On Thursday, March 28th, the Savannah RYDC hosted an all-day Women’s History Month Celebration in honor of National Women’s History Month. Special guest speakers included Savannah Mayor Edna Jackson, WTOC Co-Anchor Brandi Cummings, and Judge Lisa Colbert.

Below are some photos from the event festivities. Special thanks to everyone who participated and helped organize this great event.

Janese Cooper, owner of Kuman of Savannah Math & Reading Center

Mrs. Evalena Hoskins of the Savannah RYDC with Chatham County Chief Judge Tammy Stokes, and Savannah Mayor Edna Jackson

Chatham County Juvenile Court Judge Lisa Colbert with Chatham County Superior Court Chief Judge Tammy Stokes

Savannah Mayor Edna Jackson talking to the girls

Mrs. Marco Hicks-Brown (a teacher at Savannah RYDC) and Mrs. Michelle Rouche (Michelle's Women's Ministries) showing off their stripes and pink

Mrs. Michelle Rouche talks about the importance of having big dreams

Chief Judge Tammy Stokes reading poetry to the girls

The Savannah RYDC girls and staff participating in Zumba in the multi-purpose area





     Commissioner Niles Awarded NABCJ Law Enforcement Award Lisa Kenn  at:  3/28/2013  

The National Assocation of Blacks in Criminal Justice (NABCJ) has chosen to honor Department of Juvenile Justice Commissioner Avery D. Niles by awarding him with this year's NABCJ Law Enforcement Award. Commissioner Niles will be receiving his award during the Georgia Chapter of NABCJ Scholarship and Awards Luncheon to take place on April 5th at the Clark Atlanta University Student Center. Additional details on the luncheon can be downloaded here.

Founded in 1974, the NABCJ is a multi-ethnic, non-profit, nonpartisan organization that is dedicated to improving the criminal justice system. The NABCJ Law Enforcement Award will be one of three major awards including the Community Service and Humanitarian Awards that will be presented at this year's luncheon.

Nominated for the Law Enforcement Award by a local NABCJ member, Commissioner Niles was selected for this honor due to his twenty-seven year history of distinguished law enforcement service, criminal justice experience, and proven leadership ability. Entering law enforcement at age twenty as a patrolman with the Hall County Sheriff's Office, Commissioner Niles' commitment to law enforcement and the community that he serves has never waivered.

For more information on the National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice, visit them on the web at








(Washington County - GA)  Commissioner Avery D. Niles of the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice announced today that Baldwin County Sheriff’s Deputies have arrested the Administrative Operations Coordinator of the Sandersville RYDC. The arrest was made as part of a DJJ Internal Affairs Investigation in connection with the suspected theft of state funds from deposits of corrections staff meal sales at the Sandersville Regional Youth Detention Center.


Commissioner Avery Niles said Administrative Operations Coordinator James Sanders, who had functioned as business manager for the Sandersville RYDC, was taken into custody this afternoon by deputies from the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office.  Sanders was charged with 21 felony counts of Theft by Taking. 


Sanders had been placed under suspension without further access to facility funds after a discrepancy in sales deposits was discovered by a DJJ Central Office Audit Team. Commissioner Niles has ordered Sanders’ immediate separation from the department in conjunction with today’s felony arrest with termination proceedings already underway.


The Commissioner says DJJ Internal Affairs determined Sanders was allegedly withdrawing cash illegally from the agency meal account and replacing the cash with personal checks.  When investigators obtained a subpoena for Sanders’ bank account, they discovered the thefts allegedly occurred more than 20 times over a period of several months and totaled more than two thousand dollars. The compromised agency account was discovered when Sanders allegedly replaced state cash with a bounced check, resulting in his arrest.


Investigators say they have no evidence at this time to indicate the former Administrative Operations Coordinator was syphoning money from any other agency accounts. Nonetheless, the Commissioner of the Department of Juvenile Justice ordered a Central Office Audit Team examination at the Sandersville RYDC.


Commissioner Avery Niles endorses transparency when DJJ must take strong measures like today’s arrest of former Administrative Operations Coordinator James Sanders.


