DJJ Central Office Employee of the Month: Amy Fortner DJJ Staff  at:  8/3/2015  

Congratulations to Amy Fortner-- Selected Central Office Employee of the Month for August 2015!

For the month of August, the nomination committee would like to recognize Director Amy Fortner.

Director Fortner is most deserving of this recognition as she has proven her commitment and dedication to DJJ, the staff, and the youth by what she accomplishes in the area of safety and security. Fortner has been called upon many times by the executive leadership and management team for her vast knowledge, expertise, and experience in the areas of correctional security and emergency response. As the Director of Special Operations, Amy manages the Security Management Response Team, the facility Security Emergency Response Teams, and Emergency Management. Under her management and direction, her teams have proven their dedication in ensuring that DJJ staff, the youth in our care, and the general public are safe in both facility and community settings by their response to critical incidents as well as repetitive details on a statewide level.

Director Fortner also serves on the executive committee for the GA Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run, the DJJ’s point of contact for the FBI’s MATCH Task Force (Human Trafficking), and the GBI’s CART Task Force (child abduction). Amy is graduate of the Corrections Leadership Institute, POST Instructor Training, BCOT, BJCOT, and many other specialized trainings. The yearly Commissioner’s Challenge event was designed, developed and implemented by Fortner and has proven to be a great training event and as well as a fun morale builder for the specialized teams throughout the Department. Fortner has received many thanks and praise from the Community Services leadership for her dedication and success in the recovery of youth who have absconded from supervision.

Even with the accolades above, Director Fortner first and foremost gives the credit to her teams, which is proven in their dedication to Special Operations and their continued success. Director Fortner is well deserving of the title of Employee of the Month!



The Employee of the Month Committee

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.





     The Department of Natural Resources at the Aaron Cohn RYDC and Muscogee YDC DJJ Staff  at:  7/31/2015  

The Department of Natural Resources at the Aaron Cohn RYDC and Muscogee YDC

Recently, the youth at the Aaron Cohn RYDC and Muscogee YDC in Columbus received a special visit from a local leader of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Arriving at the facilities with his DNR-issued boat and his dog friend Rutger, Corporal Jeremy Bolen stopped by to talk about boating/water safety and the use of canines in law enforcement investigations.

The Department of Natural Resources has statewide responsibilities for the management and conservation of Georgia’s natural and cultural resources. Most of this work is conducted by DNR’s six operating divisions which include: Coastal Resources Division; Environmental Protection Division; Historic Preservation Division; Law Enforcement Division; Parks, Recreation & Historic Sites Division and Wildlife Resources Division.

While showing the youth of Aaron Cohn and Muscogee his boat, Corporal Bolen gave a presentation on the importance of knowing all the rules regarding swimming and boating before visiting Georgia's lakes and rivers. Floatation devices such as life vests are required legally on boats, especially for kids and teens and can help to save lives. Awareness of one's surroundings is also an important facet of swimming safety and can make a difference between a fun afternoon in the water and something more dangerous.

Rutger the Dog was a favorite of the youth and adults alike in Columbus. Working with Corporal Bolen, Rutger demonstrated his ability to find wildlife and assist in the apprehension of criminal suspects. Other aspects of Rutger's "job" with the Department of Natural Resources were also discussed including the ways that dogs are used to help find lost and missing persons.

DJJ Volunteer Coordinator Kelly Spell, Muscogee YDC Director Mordie Askew, and staff members from the Aaron Cohn RYDC participated in a demonstration of the bite power of canines. Showcasing an impressive level of strength and coordination, Rutger was able win the "battle of the bite" in competing with his human challengers.

The youth of the Aaron Cohn RYDC and Muscogee YDC truly enjoyed their time with their new friends from the Department of Natural Resources. Corporal Bolen and Rutger both deserve special kudos and thanks for visiting during one of the hottest days of the summer. To learn more about the Department of Natural Resources, visit them on the web at .





     Georgia DJJ Reentry Task Force Governance Council Meeting DJJ Staff  at:  7/30/2015  

Georgia DJJ Reentry Task Force Governance Council Meeting


On July 22nd, the Georgia Reentry Task Force of the Department of Juvenile Justice held their second meeting of their Governance Council at the headquarters of Boys2Men Home and Sanctuary for Youth in Southeast Atlanta. The Governance Council discussed all aspects of Juvenile Justice Reentry policy including training, policy, committee responsibility and governance, survey creation and data collection, and the development of a Task Force database based on expertise.


Participants refer to picture (left to right): Dr. Curtis Jasper (CEO of the IAM Project), Jean Hudley (CEO of Boys2Men), Monique Brandenburg (DJJ), Funmi Adesesan (DJJ), AJ Sabree (DJJ), Cathy Smith-Curry (DJJ/Co chair) and Andre’ Cheek (DJJ), Tony Lowden (GOTSR). Not present but on the Conference Call: Robert Nibbs (DHS) and Keith Jones (DJJ)


The Georgia Reentry Task Force of the Department of Juvenile Justice was created in March 2014 with over twenty-six members from twenty-three organizations from across the state. The Governance Council of the Task Force was created to help guide the work of over one hundred Task Force members that represent child and family-serving organizations.

In December 2014 in response to growing organizational membership, the Department of Juvenile Justice divided the Task Force into six different subgroups to improve collaboration. These subgroups were designed based on the domains of aftercare work (i.e. Education, Substance Abuse, Leisure, etc) to address barriers identified in the DJJ Strategic Framework.

