"Bountiful Harvest" is thriving at the Department of Juvenile Justice

This summer, the Sumter Youth Development Campus (Sumter YDC) is showing off its green thumb with the creation of "Bountiful Harvest", a youth program Community Garden. Sponsored by the good folks at Well Care Georgia (, "Bountiful Harvest" is a self-contained vegetable garden maintained by the youth of the facility. In addition to providing an abundance of okra, tomatoes, and peppers, the garden also helps to teach our youth responsibility and an appreciation of hard work and the great outdoors. This year's crop was distributed to families visiting youth housed at the Sumter YDC on Saturday, July 20th.

Patricia Hill, Sumter YDC

"Bountiful Harvest Community Garden" came to fruition under Sumter YDC Director Delbert Montgomery's vision for a gardening project. With the assistance of DJJ's Grants Coordinator Allyson Richardson, a grant application was submitted to Well Care Georgia and the Sumter YDC was awarded $500 for the project.

Kimbely Poole of Well Care Georgia with Jermaine Jackson of Koinonia Farms

Koinonia Farms, founded over sixty-five years ago by founder Clarence Jordan, help partner with Sumter YDC in the gardening project. Other organizations that provided assistance and resources included Cafe Campesino, the University of Georgia Agricultural Office--Sumter County, the Fort Valley Agricultural Office, and Habitat for Humanity.

Bountiful Harvest "Community Garden" start-up

Jermaine Jackson, who works with Koinonia Farms, is passionate about helping people learn about the many opportunities that exist through community gardening. Mr. Jackson assisted from the start of the project, helping to set-up the raised beds and with putting the first plants into the garden.

Congratulations to all the youth at Sumter who participated this year and special thanks go out again to Kimberly Poole at Well Care, Patricia Hill from DJJ, and Dr. Diane Cerjan who donate plants to the project.







Upcoming July/August Job Fairs Focus on Hiring Former Military Personnel for Juvenile Justice Careers

As part of our agency’s commitment to Governor Nathan Deal’s 'Hire a Georgia Veteran Campaign’, the Department of Juvenile Justice is proud to participate in several upcoming job fairs in metro Atlanta focusing on finding careers for former members of the United States military. DJJ is actively targeting former military personnel for employment in large part due to their unique skill sets of discipline, deployment experience, and leadership ability.  These skills translate well in working with and providing a positive influence on the lives of Georgia youth under the care of the Department of Juvenile Justice.

The first of these Veterans’ Job Fairs will take place on Wednesday, July 17th from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Clairmont Presbyterian Church located at 1994 Clairmont Road in Decatur.  While registration is not required for job seekers, attendees are asked to bring multiple copies of their resume and to “dress to impress”. 

The Department of Juvenile Justice will also be recruiting at the Seventh Annual CareerFest Job Fair on Thursday, July 18th from 9:30 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. at the Norcross First United Methodist Church located at 25000 Beaver Ruin Road in Norcross.  Sponsored by the Norcross First United Methodist Church, the Norcross Cooperative Ministries, and Georgia Department of Labor-Gwinnett Career Center, the CareerFest Job Fair will provide a great opportunity for veterans to meet up with potential employers as well as provide seminars and workshops to give attendees essential job seeking experience.  Attendees are encouraged to bring multiple copies of their resumes and dress professionally for the CareerFest.

The third of the metro Atlanta Job Fairs will take place with the Veterans Career Fair and Job Expo on Wednesday, August 7th from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. at the Atlanta Motor Speedway located at 1500 Tara Place in Hampton.    More than 30 H.R. managers will be hiring candidates for over 500 positions at the Job Expo.  Candidates must pre-register at, dress appropriately, and have their resumes readily available.

 According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2013, there are more than 744,000 unemployed veterans in the United States with more unemployed veterans ages 55 and over than any other age group.  At DJJ, we support Governor Nathan Deal’s statewide initiative to ensure veterans can transition smoothly into Georgia’s civilian workforce.  The Department of Juvenile Justice has 28 secure facilities around the state and most every location offers career opportunities in facility support services ranging from Law Enforcement, Health Care and Food Services to Administration, Behavioral Health, Education, and more.

The State Workforce Investment Board recently voted to grant top workforce service priority to Georgia Veterans and their spouses.  But if you’re a Veteran, you may already be aware that the Department of Juvenile Justice has been hard at work recruiting top tier career candidates like you to fill our ranks with the special skills and experience you bring to any workforce.

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.

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.

“This special skill set now carries over into my new career with the State of Georgia as I am assigned the task of change management for the Department of Juvenile Justice,” said Sexton. “The State of Georgia is an excellent career destination.”  

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.”

