Crisp RYDC: Art for Kids Ceremony DJJ Staff  at:  9/12/2014  

(Recently, Art for Kids, a classroom painting training course of the Emanuel Project, completed a five week session at the Crisp Regional Youth Detention Center (Crisp RYDC). Nora Carter was the lead instructor for this month's class and was so encouraged by the enthusiasm and talent of her students that she decided to go outside the box when it came to concluding the Crisp RYDC session. Below are her thoughts and impressions from the Art for Kids Crisp RYDC Closing Ceremony.)

After teaching a weekend art class for five weeks, I began to plan the concluding art show with the students. I had an idea that I proposed to them, but, secretly, I was unsure about their reactions. My plan was to complete a chalk art show to music. While all the youth said that they wanted to participate, I still had many doubts.

We brought a six foot easel covered with a black sheet to the facility for practice. Each of the students had a part in the drawing and they practiced their part to the music. One student also gave a short speech of introduction. Still, I had doubts. How would they perform? Would they remember their parts? This was a live performance.

One the day of the ceremony, I asked the students how their week had been. One of the students replied, “Just been waiting for this!” The counselor even told us that all of the students had been looking forward to today.

The speech was perfect, everyone remembered their part, and there were no major mishaps. This was a patriotic scene of the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima. I had sewn a zipper into the sheet, and at the very end of the musical selection, we opened the zipper and a student pulled out an American flag! As I looked into the audience, one of the students in the audience who had come to watch the performance jumped up and gave a standing ovation. We seldom can be a predictor of student behavior, but we do know for sure that art is a great motivator. This in itself should be an encouragement to all of us who work with America's forgotten youth.

The Department of Juvenile Justice would like to thank Nora Carter and the entire Art for Kids/Emanuel Project Team for their hard work and dedication to bringing art instruction to the youth of Georgia.




     Jubal Brass Concert at the Waycross RYDC DJJ Staff  at:  9/11/2014  

On August 22nd, the Georgia Baptist Convention Music and Worship Ministries presented a mini-concert for the youth at the Waycross Regional Youth Detention Center (Waycross RYDC). Paul Aday, Minister of Music for the Georgia Baptist Convention, led the twenty-two member Jubal Brass orchestra for the famous Sons of Jubal chorus.

Sons of Jubal, the oldest group of its kind in the Southern Baptist Convention, is a male chorus for ministers of music who sing under the direction of Jon Duncan. Dr. Duncan is the Music & Worship Ministries Specialist for the Georgia Baptist Convention. The varied program of Sons of Jubal consists of hymns, spirituals and anthems.

The mini-concert was a special treat for the youth at the Waycross RYDC. Many in the audience had never seen a musical concert live and really enjoyed both the performance and the music.

Special thanks goes out to Waycross RYDC Administrative Operations Coordinator Beverly Harrell for working with Eddy Oliver and the SMRT Team to arrange logistics for the Jubal Brass concert performance.





     District 11 HITS: Projecting Success for Summer 2014 DJJ Staff  at:  9/5/2014  


Details from DJJ Special Correspondent and District Director Patricia Merritt

This summer, the Department of Juvenile Justice's District 11 Regional High Intensity Team Supervision (HITS) groups were busy with activities throughout Southeastern Georgia. Whether it was feeding those in need or providing support to the elderly, the District 11 HITS youth and staff made sure to give back to local Georgia communities.


On August 1st, the Chatham HITS youth participated in the Savannah Feed the Hungry Sixth Annual Summer Fest Program at Forsyth Park. Savannah Feed the Hungry is a local, community organization that serves homeless populations and the working poor to provide assistance with food, education, and after-school activities. The Chatham HITS youth helped by unloading supplies for the event and assisted organizers with the set-up of supplies in the park. Our HITS youth also received health screenings provided by Amerigroup and Peach Care.