The mission of the Governance Council is to ensure that the Task Force operates at the maximum level of efficiency. The Governance Council will meet semi-annually with the next meeting scheduled to be held at the Atlanta Technical College. For more information on the Reentry Services Unit, visit them on the web at





     First Statewide DJJ Commissioner's Youth Council Members Meet: Atlanta, Augusta, Eastman, Macon, Milan, Muscogee & Sumter DJJ Staff  at:  7/27/2015  

First Statewide DJJ Commissioner's Youth Council Members Meet: Atlanta, Augusta, Eastman, Macon, Milan, Muscogee & Sumter

Department of Juvenile Justice Commissioner Avery D. Niles is pleased to announce the success of DJJ’s new Commissioner’s Youth Council. The Commissioner kicked-off the first Youth Council session at DJJ Central Office in Decatur, Georgia today.

The Council convened an opportunity for Commissioner Niles and DJJ’s Executive Team to hear from fifteen young offenders who represent incarcerated populations at Georgia’s Youth Development Campuses (YDCs). Juveniles in confinement at YDC’s are committed to long-term secure care and supervision. The selected youth Council members are all working toward positive personal change while being held in state care and custody.


The Commissioner’s new Youth Council seats twelve male and three female student representatives from YDC’s in Atlanta, Augusta, Eastman, Macon, Milan, Muscogee and Sumter. It was formed by Commissioner Avery Niles to help educate DJJ’s top decision-makers about life situations youth may experience at a Development Campus and to strategize about potential improvements for YDC operations.

“This forum was developed to provide our young Council Members with opportunities to talk with the Executive Team, exchange ideas and ask candid questions,” said Commissioner Niles. “At these Central Office meetings they can share their concerns in a formal setting while affording us an opportunity to update the youth about DJJ activities and to provide guidance for them to become leaders who can actually make a difference in each other’s lives,” the Commissioner said.

To be selected as student representatives, the youth must be fifteen years or older and meet a rigid set of qualifications, including consistent participation in the behavior management program, maintaining education goals for a GED or high school diploma, and a release date that is more than six months away. Each candidate must display leadership skills and a positive influence on other youth. Consideration for candidacy requires the youth to write an essay detailing why they want to serve on the council. Finally they must obtain a letter of recommendation from the facility director where they are held in custody.

“We anticipate continuing Youth Council sessions will help improve the self-confidence of these young people and help them develop more solid decision-making skills,” said Commissioner Niles. “We want to help motivate them to participate in leadership roles. We want to encourage them to become more accountable and through their personal examples, to help make a profound difference in their facilities,” the Commissioner said.

When they return to their Youth Development Campuses, the students selected for the Youth Council will meet with other young people from each campus dorm. DJJ Behavior Management Leadership Teams will help Youth Council members conduct Student Council meetings in their campus dorms twice a month and to collect their suggestions for the next Council. Leadership Teams and Facility Directors will develop Corrective Action Plans to address any emerging youth concerns. The DJJ Office of the Ombudsman will review the Action Plans and help resolve any challenges.

“The goal of the Commissioner’s Youth Council is to improve communication with our youth in custody,” said Commissioner Niles. “It provides another vantage point for DJJ Leadership to better gauge where our youth are in their personal growth, development and rehabilitation. And it will provide an innovative tool to help us meet their physical, emotional and educational needs as we continue to enhance our efforts to achieve juvenile justice reforms,” Niles said.

The Commissioner hopes to someday see these same Youth Council members become change agents for other young people in their facilities and hopes to show offenders and their families more about DJJ's commitment to help them become productive and law-abiding citizens.

The Department of Juvenile Justice provides supervision, detention, and a wide range of treatment, educational and reentry services for youth referred by the Juvenile Courts. More than 50,000 youth are served each year by DJJ, including youth placed on probation, sentenced to short-term incarceration, or committed into custody by the Juvenile Courts.

In addition to the DJJ Central Office in Decatur, there are more than 100 DJJ court offices and secure facility locations throughout Georgia.

For more information about special programs at the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice and to see award photos from the first Commissioner’s Youth Council meeting, join us on the web at .





     OCATS Director Lisa Casey Bryson Honored by Georgia Gang Investigators Association DJJ Staff  at:  7/23/2015  

OCATS Director Lisa Casey Bryson Honored by Georgia Gang Investigators Association

DJJ OCATS Director Lisa Casey Bryson with the GGIA Vice President Joe Amerling

When it comes to leadership and public service in the state of Georgia, the men and women of the Department of Juvenile Justice are front and center in striving to improve the lives of youth in our communities. Recently, the Georgia Gang Investigators Association held its 15th annual Training Conference in Savannah, Georgia and one of the Department of Juvenile Justice’s own was honored for their dedicated service in stopping youth gang activity in its tracks.

Office of Classification and Transportation Services Director Lisa Casey Bryson was presented with the prestigious GGIA Service Award for her years of service to the organization including her work as Secretary of the organization for the past six years. GGIA Vice President Joe Amerling presented the award to Ms. Casey Bryson during the opening session of the conference.

The Georgia Gang Investigators Association was founded in 1998 to combat the uprising of gang violence in Georgia. GGIA assists with training to law enforcement personnel, schools, students, District Attorney's Offices, and local citizens. The purpose of the GGIA is to promote a free exchange of intelligence and information among investigators with the goal of effectively impacting the level of gang related violence perpetrated by criminal groups.

The Department of Juvenile Justice is a proud to work with the Georgia Gang Investigators Association and strongly supports its mission of reducing gang activity in Georgia. Of the over three hundred attendees who participated in this year’s Training Conference, the Department of Juvenile Justice sent over forty people from across the state.

Congratulations again to Lisa Casey Bryson for her well-deserved award. For information on the Georgia Gang Investigators Association, visit them on the web at . Learn more about DJJ gang prevention efforts at .




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