Commissioner Niles said, “At the Department of Juvenile Justice, staff members who violate positions of trust and responsibility will continue to face severe consequences, regardless of employee rank or position in this agency. I gave clear warning when I was appointed Commissioner that criminal behavior and serious violations of policy will not be tolerated in our professional juvenile justice workplace,” said Niles. 


Suspect James Sanders will be held at the Washington County Jail. The investigation by the DJJ Office of Internal Affairs continues at this time.


The Commissioner’s’ core message since his November 2012 appointment by Governor Nathan Deal has emphasized that the critical duties of the Department of Juvenile Justice are to uphold and enforce policy, ethics, and safety and security measures at Georgia’s juvenile justice facilities so that both DJJ detainees and staff can function in a safe and secure learning environment. 



DJJ DISCLAIMER: “Information regarding this arrest is public record and was obtained from area law enforcement agencies. All suspects are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law.”


Jim Shuler, Director  

DJJ Communications

(404) 508-7238






     Georgia Law Enforcement 'On Look-Out' for Veterans: DJJ Recruitment DJJ Staff  at:  3/25/2013  


(GLENNVILLE - GA) Georgia military personnel returning from duty are in big demand here as Georgia law enforcement agencies have more than 800 jobs waiting for them to apply. A vanguard of state H-R departments is reaching out this spring to veterans who are looking for work.

State of Georgia agency recruiters are hosting a job fair for returning veterans at the National Guard Armory in Glennville, Georgia.  It’s scheduled soon from 10:00am to 2:00pm on April 17th and it’s free to veterans who register on line.

Why are veterans such a sought after commodity in the Georgia job market?  “Because from deployment to employment, veterans are typically candidates who can distinguish themselves in any job description,” says Commissioner Avery D. Niles at the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice.

“Veterans bring discipline, maturity, experience and leadership skills to your work place,” said Commissioner Niles.  “That makes them the kind of candidate we’re seeking most for positions involving responsibility and trust.”

Commissioner Niles is in a position to know.  He recently hired Lt. Colonel Mark Sexton, U.S. Army Retired, for the Commissioner’s top executive staff spot at DJJ Central Office.  Now as DJJ’s new Assistant Commissioner, Sexton is drawing on more than 20 years of experience as a commissioned officer in key military posts around the world to help restructure DJJ’s Central Office operations.

“As an integral element of my military background I was expected to direct specialized work forces, streamline organizations, increase productivity and produce outstanding safety records,” says Assistant Commissioner Sexton.

DJJ provides a unique opportunity for service members to apply their discipline, deployment experience, and leadership skills to establish a positive influence on the lives of Georgia youth under their care.

“We support Governor Nathan Deal’s ‘Hire a Georgia Veteran campaign,” said Commissioner Avery Niles. “We proudly signed the Governor’s pledge to provide enhanced hiring opportunities for veterans. Assistant Commissioner Sexton served his country as a Lt. Colonel and now we look forward to working together with him on the DJJ Team serving the State of Georgia.

DJJ offers a one-time Military Salary Increase Incentive to current and former military service members on eligible job titles, who have served on active duty.  To be eligible, service members must have an Honorable Discharge.  The one-time incentive will be based upon the current number of active duty years served. Governor Deal has said that ensuring that these heroes find meaningful employment as they return home is one of Georgia’s top priorities.

The April 17th job fair at the National Guard Armory in Glennville, Georgia is one of several upcoming statewide initiatives designed to help a wave of 80-thousand Georgia veterans who are expected to enter the state’s workforce by 2016.  In September 2012, the Department of Corrections hosted a similar veterans’ job fair at the DOC offices in Forsyth, Georgia and more than 220 veterans registered for the event.

The Glennville job fair will be hosted again by the Georgia Department of Corrections, the state Department of Defense and the National Guard.  The Department of Public Safety, Department of Natural Resources and DJJ will all have personnel on hand to answer questions from candidates.

