DJJ Badge Ceremony Highlights Staffing Transition at the Crisp RYDC DJJ Staff  at:  5/20/2015  

DJJ Badge Ceremony Highlights Staffing Transition at Crisp Regional Youth Detention Center

Department of Juvenile Justice Chief-of-Staff Mark Sexton presented state enforcement badges to Juvenile Corrections Officers at the Regional Youth Detention Center in Crisp County this week. The badge presentation ceremony formally marked the transition of operations at the Crisp RYDC from a contractor-controlled facility to a DJJ-staffed facility beginning this month.

Although the secure facility and property in Crisp County is state-owned, the youth detention facility has been run under contract with the State of Georgia by Youth Services International, a privately operated corrections company also known as “YSI”.

The YSI agreement at Crisp RYDC expired at the end of March 2015, but Youth Services International agreed to extend their contracting responsibilities for facility operations until the complete transition to DJJ state-run operations on May 1st, 2015.

“Ceremonies like this are a vital component for building a modern agency’s sense of pride and an outward symbol of integrating these staff members into the DJJ Team,” said DJJ Chief-of-Staff Mark Sexton. “This badge pinning event was planned to recognize the continued commitment and dedication of our team of correctional and law enforcement professionals serving the Crisp RYDC.”

DJJ Commissioner Avery D. Niles said eligible YSI staffers at the southwest Georgia facility were invited to apply for available positions under DJJ’s management. Commissioner Niles noted there was no break in youth services as the Crisp facility transitioned this month to staffing by DJJ state personnel.

“Badge ceremonies are a vital component for showing our agency’s sense of pride, while meeting the many challenges of our 21st century mission,” Commissioner Niles said.

Commissioner Niles said the department carefully planned and accomplished a smooth transition of juvenile detention operations with no interruption of appropriate health, education or nutrition programs for DJJ youth. Just as importantly, the Commissioner’s priority for Safety and Security was carefully preserved. “The Crisp facility completed this transition seamlessly while maintaining normal security, school, medical, programming, and food service operations,” said Niles.

The Commissioner assured that DJJ youth will continue to receive the same level of quality care and educational opportunities they have previously accessed at Crisp RYDC.




     Marietta RYDC: The Shoe Box Campaign DJJ Staff  at:  5/18/2015  


On Mother's Day, the Marietta Regional Youth Detention Center (Marietta RYDC) sponsored the "Fill the Shoe Box Campaign" where the youth and staff of the facility decorates shoe boxes filled with donated and bought hygiene items for local area homeless women. With distribution help from the Cobb County United Way, the event was a huge success and helped out a large number of people.

Cobb/Cherokee Case Expeditor Leah Free was a proud participant in the "Fill the Shoe Box Campaign". Below is her story of how the Marietta RYDC became involved in this great project.

Introducing, Leah Free, Marietta RYDC “Department of One”

As an expeditor, I am a part of the community side of DJJ. I spend the majority of my time in the Cobb Juvenile Courthouse but, when I’m not in court, I’m inside the Marietta RYDC intake area. As a result, I don't work in an office or have the opportunity to attend typical staff meetings or office functions. Despite this, I am the social butterfly that loves to be around people so the Marietta RYDC includes me in their luncheons, PBIS events, and other team exercises. I am very appreciative of the RYDC’s efforts  to include me as part of their family.

The other day, I went into my email and found notification for an event called the “Fill the Shoe Box Campaign.” The job for staff and youth was to decorate shoe boxes and fill them with women’s hygiene products to be donated to the Cobb United Way Woman’s Homeless Shelter for delivery during Mother’s Day.  

Community members from Cobb County and beyond participated in the "Fill the Shoe Box Campaign"

Marietta RYDC organized a competition among its departments for this campaign; the unit that collected the most donations would be awarded a pizza lunch. Well, each department has over five people, some with more than ten. Last on the list was the “department of one”.. the loner.. the cheese that stands alone: Office of Case Expeditor.. me.. Leah Free.

