Governor Signs Third Leg of Criminal Justice Reform DJJ Staff  at:  4/15/2014  

Governor Signs Third Leg of Criminal Justice Reform

News release from the Office of Governor Nathan Deal

At Antioch Baptist Church in Gainesville on Sunday, Gov. Nathan Deal signed into law Senate Bill 365, legislation that will help rehabilitated offenders successfully re-enter society by removing barriers to employment, housing and education. DJJ Commissioner Avery Niles was proud and honored to be present at Governor Deal's signing of this momentous law with his friends and neighbors at his hometown church.

“Building on the success of the landmark criminal justice reforms passed in the 2012 and 2013 sessions, the General Assembly and the Criminal Justice Reform Council worked with me to revolutionize Georgia’s criminal justice standards and strengthen our state’s economy,” Deal said. “The incentives and re-entry programs included in this legislation are cost-effective strategies that will increase the number of former offenders returning to the workforce and supporting their families.”

The new law requires the Board of Corrections to create and implement a program and treatment completion certificate to assist adult offenders with re-entry into society upon release from prison. In order to earn the certificate, the offender must complete any required treatment plan and vocational training while in prison and comply with any re-entry plan while on probation or parole. This bill states that employers demonstrate due care when hiring ex-offenders that earn this certificate, providing them a certain level of immunity from negligent hiring liability that often drives hiring decisions.

This legislation also provides judges with the discretion to deviate from the automatic license suspension for minor drug offenses. This discretion is only available when the drug offense was not directly related to the operation of the motor vehicle and is contingent upon the offender’s completion of any and all treatment programs.

“It is counterproductive to devote the state’s resources to rehabilitating nonviolent offenders and then deny them the ability to independently travel to their place of work,” Deal said. “This legislation strikes the proper balance between opportunity and accountability. Along with the previous two phases of my criminal justice reform, this law will pay dividends to taxpayers and improve the quality of life for all Georgians.”





     National Crime Victims' Rights Week: Appling CSO DJJ Staff  at:  4/11/2014  

National Crime Victims’ Rights Week: Appling County Court Services Office

(L to R) Ryan Ledbetter, JPPS II, Allie Morris, DJJ Intern and Emily Hardwick, Victim Advocate from the District Attorney’s Office, Brunswick Judicial Circuit

Story background by Juvenile Program Manager Kelly Spell

Throughout this year’s thirtieth annual National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, the Department of Juvenile Justice would like to highlight some of the great work being done on behalf of victims across the state of Georgia. For the employees of the Appling County Court Services Office, protecting the rights of victims is a year-round passion for the staff.

Appling Victims' Memorial

Partnering with the Appling County District Attorney’s office among others, the Appling CSO helped create the Victim’s Memorial built from private funds. As part of the Victim’s Memorial is the Victim Memorial Walk, a brick walkway that has on each brick the names and dates of passing of local area victims. 

Bookmarks created by the Appling CSO and District Attorney's Office volunteers

This year, the Appling CSO team designed and created memorial keepsake bookmarks for those attending the Victims’ Rights Memorial Ceremony on April 9th. Using materials provided by the Appling District Attorney’s Office, JPPS II Ryan Ledbetter, DJJ Intern Allie Morris, District Attorney’s Office Victim Advocate Emily Hardwick, JPM Kelly Spell, and her daughter Kendall Faith Spell made more than two hundred bookmarks for the ceremony.

Program from this year's Victims' Rights Memorial Ceremony

DJJ is proud of the efforts of its entire staff in supporting the work of Victims’ Rights organizations and victims around all of Georgia. To learn more about this year’s National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, visit 





     Thomasville National Crime Victims' Rights Week Ceremony DJJ Staff  at:  4/10/2014  

Thomasville National Crime Victims' Rights Week Ceremony

On April 8th, Thomas County honored the victims of crime with a National Crime Victims' Rights Week Ceremony held at the St. Thomas Episcopal Church. Held in conjunction with the Thomas County Family Connection, many of the leaders of Thomas County and Thomasville including State Representative Darlene Taylor, County Commissioner J. Elaine Mays, Senior District Assistant District Attorney Brian McDaniel, and DJJ District Ten Director Laura Pike stopped by to show their support for the victims of crime in Southwest Georgia.

