Treats 2 Restore: DJJ's Rescue 2 Restore Service Project DJJ Staff  at:  1/20/2016  

Treats 2 Restore: DJJ's Rescue 2 Restore Service Project

Special thanks to Kelly Lewis of Rescue 2 Restore for her story help...

Recently, the Department of Juvenile Justice’s Rescue 2 Restore program was the proud recipient of a national support service education grant. Each year, State Farm in partnership with Youth Services America, offers a limited number of grants to promote programs in schools that help students find their voice, take action, and make an impact in their communities. Under the leadership of Rescue 2 Restore Coordinator Chrissy Kaczynski, DJJ was one of twenty organizations nationwide that won the $5,000 grant to help bring animal related service opportunities to the students of the Georgia Preparatory Academy. The main use of the grant will be to implement an education curriculum that teaches students to recognize animal related issues of concern, implement a plan for service, initiate that plan, and execute a Service Learning Project.

The first project of the new Rescue 2 Restore grant is Treats 2 Restore. Taking place as a “Day of Service” on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Treats 2 Restore is an event planned by students aimed at gathering volunteers to help address student issues of concern, in this case, animal welfare. The female students from the Macon RYDC were given the honor to plan the first event.

In traditional schools, an event planned by students, aimed at gathering volunteers to help address the student’s issue of concern, would simply mean putting out a call for volunteers to show up and assist. Given the constraints of a security facility, the girls were forced to think outside the box in order to engage their communities. For this reason, the youth developed an internet marking campaign for the Rescue 2 Restore staff to share on Facebook. In this campaign, they asked volunteers from the community to donate bags of treats to their local animal shelter, and to post a picture of themselves making the donation on the Rescue 2 Restore Facebook page using the hashtags #Treats2Restore and #MLKDay.

During the planning session for this project, the youth were given information on the grant, on the importance of community responsibility, on the perils of shelter animals, and the importance of using positive, reward (treat) based animal training. They also watched a video from the website to learn about honoring the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. through service. The students then spent the MLK holiday making homemade treats to be donated to the shelter local to their facility, the Macon-Bibb County Animal Shelter.

During each step of this project, the girls worked well as a team, mindfully listening to each other, talking about their ideas, considering and combining ideas with each other and willingly and openly accepting feedback. They also combined efforts to execute the making of their treats, with each girl stepping up to take responsibility in preparation, cooking and cleaning.

OCATS Director Lisa Casey Bryson supporting Treats 2 Restore and Rescue 2 Restore

The Rescue 2 Restore Team would like to ask that DJJ employees help the Macon RYDC youth increase the impact of Treats 2 Restore by donating a bag of treats to an Animal Shelter or Rescue local to their own community (or to the community in which their DJJ office is located). Employees are encouraged to take a picture of themselves making a donation and posting it on the Rescue2 Restore Facebook at . Please make sure to include the hashtags #Treats2Restore and #MLKDAY and include the state the city or county in which you made the donation. In doing so, the Macon RYDC can see just how far the impact of their marketing campaign traveled.

Thanks again to the youth of the Macon RYDC and the entire Rescue 2 Restore Team. To learn more about Rescue 2 Restore, visit them at .




     Focus on Education: DJJ Graduates DJJ Staff  at:  1/15/2016  

Focus on Education: DJJ Graduates

DJJ Graduates Senior Class of 2015
Commissioner Encourages More Grads in 2016

(ATLANTA – GA) Commissioner Avery D. Niles is proud to announce the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice closed out the 2015 school year with an inspiring education benchmark for the agency as combined senior class grads from DJJ secure facilities across the state gathered in Atlanta. The department’s fifth consolidated high school commencement ceremony was one of the largest DJJ graduation classes to date.

Forty-two Georgia Preparatory Academy graduates celebrated this latest landmark education event at the Atlanta Youth Development Campus in College Park in mid-December. Families, friends, and loved ones were there to witness this community recognition for youth who have distinguished themselves with hard work, perseverance and academic accomplishments.

