DJJ SPOTLIGHT:DEVONTE PATE and the DETERMINED DJJ CASEWORKERS As the first person in his family to finish high school, Devonte Pate knew about the role of willpower and determination in the struggle to reach life’s goals.But now came the question:Would he ever cross the stage to graduate?The rest of his classmates made the trip without him back in December. Fortunately, Devonte’s personal resolve would not go unnoticed.The Department of Juvenile Justice knew about his struggle and recognized his pursuit of success.This is the story about the conclusion of Devonte Pate’s long quest for education and the DJJ team that was there to help him finally make that once in a lifetime trip to collect his high school diploma.
September 2011 was a time of mixed emotions for Devonte Pate.He was nineteen and going home in time for the holidays.And that created a curious dilemma for Devonte, in fact one that might have made many students at Eastman Youth Development Campus (YDC) wish they could trade places then and worry about finishing school later.
However, Devonte had recently completed his high school requirements during his commitment at the Eastman YDC. And that was the catch: The official graduation ceremony that Devonte had been looking forward to for so long was still four months away in December. But Devonte’s release date was scheduled for right now in September.
Here was a guy who had worked hard to better himself and obtain a level of education that no one else in his family had ever been able to achieve.After all he’d overcome, Devonte would be missing out on graduating with his peers and fellow students at the official DJJ high school ceremony.Disappointment was running deep. But according to schedule, Devonte Pate did go home in September and back at Eastman, the graduation ceremonies went on without him in December. As much as he missed graduating with his classmates, Devonte then realized something even worse: he might have missed all chances to graduate in any kind of ceremony at all.
That’s where a pair of DJJ Juvenile Probation and Parole Specialists stepped in with some willpower of their own. Determined DJJ caseworkers Ira Caslin-Smith and Carlena Brown put together their plan to use the District Four Staff Appreciation Picnic in Griffin, Georgia for a small but special presentation for Devonte in front of his family and friends.Devonte Pate would have his formal graduation after all.
The Court Services Staff helped Devonte’s caseworker’s bring together guests from the District Four Office, including case managers, clerical staff, and community resource people.Suddenly, Devonte even had RSVP’s from VIP’s like Regional Principal Dr. Rufus Johnson, Regional Director Margaret Cawood and DJJ Board Member Sandra Heath Taylor.
Only two days before the occasion, Devonte was unaware organizers were still trying to track down a graduation tassel and diploma cover to make his special day complete.No one at DJJ ever expected a search for a tassel could be such a hassle.
How did DJJ caseworkers track down a single tassel under deadline?With team work.Caseworkers Caslin-Smith and Brown enlisted the help of DJJ Student Support Services Director, Coy E. Satterfield and Dr. Audrey Armistad’s Administrative Assistant, Joan Carroll. After an exhaustive search, Joan Carroll at DJJ Central Office finally made contact with Mr. Lester Wright at Stone Mountain High School.And Mr. Wright in Stone Mountain was able to track down the tassel that would be placed on Devonte’s cap for the exercise.
But with the presentation only a day away, there was still the problem of how to get that tassel delivered on time.That’s when Ms. Carroll made another contact with Dr. Rufus Johnson, the Regional Principal who lives near the Griffin CSO and he also helped with the project.
Finally, on June 7, 2012, the plan conceived by caseworkers Caslin-Smith and Brown all came together:Since they couldn’t bring Devonte Pate back to his high school graduation in Eastman, they had found a way to bring a one of a kind graduation ceremony to him.
Devonte Pate received the attention and recognition he deserved for his academic achievement as he was presented his high school diploma by Dr. Johnson at the District Four Staff Appreciation Picnic at Griffin Park.
Graduate Devonte Pate might have left Eastman YDC and his peers behind, but his accomplishments had touched and inspired other members of the DJJ family who helped make his dreams of a formal graduation ceremony come true. Story Notes: Our thanks to former DJJ resident Devonte Pate for permission to use his name in the telling of this story.
Additional special thanks are in order to Ira Caslin-Smith, Carleena Brown, Lester Wright, Coy Satterfield, Dr. Rufus Johnson, Dr. Audrey Armistad, and Joan E. Carroll.
SPOTLIGHT ON DJJ AND EDUCATION: As Georgia`s 181st school district -- the Department of Juvenile Justice places a premium on education.DJJ offers youth in our custody the opportunity to earn a high school diploma from a school system that fully meets the strict standards of the Georgia Department of Education. DJJ students receive 330 minutes of regular or special education instructioneach day and vocational classes are also available to youth committed to the department’s care.
Classes are taught by Certified Instructors, including Special Education Instructors in all classrooms.
The department has 27 schools located at the Regional Youth Detention Centers (RYDC) and the Youth Development Campuses (YDC) throughout the state.The high quality curriculum taught at DJJ schools is accredited by both the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and the Correctional Education Association (CEA).