(L to R) Karen Ambrose Clendenin, Victim Rights Advocate; Laura S. Pike, District 10 Director/DJJ; Brian McDaniel, District Attorney’s office; April Senn Hancock, Victim Rights Advocate

Karen Ambrose Clendenin with guests

This year marks an important milestone in the rights of crime victims. The theme -- 30 Years: Restoring the Balance of Justice -- honors the extraordinary progress we have made on behalf of victims since the passage of the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) in 1984. Thirty years is not an invitation to rest on three decades of progress -- although much has been accomplished -- but a reminder of the work still before us to restore the balance of justice to all those harmed by crime.

(L to R) Kathy Megahee, Executive Director, Thomas County Family Connection; Laura S. Pike, District 10 Director/DJJ; Georgia House Rep. Darlene Taylor, District 173

Special thanks to all of the supporters of this year's Thomas County Victims' Rights Ceremony:

Halcyon Home, Inc.
Beef O' Brady's
Singletary Flowers
St. Thomas Episcopal Church
Thomasville Police Department
Thomas County Sheriff's Office
Gayle Phillips

To learn more about Victims' Rights Week in Georgia, visit .





     Coach Tony Dungy Visits the Gwinnett RYDC with the One Heart Project and All Pro Dad DJJ Staff  at:  4/10/2014  


On April 9th, the youth at the Gwinnett RYDC received a special surprise as Super Bowl winning coach Tony Dungy along with former NFL stars Wayne Gandy and Chris Draft visited the Gwinnett Regional Youth Detention Center as part of a joint effort to help motivate and educate incarcerated and at-risk youth around the country.

Speaking before a group of attentive Gwinnett RYDC youth, Coach Dungy emphasized the importance of obtaining a solid education and making the right decisions in order to have the best possible outcomes to one’s life. Citing the significance of faith in his life, Coach Dungy told the youth in attendance that it is not always easy to do the right thing, but ultimately the rewards of doing so will be worthwhile. The coach also noted that dedication to family and fatherhood is a key to his success as a NFL player, coach, and broadcaster and that the emotional foundation built by his family sustains him today and is a goal that can reached by all.

NFL alumni Gandy and Draft echoed the positive message of Coach Dungy during their time at the Gwinnett facility. Both highlighted that hard work, discipline, and dedication to things that you love will guarantee success in all things in life. Further, each made it a point to stress that where you came from should not dictate where you go and what you do in the future.

All Pro Dad is the Family First Foundation’s innovative and unique program for every father. Striving to help fathers become passionate about their role in their family’s life, All Pro Dad works daily to provide them every resource needed to rightly train up their children and give them a hopeful future. Their aim is to interlock the hearts of the fathers with their children and as a byproduct the hearts of the children with their dads.

The One Heart Project is an activation campaign with the purpose of mobilizing individuals and organizations across America to participate in a movement to impact incarcerated and at-risk youth through two initiatives: a) a standardized redirection initiative, and b) a standardized reentry initiative.

On behalf of Director Tanja White and entire Gwinnett RYDC staff, DJJ would like to thank Coach Dungy, Wayne Gandy, and Chris Draft for sharing their inspirational message with our youth. Special thanks goes out to Steve Riach and Russell Lake of the One Heart Project and Mark Merrill, Darrin Gray, George Woods, and Jordan Bellar of All Pro Dad for helping make this special presentation possible.

To learn more about the One Heart Project, visit them on the web at For news and information about All Pro Dad, join them at To participate in the Department of Juvenile Justice’s Project F.A.C.E. and Volunteer Service Programs, click to learn on and respectively.





     Child Abuse Prevention Month at DJJ DJJ Staff  at:  4/8/2014  

Child Abuse Prevention Month at DJJ

JPPS Todd Jones of the Thomas CSO wearing blue to show solidarity for National Child Abuse Prevention Month

National Child Abuse Prevention Month is a time to acknowledge the importance of families and communities working together to prevent child abuse and neglect, and to promote the social and emotional well-being of children and families. During the month of April and throughout the year, communities are encouraged to share child abuse and neglect prevention awareness strategies and activities and promote prevention across the country.

The Georgia Children's Cabinet is encouraging all state employees to spread the word about child abuse prevention and help end abuse in Georgia. The Department of Juvenile Justice is proud to support the effort of the Georgia Children's Cabinet and the work of all Georgians to keep children safe from physical and mental abuse.

To learn more about National Child Abuse Prevention Month, visit





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