2014 DJJ Veterans Day Message DJJ Staff  at:  11/7/2014  

2014 DJJ Veterans Day Message

The Department of Juvenile Justice Salutes All Our Employees Who Served in the Armed Forces

DJJ Staff,

Please join with us as we observe this Veterans Day holiday with honors to the dedicated men and women who have stood their ground in this country’s uniform and sworn to protect it from enemies, “both foreign and domestic”. Few people we know have given more to this country than our veterans who have served in the United States Armed Forces in times of peace and in war. They have so often risked so much to overcome enemy conflicts for their fellow Americans and to secure the peace for our generations yet unborn.

You do not have to look far for these citizen soldiers. They work beside you every day at DJJ. They are Juvenile Corrections Officers and agency administrators-- They are DJJ investigators and I-T professionals-- You’ll find them in our community programs, our support services and in Human Resources.

Our veterans bring their knowledge, their skills, and their unwavering commitment on the job with them. When they stand-down from military service, they stand up for the good of our communities. So once a year, at the 11th hour, on the 11th day, of the 11th month, we pause to honor the legacy of America’s veterans in defense of liberty. Look closely and you will find the names of more than five hundred DJJ Team Members embedded in our Veterans Day graphic salute.

On this day, we should remember the names of their families as well. Because veterans’ families share in this country’s greatest national sacrifice and must help carry the hardships of military service. We salute all veterans’ families for the support they provide when their service members are away from home—and when they return.

Happy Veterans Day to those dedicated men and women who have shown so much love for our country. God bless our Veterans-- And may God continue to bless this wonderful country of ours.

“One Team – One Mission”.

Avery D. Niles, Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice Commissioner

J. Mark Sexton, Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice Assistant Commissioner






     DJJ Commissioner Avery D. Niles Elected to ACA Board of Governors DJJ Staff  at:  11/6/2014  

DJJ Commissioner Avery D. Niles Elected to ACA Board of Governors:
Niles Pledges Strong Support for Juvenile Justice Reforms

The Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice is pleased to announce DJJ Commissioner Avery D. Niles has been elected to the Board of Governors of the American Correctional Association (ACA) for the 2015 – 2019 term. The official election results will be declared during the upcoming ACA Winter Conference in Long Beach, California where Commissioner Niles will be sworn in this February.

The American Correctional Association was founded in 1870 as the "National Prison Association", an organization that has historically championed the cause of correctional best practices for more than 143 years. Its first Declaration of Principles was universally accepted as the guidelines for corrections institutions throughout the United States and Europe.

DJJ's Commissioner Avery Niles, who is a strong proponent for juvenile justice reform laws, promised to use his 28-year criminal justice background to assist the nationwide ACA membership to develop working policies and procedures for successful community reentry programs to help reduce recidivism.

Niles has served Georgia's Governor as a Juvenile Justice Board member and Board Chairman. As DJJ Commissioner he is appointed to the Governor's Committees for Juvenile Justice Grants, Accountability Courts and Faith-Based Initiatives, and represents Georgia as State Council Chairman in the nationwide Interstate Compact on Juveniles.

Along with Commissioner Niles, DJJ Medical Director, Michelle Staples-Horne was also elected to a significant ACA post during the recent elections. Dr. Staples-Horne, who is a certified correctional health professional and has served as medical director for the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice for more than 20 years, was elected to the ACA Commission on Accreditation for Corrections.

A stand-out veteran DJJ leader, Dr. Staples-Horne has served on the ACA's Correctional Awards Committee, the Juvenile Committee and the Health Care Committee. She has conducted training for the ACA and previously served on the ACA Delegate Assembly.

Commissioner Niles said he plans to use his new standing with the ACA Board of Governors to help other juvenile justice systems find ways to reduce recidivism among their young offender populations.

"I am honored the ACA membership has placed their confidence in me to be a member of their Board of Governors," said Commissioner Avery Niles. "It is my sincere hope that our decisions during this next term will help develop and reinforce a framework of juvenile justice reforms wherever they are needed. Through the strong leadership provided by the American Correctional Association and the partnerships we forge, I believe much can be accomplished in the next four years to shape the future of juvenile corrections," said Niles.

ACA is now the oldest professional association developed specifically for correctional career practitioners. As advances in practice and theory have been updated by the membership, so has the name of the organization. The "American Prison Association" underwent a name change to become the American Correctional Association, reflecting the expanding philosophies of corrections and its increasingly important role in our communities. Today, the ACA has thousands of professional members working all over the world.

DJJ Commissioner Avery D. Niles is a former warden of the Hall County Correctional Institute and commander of the Hall County Detention Center. Niles holds a degree in Criminal Justice from Columbus State University. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy, Georgia Law Enforcement Command College and Georgia Police Academy. He and his wife, Charlene, reside in Gainesville with their daughter and god-daughter.





     Views from Red Ribbon Week at the Georgia Preparatory Academy and DJJ DJJ Staff  at:  11/5/2014  

Views from Red Ribbon Week at the
Georgia Preparatory Academy and DJJ

Recently, the Georgia Preparatory Academy and the Department of Juvenile Justice participated in Red Ribbon Week as part of the nationwide Red Ribbon Campaign for youth and communities to stop drug use and abuse in the country. The mission of the Red Ribbon Campaign is to present a unified and visible commitment toward the creation of a Drug-Free America. This year's theme of Red Ribbon Week was "Love Yourself. Be Drug Free".