Commissioner Niles personally awarded 34 GEDs, 4 high school diplomas & 1 transitional diploma, and 6 vocational Technical Certificates of Credit. Two resourceful students earned both a GED and a Technical Certificate of Credit, while another enterprising student earned two Technical Certificates of Credit.

“We want these young people to experience the exhilaration of personal success and accomplishment,” said DJJ Commissioner Niles. “It’s rewarding to witness the excitement of our students grow each year we conduct these commencement exercises for the Georgia Preparatory Academy,” the Commissioner said.

Georgia Preparatory Academy Associate Superintendent Dr. Audrey Armistad praised the success of the graduates: “We are so proud of their accomplishments,” Dr. Armistad said. “And our teachers support their academic achievement.”

Young men and women attended from six Georgia Youth Development Campuses (YDCs) in Atlanta, Augusta, Eastman, Macon, Muscogee, and Sumter; the Regional Youth Detention Center (RYDCs) in Gainesville; and the Intensive Treatment Unit (ITU) in Milledgeville. The combined group of graduating seniors filed into the auditorium to cross the Atlanta YDC stage together in their caps and gowns, then marched back to their seats transformed as the Georgia Preparatory Academy’s Graduating Class of 2015.

To earn their diplomas, these students are held to the same high standards as pupils in Georgia’s traditional state schools. The Georgia Preparatory Academy is a dually accredited state school district. Students receive 330 minutes of regular or special education inside DJJ’s security barriers every school day. Each curriculum taught here meets the same quality education standards prepared by the Georgia Department of Education.

“You should look at today’s graduation as a starting place for the next important goals you will accomplish in life,” said Dr. Armistad. The Associate Superintendent reminded students this ceremony was a unique opportunity for a celebration of their hard work, dedication and commitment in a juvenile justice setting. “You have managed to overcome many personal, family and social adversities that have challenged you,” Dr. Armistad said.

The Georgia Preparatory Academy was proud to have Bishop Wiley Jackson of the Gospel Tabernacle Cathedral as distinguished guest speaker to deliver a powerful message that a strong education can lead to both a calling and a bright future.

Commissioner Avery Niles told the graduates about his personal pride in the Class of 2015. “Every one of you here has the chance to start over and make the best of your life. At this point your success depends on realizing this is the time for you to make positive changes,” Niles said.

Commissioner Niles explained to parents that his goal is for each youth who leaves DJJ custody to climb a grade level or above where they ranked in school at the time they entered the Georgia juvenile justice system.

“Governor Deal and the First Lady say it takes a special kind of person to be a teacher,” Niles said. “Like the Governor, we have been impressed with the progress our students are making and by the dedication of their teachers, principals and staff.” The Commissioner said he looks forward to celebrating the next Georgia Preparatory Academy commencement in spring of 2016.

In a special presentation, Daniel Sovereign of the Milledgeville ITU was named 2016 Teacher of the Year with additional honors going to Syntria Holmes-Jackson of the Macon YDC and Dr. Vera Giddens of the Crisp RYDC. Special graduation guests included Department of Corrections Commissioner Homer Bryson, Technical College System Assistant Commissioner Dr. Kathryn R. Hornsby, and DJJ Board Member Dr. Thomas L. Coleman. The Department of Juvenile Justice SMRT Team delivered the Presentation of Colors and singer Tina Thames performed the National Anthem.

Photos of DJJ’s graduation ceremonies are posted on the agency’s “News & Views” webpage at

The Georgia Preparatory Academy is Georgia’s 181st School District and has dual accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and from the Correctional Educational Association (CEA). The mission of the Georgia Preparatory Academy is to provide a comprehensive educational program which will facilitate the successful integration of each student into the community and workplace.




     2016 DJJ Strategic Plan Update DJJ Staff  at:  1/15/2016  

2016 DJJ Strategic Plan Update

The 2016 Department of Juvenile Justice Strategic Plan Update is now available for viewing. The application of this update and 2015-2018 overall plan aligns DJJ Commissioner Avery Niles priorities with Governor Nathan Deal's vision to continue the juvenile justice reform process.

