “Custody and Housing Assessments: Better Decisions Lead to Better Outcomes." The presentation gave an overview of how NCCD and DJJ developed a custody and housing assessment for Georgia that is valid, equitable and reliable. Using this assessment, Georgia is able to make better decisions for youth in custody, which will improve long-term outcomes for youth, families and communities.

DJJ Training Director Debaja Coleman and Training Program Manager Tania Appling presented “The Invisible Youth: Working with Transgender and Non-conforming Youth." The purpose of this presentation was to educate and heighten awareness of community staff who work with transgender or non-conforming youth. The presentation offered attendees knowledge and heightens the awareness of the staff that work with “invisible youth." They presented national statistics and introduced attendees to terminology related to transgender and non-conforming youths. Attendees were able to reflect on previous experiences and how the experiences have shaped their views regarding these youth.

Victim and Volunteer Services Director Latera Davis presented “From Pigtails to Prison: The Victimization of Females and the Pathway to Criminal Behaviors." Moderated by Jean Urrutia, this presentation helped to raise awareness of the correlation between victimization and female criminality.

Dr. Christy Doyle and Dr. Ron Koon represented the Office of Behavioral Health Services (OBHS) in San Antonio. Co-presenting the workshop, “Intensive Treatment of Behavior Disordered Youth in Long-term Secure Facilities,” both discussed the history and development of the Specialized Treatment Units while sharing some preliminary outcomes of the program. Dr. Doyle also presented the workshop, “Complex Trauma” where she discussed the incidence of trauma in juvenile justice-involved youth and the impact of that trauma on adolescent brain development and behavior.

The Department of Juvenile Justice is proud to announce that Dr. Michelle Staples-Horne and Deputy Commissioner Sarah Draper were elected to ACA leadership positions. Dr. Michelle Staples-Horne was elected to serve on the ACA Board of Commissioners, which reviews reports from auditors and holds panel hearings for correctional facilities applying for or renewing ACA accreditation. Deputy Commissioner Draper was elected as one of two National Delegates representing Juvenile Administration in 2017-2019. Dr. Staples-Horne also serves on the Juvenile Committee, Awards Committee and the Health Committee while Deputy Commissioner Draper is a member of the Victim Services/Restorative Justice Committee.

In addition, Deputy Commissioner Cawood, Dr. Koon and Dr. Doyle attended the Mental Health Committee as guests, and, as a result, Dr. Doyle was asked to be made a standing member of the committee. Dr. Koon attended the Use of Isolation Ad Hoc committee. He also serves as the leader of the treatment sub-group of this committee. DJJ representatives also participated in the Juvenile Corrections Committee and Standards committee.

The Department of Juvenile Justice would like to thank all staff able to participate in the 2017 ACA Winter Conference.

Debaja Coleman, Tania Appling and Latera Davis

Regional Administrator Pamela Johnson and former Virginia Governor Douglas Wilder

Debaja Coleman and Tania Appling presenting "The Invisible Youth"

Debaja Coleman and Tania Appling presenting "The Invisible Youth"

Debaja Coleman and Tania Appling presenting "The Invisible Youth"

Debaja Coleman and Tania Appling presenting "The Invisible Youth"

DeKalb RYDC Director Audrey Stokes with ACA Immediate Past President Dr. Mary Livers

Pamela Johnson, ACA President Dr. Lannette Linthicum, Audrey Stokes

Audrey Stokes with Governor Wilder

Victim, Volunteer and Chaplaincy Services Director Latera Davis

Victim and Volunteer Services Director Latera Davis with Policy Coordinator Jean Urrutia

Dr. Christy Doyle, Deputy Commissioner Margaret Cawood, OCATS Director Lisa Casey Bryson, GEMA Director Homer Bryson

Deputy Commissioner Margaret Cawood, OCATS Director Lisa Casey Bryson, NCCD researcher Erin Manske

Jean Urrutia, Latera Davis, Margaret Cawood, Dr. Ron Koon, Dr. Christy Doyle, Lisa Casey Bryson

Lisa Casey Bryson and Margaret Cawood

OCATS Director Lisa Casey Bryson at the Alamo





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