As part of its goal towards eliminating the dangers of illegal drugs in our cities and towns, the Georgia Preparatory Academy and Department of Juvenile Justice planned an array of activities throughout Red Ribbon Week geared toward teaching the importance of avoiding the bad situations and decisions. As educators know, the first step to a successful outcome begins with the learning process and all health lessons during Red Ribbon Week stressed the positives of a drug-free live. Youth who are informed about drug dangers regularly are 42% less likely to use drugs than those who do not have discussions about drugs.

One of the most important events of Red Ribbon Week took place when youth were encourage to sign a pledge stating that they would grow up safe, healthy, and drug free. Among the agreements of the signed pledge included:

  • Understanding the dangers of drug use and abuse and setting goals for not using drugs

  • Talking with parents and guardians to know their rules about smoking and drinking and the consequences for breaking those rules

  • Setting a good example for friends, family member and classmates by not using drugs, alcohol or tobacco

A popular part of the week involved Drug-Free Art Day where posters were created with anti-drug education themes and information. These themes were developed during the school week where classes in research and reports regarding the current use and harmful effects of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs were discussed. Speakers during the week stressed the effects and high cost on our society regarding drug use, law enforcement, and public health care.

Many DJJ facilities also hosted a "Walk Out on Drugs" Walk-A-Thon and "Say Boo To Drugs" Anti-Drug Festival. In both of these events, healthy activities took place such as jump rope stations, bowling, hula hoop stations, basketball shooting, and a wide variety of physical and team building exercises. While fun in their own right, these events helped to bring together the youth and help everyone understand that a clean and sober lifestyle is rewarding and worth living.

The Georgia Preparatory Academy and the Department of Juvenile Justice would like to thank everyone who participated in Red Ribbon Week across Georgia. For more information on the Red Ribbon Campaign, visit http://redribbon.org/.




     More from National Bullying Prevention Month DJJ Staff  at:  11/4/2014  

More from National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month

October was National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month and the Department of Juvenile Justice was front and center in leading educational efforts to stop bullying in its tracks. National Bullying Prevention Month is a campaign in the United States founded in 2006 by the National Bullying Prevention Center. The campaign is held during the month of October and unites communities nationwide to educate and raise awareness of bullying prevention. The Department of Juvenile Justice held anti-bullying discussion groups in facilities across Georgia during the campaign.



Arranged by the Office of Victim, Volunteer, and Chaplaincy Services, the Department of Juvenile Justice held one of its initial anti-bullying group presentations at the Atlanta Youth Development Center. Led by Victim Advocate, Loronda C. Giddens, the goal of the presentation was to increase awareness around the growing problem of bullying and to identify the warning signs, types of bullying, prevention tips and resources available to assist victims of bullying. A spirited group discussion that included issues facing LGBTQ youth was well received by those in attendance and helped to shed light on the problems associated with all forms of bullying.


Using PowerPoint and YouTube videos, the anti-bullying message touched home at the Marietta RYDC. According to Marietta RYDC Assistant Director Antonius Robinson, the presentation was "pretty darn good" and kept the youth engaged and thinking. During the discussion part of the event, questions about how to keep one's anger in check and avoid fighting back when others bully were brought up and answered in a way that gave day-to-day real world solutions for the youth in the facility. As a result of the success of this presention, future meetings were scheduled to build upon the lessons learned during this event.



Other National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month activities took place across the state and featured unique speakers. Each presentation was tailored specifically to meet the needs and requests of youth in their local area.

Special thanks again to the Office of Victim, Volunteer, and Chaplaincy Services and all those who helped organize all the events for National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month at the Department of Juvenile Justice.





     District Eleven News: Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Bullying Prevention DJJ Staff  at:  11/3/2014  


Recently, District Eleven in Southeast Georgia hosted several sessions in local facilities stressing the importance of avoiding violent situations while dating as well as the need to stand up against all forms of bullying.

Zina Ponsell, Prevention Coordinator for Satilla Advocacy Services

The Ware County HITS (High Intensity Team Supervision) introduced Zina Ponsell, Prevention Coordinator of Satilla Advocacy Services, for its Anti-Bullying, Anti-Teen Dating Violence campaign. Satilla Advocacy Services works with the Department of Juvenile Justice to provide support for victims of physical or sexual abuse. Ms. Ponsell's presentation stressed the importance of recognizing warning signs while dating and stopping bullying before it becomes more of a problem.

Ron Roberts with the Rape Crisis Center of the Coastal Empire

Cheryl Branch, Director of Safe Shelter with Ron Roberts and DJJ staff/youth

DJJ Youth at the Chatham MSC

On October 29th, the Chatham MSC staff held a Teen Dating Violence Awareness event for the youth supervised in the local community. Facilitated by Cheryl Branch, Director of Safe Shelter for Women, and Ron Roberts, Director of the Rape Crisis Center of the Coastal Empire, the program shared information on how to spot warning signs of domestic violence in dating and where one could find help for violence in the Savannah area.

The Chatham MSC staff also participated in a Bullying Prevention Forum sponsored by the Chatham County District Attorney's Office. The forum featured panel members from the Savannah-Chatham School District, Chatham County Juvenile Court, and the Chatham County District Attorney's Office. After listening to a first-hand account of bullying, audience participants were able to ask questions of the experts on the panels. The information shared during this forum will be used by the Chatham JPPS staff for incorporating into youth educational programs.




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