From the beginning, I thought there was no way I could win this competition for donations. I was competing with the security department and all its JCO’s; and the mental health unit with its many staff members. I immediately started thinking about ways around the rules with divisions, percentages, and the like. But then, I really started concentrating outside the wire. My department is technically just one person, myself, but I work on the community side. My department IS the community: Cherokee and Cobb CSO, Cobb Independent Court; service providers; Judges; and members of the public. So, with that in my head, I went on a mission to not only help the homeless women of the community but to also win the competition.

Some of the shoe boxes filled with collected items

In order to win, I needed to reach out to MY community. By bringing community service inside the Marietta RYDC, I was able to let them know what the unit was doing and how our kids were involved in decorating these boxes. Immediately, the donations started rolling in. Friends, family, and service providers who help our Cobb kids show the Facility staff what the community is all about. By the end of a couple weeks of incoming donations, my shoe box became a GIANT tub of donated items from MY “loner” Office of Case Expeditor.

It was such a great feeling to know the community can rally together so well to support important facility causes.  The public realizes these young offenders are not here forever, and that someday they will reenter their communities, so to bring that connection inside the facility was just awesome! It can be the little things that count most with these youth, especially when some have spent time in homeless shelters with their parents, or have taken things from the community that are not theirs.  For people to offer their support to DJJ through community service really makes a difference to many of these kids. It provides the transition and connection to the streets of Cobb County that many kids so desperately need.

I was surprised to see my “Office of One” become the “Office of Won”. While it was a friendly competition of Community-versus-Facility, the fact that we came together for one cause and displayed such great team work was truly an amazing experience. The pizza dinner award will be shared with the newly named Office of Community and Secure Facilities: Marietta Regional Youth Detention Center.

The Marietta RYDC staff during the "Fill the Shoe Box Campaign"







Recently, the youth at the Muscogee Youth Development Campus participating in the Rescue 2 Restore shelter dog training program had the chance to share their stories to an international audience via an interview conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Healthy Pets, Healthy People website. Animal Tales, part of the Healthy Pets, Healthy People section, showcases heart-warming stories that explore the rich bond between animals and people and how animals fit safety into our lives. The story of the Muscogee YDC youth and Rescue 2 Restore will be posted online later this year.




     Albany RYDC: Memorandum of Understanding Luncheon DJJ Staff  at:  5/12/2015  



The Greater Albany Regional Youth Detention Center (Albany RYDC) recently held its first annual Memorandum of Understanding Luncheon on April 30th. A Memorandum of Understanding describes a bilateral or multilateral agreement between two or more parties that expresses a convergence of will between the parties, indicating an intended common line of action. For the Albany RYDC, this Memorandum of Understanding reflects partnerships with law enforcement, judicial groups, medical and other local outside groups that work directly with the facility.

Albany RYDC Director Sandra Cawthon is a strong believer in reaching out to all Memorandum of Understanding holders to establish a closer working relationship both for today and for future endeavors. Among the many Memorandum of Understanding holders in attendance at the luncheon were Dougherty County Sheriff Kevin Sproul, Dougherty County Police Chief Cynthia Battle, Dougherty County Emergency Medical Services Director Greg Rowe. During the luncheon DJJ Emergency Management Coordinator Jessie Milledge discussed the various roles of staff members at the Albany RYDC and took questions from the lunchtime attendees.

The Department of Juvenile Justice would like to thank all of the Memorandum of Understanding stakeholders who attended this inaugural luncheon at the Greater Albany Regional Youth Detention Center.




     District Six Employee Appreciation Luncheon DJJ Staff  at:  5/11/2015  


On May 8th, Department of Juvenile Justice Regional Director Marcia Daniely and her management staff honored the men and women who make up the hard working staff of District Six. With food, fellowship, and and fun for the entire District Six staff, the Employee Appreciation Luncheon was an appropriate ending to a week's worth of thanks during DJJ's Employee Appreciation Week.

District Six encompassee most of Middle Georgia including Bibb, Crawford, Peach, Houston, Wilkinson, Baldwin, Jones, Jasper, Putnam, Hancock, Morgan, and Greene counties. Among the many facilities managed by the District Six staff include the Milledgeville ITU and the Macon RYDC.

Congratulations again to all of the District Six staff who do their part to make the Department of Juvenile Justice one of the best places to work in Georgia. ONE TEAM. ONE MISSION.




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