Recruiters are looking for qualified candidates to hire for a wide range of career positions including administration, transportation, communications, probation, I-T, engineering, counseling, maintenance, and state patrol and correctional officers.

“Veterans understand discipline and take pride in their work,” said Commissioner Niles. “The Department of Juvenile Justice is proud to offer new opportunities to these men and women who have served their country.  All of Georgia’s state agencies are privileged to open new career paths to our U.S. veterans.”

The Department of Juvenile Justice has career opportunities available for Administrative positions, Corrections and Transportation Officers, Security Emergency Response Teams, Probation and Parole Specialists, Registered Nurses and Physicians, Professional Social Workers, Special Education Teachers and more.  Candidates who don’t want to miss an opportunity to begin a career in State law Enforcement should register at

For more information about the Department of Juvenile Justice job fair schedule in April click on .

For more information about careers at DJJ click on




     DJJ Commissioner Announces Two New Board Member Appointments DJJ Staff  at:  3/22/2013  

(ATLANTA - GA)  The Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice is pleased to announce the appointment of two DJJ Board members newly named by Governor Nathan Deal.


Today Commissioner Avery D. Niles confirmed the appointments of Mr. Fred E. Stephens and Mr. Dick Yarbrough to the Georgia Board of Juvenile Justice.


Mr. Dick Yarbrough is a retired vice president of BellSouth Corporation. He also served as a Managing Director of Atlanta’s 1996 Centennial Olympic Games. “Dick” Yarbrough is best known as one of the state’s most popular and widely read syndicated newspaper columnists.


 He is a University of Georgia graduate and past president of the National Alumni Association.  Yarbrough and his wife, Jane, have two children, three grandchildren and one great-grandson. They reside in Atlanta. As DJJ’s newest Board Member, Yarbrough was appointed by Governor Deal to represent Congressional District 11.


Yarbrough said, ‘I know juvenile justice reform has long been a priority for Governor Deal and the Georgia Legislature and I appreciate this opportunity to serve on the Board.  I am looking forward to working with Commissioner Avery Niles and DJJ’s 4,000 men and women across the state in their mission to help juvenile offenders become productive citizens.  I can think of nothing more important to the future of our state than this effort to rehabilitate these young lives.”


Governor Deal appointed Mr. Fred E. Stephens of Cleveland, Georgia to represent the Board’s Ninth Congressional District.  Stephens currently serves as an Assistant Chief of Police of Field Operations for the Athens-Clarke County Police Department.


Chief Stephens will represent the Board District previously occupied by former Board Chairman Avery Niles before he was named DJJ Commissioner.  Chief Stephens is a former GBI agent.  He retired from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation in 2012 after more than 31 years of service.


Chief Stephens earned a Bachelor’s Degree from Newberry College and a Master’s in Public Administration from Columbus State University.  He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy, the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police Command College, and the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange.  He and his wife, Laura, have two children and reside in White County, Georgia. 


Chief Stephens said “I’m thankful for this appointment as a new Board Member. I view it as a great opportunity to contribute to my community in whatever small ways I can.” Stephens said he values the youth of our communities and the chance to rehabilitate those young people who have gone astray, using access to education as a foundation for their freedom.  DJJ is the state’s 181st school district and has dual accreditation with the State of Georgia.


DJJ Board members are appointed by the Governor to serve in an advisory capacity to the Department of Juvenile Justice, providing leadership and guidance to the Commissioner. The Board is made up of 15 members representing each Congressional District in the state to help improve Georgia’s juvenile justice system.


Commissioner Avery D. Niles expressed the appreciation of the agency and the Board for the Governor’s latest appointments to DJJ.  “We admire the professionalism and dedication to public service these new Board Members will bring to this task,” said Commissioner Niles.  “Mr. Yarbrough and Chief Stephens will make excellent assets to the Board and we wish them all the best as they face the many challenges that will come with Georgia’s juvenile justice reforms.”


                                                               (END RELEASE)

For more information, contact

Jim Shuler, Director

March 22, 2013                                                                                 

DJJ Communications

(404) 508-7238


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