With theCommissioner of the Department of Juvenile Justice serving a key role as School Superintendent -- and with full support of the DJJ Board functioning as the system’s Board of Education -- DJJ strives to create positive new experiences in learning so our youth will realize education provides a key to a positive future.
The Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice in coordination with the Georgia Department of Human Services and the Georgia Children’s Cabinet are working to eliminate infant deaths while asleep.
Each year, nearly 1,000 children die to choking or suffocation.Experts warn against co-sleeping.Share a room with your baby, not the bed, recliner, or sofa.
While fatalities from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) have declined dramatically since the Nineties, deaths from other sleep-related causes including suffocation, entrapment, and asphyxia have increased.
At the request of Commissioner Gale Buckner, the DJJ Communications Team has created a Safe Sleep Information Center to provide facilities, employees, and the general public information to help parents get the facts they need to protect their newborn children.
The Georgia Gang Investigators Association and the Office of Training present “Basic Street Gangs and Youth”, a one day training to be held July 9th at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center. The training will be held from 8am – 5pm in the auditorium, and registration will begin at 7am. Initial registration for DJJ staff will be completed through TRIS; the schedule ID for the training is 1969 and the course code is 461Z137. Further detailed information related to the training has been included in the flyer below.
Georgia DOC and other law enforcement agencies are also invited to attend the training, so please register as quickly as possible to reserve your seat at the event!
Georgia Gang Investigators Association, Department of Juvenile Justice - Office of Training
Prosecuting Attorneys Council of Georgia
Basic Street Gangs and Youth
Date:July 9, 2012
Time:8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Location:Georgia Public Safety Training Center Auditorium
Gang Instructors:DA Investigator Jose Diaz – Gwinnett DA’s Office , Instructor Wally Marchant - GPSTC, Investigator Joe Amerling – Gainesville PD and Investigator Marco Silva – Gwinnett Co PD
Pursuant to the terms of O.C.G.A. § 50-14-1, notice is hereby given to the public that the monthly meeting of the Board of Juvenile Justice is scheduled for Thursday, May 24, 2012, at 10 a.m. The meeting will be held in the Board Room at 3408 Covington Highway, Decatur, Georgia 30032. The meeting will be held on the Second Floor.
Agenda items include: * Presentation on Partnerships with Juvenile Justice * Recognition of Outgoing Board Member * Open Meetings Law Update * Commissioner’s Report * Chairman's Comments * Board of Education Report
NOTE: If you are an individual with a disability who may require assistance, please contact the Office of Communications at (404) 508-7147. In addition, the July and October Board Meetings have been moved to Wednesday, July 18th and Thursday, October 18th respectively. Both meetings tentatively are scheduled to be held at the Covington Highway facility starting at 10 a.m.
DJJ COMMISSIONER ANNOUNCES PORTER APPOINTED NEW BOARD MEMBER
(ATLANTA - GA) The Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice is pleased to announce the appointment of a newly named DJJ Board member by Governor Nathan Deal.
Commissioner L. Gale Buckner will confirm the appointment of veteran Georgia prosecutor Danny Porter, during the next regular DJJ Board meeting. “We are proud and honored Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter will partner with us in our mission to move this agency closer to its goals,” said Commissioner Buckner.
Danny Porter’s distinguished courtroom career spans nearly thirty years. His role in Gwinnett County criminal prosecutions began immediately after graduation from the University of Georgia School of Law. Starting as a Trial Assistant with the District Attorney's Office in September 1981, only three years later he was promoted to Senior Assistant District Attorney.
While supervising trial attorneys as head of the Trial Division of the D.A.’s office, Porter took on additional duties as Drug Prosecutor and began organizing Gwinnett County’s special drug prosecution unit. He was elected District Attorney in November 1992. Now, after nearly twenty years as D-A, reporters and supporters say Danny Porter still maintains his professional philosophy as a hands-on prosecutor, still shows up at local crime scenes, and still trains new recruits at the county police academy.
He’s known in the courtroom for his high-profile prosecutions, from drug possession and capital murder to white-collar crime. And even though some of his cases have attracted national coverage on Court TV, D.A. Porter has continued to concentrate on local services for crime victims by expanding services like Gwinnett County’s Victim-Witness Program.
D.A. Danny Porter will represent the DJJ Board’s 7th Congressional District, taking the seat recently vacated by former Board Member Bruce Garraway from Grayson. Commissioner Buckner expressed the agency’s appreciation for Board Member Garraway’s service to the Department of Juvenile Justice. The DJJ Board is composed of 15 members representing each Congressional District in the state. DJJ Board members are appointed by the Governor and provide leadership and guidance to the Commissioner in an advisory capacity to the Department of Juvenile Justice.