For more information about careers at DJJ, click on  For details on the DJJ Military Veterans Incentive,  click on





     Project F.A.C.E. Mentor/Mentee Matchp at the Gainesville RYDC DJJ Staff  at:  6/12/2013  


On June 10th, the Gainesville RYDC hosted the Project F.A.C.E. Mentor/Mentee Matchup Day bringing together volunteers from the local community as they get to know and work with individual youth in the juvenile justice system. In what will be the first of many Matchup Days across the state, staff and DJJ leadership including DJJ Commissioner Avery Niles, Deputy Commissioner Sarah Draper, and Assistant Deputy Commissioner Miguel Fernandez participated in the day's activities.

Project F.A.C.E., the Department of Juvenile Justice's Faith and Community Engagement program, seeks to create an organizational culture that balances public safety and youth accountability through partnerships that positively support at-risk youth in their communities. Through activities such as tutoring, reading, sports, and the arts, local citizens can make a difference in the lives of individual youth in DJJ facilities by getting to know them, offering support, and by showing them the direction to a productive and fulfilling life.

Below are some of the photos from the Gainesville Project F.A.C.E. Mentor/Mentee Matchup Day. Special thanks go out to the Project F.A.C.E. Team of Denise McClain, Carrie T. Hamilton, and Andre' Cheek. To learn more about Project F.A.C.E., visit them online at .





     Metro RYDC Celebrates Fifteen Years of Service DJJ Staff  at:  5/31/2013  


On May 31st, the Metro Regional Youth Detention Center (RYDC) held a celebration to commemorate fifteen years of service to the youth of Georgia.  The Metro RYDC is the largest regional youth detention center in Georgia with two hundred beds in the facility.


As part of the commemoration, a sit down breakfast was held for all of the Metro RYDC staff.  Guest speakers at the breakfast included DJJ Assistant Commissioner Mark Sexton, Classification and Transportation Director Lisa Casey-Bryson, and Statewide Security Risk Group Coordinator Monique Brandenburg.  All of the dignitaries were given a tour of the RYDC facility after the staff breakfast.


Warranting special recognition were the eight original staff members still employed at the facility since its opening in 1998.  In addition, the ceremony included a tribute by the facility youth and educational department to the Georgia Preparatory Academy, the renamed school system for the Department of Juvenile Justice.  Officer Ricky Johnson was praised by Assistant Commissioner Sexton for his graduation with honors at the most recent BJCOT (Basic Juvenile Correctional Officers Training) class at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center.


The youth at the Metro RYDC also got to experience the fun of the fifteen year celebration.  A barbeque was served that included hamburgers, hotdogs, popcorn, nachos, and snow cones from a machine. The festival atmosphere was highlighted by activities that included games and inflatables.

Congratulations again to the entire Metro Regional Youth Detention Center staff for all of their hard work over the past fifteen years for the youth and citizens of Georgia.





     Supporting the Juvenile Justice Family: DJJ and the National Correctional Peace Officers Foundation DJJ Staff  at:  5/9/2013  


At the Department of Juvenile Justice, the concept of family is important to the overall success of the organization.  DJJ is more than just a job; it is a unified group that works together out of a faith that the goals of juvenile justice are important and worth believing in. 

For Commissioner Avery Niles, the strong bonds of the DJJ family at work extend past normal working hours.  If someone who is part of DJJ needs help and support, they will receive it from the entire team, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

It is part of this strong believe in teamwork and family that Commissioner Niles is proud to announce a partnership between the Department of Juvenile Justice and the Correctional Peace Officer Foundation. 

The Correctional Peace Officers (CPO) Foundation is a non-profit organization of, by, and for Correctional Officers.  It was created in 1984 and is devoted to sustaining, supporting, and assisting the surviving families of Correctional Officers slain in the line of duty at the hands of incarcerated felons.  The CPO Foundation strives to promote and project a positive image of the Corrections profession and practitioners, both internally and for the general public. 

However, the real goal and message of the CPO Foundation is similar to that of DJJ: taking care of our own.  The CPO Foundation helps out corrections officers during all types of catastrophic need.  According to Rose Williams, Georgia Field Representative for the CPO Foundation, the charity exists to assist all those work in the field of corrections, regardless of their need.  She has yet to see a request for help turned down by the national CPO Foundation leadership.

To highlight this dedication to support, Ms. Williams recently visited the DJJ Central Office with Gary Evans, CPO Foundation Chaplain, to assit out a juvenile justice employee in need.  Shyra Ashcraft, a JCO I at the Metro RYDC, was presented a check for $500 to help her financially during a recent family crisis. Shyra’s grandmother Margaret Harris, a retired Federal Prisons employee, and her  brother Rod Ashcraft, who is newly enlisted in the military, also attended the presentation.

“The CPO Foundation is a great organization,” said DJJ Commissioner Avery Niles.  “Tragedy happens in everyone’s lives and it is what you do for those in need that matters.  When you are in need, every little bit helps to make life better.”

The Department of Juvenile Justice is proud to partner with the Correctional Peace Officers Foundation and its nearly 87,000 members nationwide and over 4,000 in Georgia.  For more information on the Correctional Peace Officers Foundation, visit them at .





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