Evans CSO/HITS Staff Casey Yarbrough, Michael Clark, and Vangela Carter, HITS youth

OOn July 17th and again on August 7th, the Evans County HITS/CSO Team had the opportunity to present homemade greeting cards to the residents of Reidsville and Glenview Nursing Homes in Tattnall County. The HITS youth met at the Evans County CSO as part of a Summer Service Learning Project to use their artistic abilities to make their own cards. The youth designed, colored and wrote encouraging personal messages and expressions of caring into each card for the residents. JPPSIII Michael Clark, JPPSI Vangela Carter, and JPPSII Casey Yarbrough transported the creative youth to the nursing home to deliver the cards.

The youth played games, shared smiles and laughter, and interacted with some residents during activity time at the home. Glenview Nursing Home Activities Coordinator Courtney Dutton explained the importance of the visit because some residents do not often have regular guests.

The Evans/Tattnall CSO and HITS staff look forward to more Service Learning opportunities with their community youth in the near future. A special thank you goes to Southeast Region Victim Advocate Cynthia Joyce for her photos of the visit.


Recently, the CSO/HITS staff in Ware County partnered with the congregation of Destination Church to distribute school supplies to students in the Ware/Pierce County area. Destination Church Vacation Bible School classes donated the supplies for DJJ youth and for needy youth in the community.

Ware County HITS used the distribution as a Service Learning Project opportunity for youth to help hand out local school supplies before the start of classes. Ware HITS youth learned the importance of being prepared for school and assisted with the back to school transition of others by offering supplies to those in need.




     DJJ's Joe Vignati Receives Georgia Juvenile Services Association Award DJJ Staff  at:  9/3/2014  


Photo (from Left to Right) Brennan Vignati, Riley Vignati, Joe Vignati, R. Joseph Vignati

The Department of Juvenile Justice is proud to announce that Assistant Deputy Commissioner Joe Vignati has received the prestigious Harold K. Ables Award from the Georgia Juvenile Services Association (GJSA). Mr. Vignati was presented with the award at the recent GJSA Annual Training Summit held in Savannah, Georgia.

The Harold K. Ables award is presented by GJSA to an outstanding worker in the field of Juvenile Justice in Georgia. It is awarded in memory of Harold K. Ables, who contributed to the founding of GJSA, and represents the dedicated service and high ideas held by Mr. Ables.

Harold K. Ables (1931-1968) spent eleven years with the Floyd County Juvenile Court where he served as a Chief Probation Officer and Referee. Mr. Ables' sincere interest and concern for his fellow man was seen through his work with the youth of his community and church and was a strong believer in the worthwhile work done through the juvenile courts in our state. His work with the formation of GJSA was born of his interest in bringing together those working in the field of juvenile justice in Georgia to study and improve services rendered to the youth of the state.

Throughout his career, Joe Vignati has been a tireless worker and advocate for juvenile justice in Georgia. Serving as the Department of Juvenile Justice's first Case Expeditor, Mr. Vignati's imprint on juvenile justice policy in Georgia has grown over the years through positions such as Deputy Director of the Children and Youth Coordinating Council and Administrator for the Governor's Office for Children and Families. Joe Vignati is also recognized as a respected national expert on juvenile justice with many of his articles and interviews in publications from around the country.

Congratulations again to Joe Vignati for this well deserved honor!




     DJJ at The Moving Wall in Dublin, Georgia DJJ Staff  at:  8/27/2014  


Recently, staff and youth from the Laurens CSO had the chance to participate in a mobile-reminder of American history as "The Moving Wall" traveling memorial was exhibited in Dublin, Georgia. "The Moving Wall" is a half-sized replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall with the names of every serviceman and woman who gave their lives for America during the Vietnam conflict.

Escorted into town by motorcycle club members from all over the middle Georgia area, one local youth, Tyler Strickland, had the honor of helping assemble the actual wall when it was displayed in Dublin-Laurens County. JPPS Carlos Jones and JPPS Jarvin Wright also helped and attended the very emotionally moving Memorial Ceremony honoring American servicemen and women.

The Department of Juvenile Justice salutes all those who serve our country in the armed forces and we honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice. We thank Tyler Strickland, JPPS Jones, and JPPS Wright for their help on this important project. For more information on The Moving Wall, visit them on the web at




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