Download the latest version of the 2016 DJJ Strategic Plan at:




     2016 SCCP Coin Wars Grand Champion DJJ Staff  at:  1/13/2016  

2016 SCCP Coin Wars Grand Champion

As part of the 2015-2016 State Charitable Contributions Campaign, the Department of Juvenile Justice brought the noise...the noise of donated change and coins for the most friendly competition of the year....COIN WARS! By feeding specially grown COIN MINIONS with their spare change, employees of DJJ competed around the state to see who had the most "metal" when it comes to helping Georgia's charities. The Coin Wars are now over but to the victors goes the spoils of praise and glory. Below is the final thanks from the mysterious Minion Captain. To learn more about the State Charitable Contributions Campaign, visit

BEEEDO! BEEEDO! BEEEDO! Oh me weary Coin Warriors, we have TRIUMPHED in our quest to surpass the 2015 SCCP Coin Wars Campaign! Absolutely unbelievable the coinage and companionable competition that me minion warriors have created and waged a’gin each other. Beeedo! A quick look at week twelve showed a considerable lag as me warriors were running low on steam it seems: Central’s Kevin, 3rd FL, was the big producer this week with $60.98; next was Community Carl with $24.04; Secured Facilities SteVe visited the Milledgeville ITU and brought home $18.00; while Infected Bob, 2nd FL, had at least $.54; Central’s Stuart, 4th FL, and Dave, 1st FL, hadn’t been fed anything. That brought our total to $2,638.51 – oooh do I dare, hope we’ll break $3,000.00 dollars?!?!?! Don’t panic, there were adjustments made for donations pledged but never received and Administrative costs. These adjustments are highlighted in yellow.

BEEEDO! BEEEDO! Slow down me quavering heart, or is that the drummmmmmmroooooolllllll of SUcCEss – it’s hard to tell sometimes. But me MIGHTY MINION COIN WARRIORS we have surpassed $3,000.00. Between Community Carl, Secured Facilities SteVe, Jerry from the 5th Floor and Central Office’s Stuart, Kevin, Infected Bob and Dave a GRAND COINAGE of $3,361.92 was raised for the 2016 SCCP. WHHHOOOOOHOOOOOO! BEEEDO! BEEEEDO! BEEEEDO! That’s over 400% better than the 2015 Campaign Grand Coinage of $825.06!!! (And let it be known that Secured Facilities SteVe is still M.M.I.A. – Minion Missing In Action!) Community Carl’s District 7 produced $336.00 by visiting EVERY county in their district! District 4’s Carroll County and Spalding County contributed $80.00. Then Jerry from the 5th FL had been visiting the Marietta RYDC and came home with $32.70; while Elbert Shaw sent in $91.00 and Sandersville raised $170.50. Central’s Infected Bob, 2nd FL, managed to produce $5.68, Kevin, 3rd FL, had $1.85 and a’gin Stuart, 4th FL, and Dave, 1st FL, had naught but air. This final week will send us to slumber on a weekly total of $717.73.

Now to announce the SCCP 2016 Coin Wars Grand Champion: Community Carl, who raised $1,206.11. The Minion Captain has a small trophy that MUST be PROUDLY DISPLAYED in Mr. Joe Vignati’s office this year. The trophy was presented to Mr. Joe Vignati on Friday, 1/8. He said he would bring it and boy howdy did he!

Kevin, 3rd FL, won the Commissioner’s Central Office Challenge – earning the 3rd Floor warriors 2 Friday Jeans Passes.

Be Proud me mighty Coin Warriors and Rest Ye Weary Heads until the 2017 SCCP Campaign.

Don’t forget what me friend the Commissioner always says: ONE TEAM. ONE MISSION. And THANK YOU DJJ for being One in a Minion……………

Assistant Deputy Commissioner Diana Aspinwall, 2016 SCCP Chair CFO Sonja Allen-Smith, Deputy Commissioner Joe Vignati, Assistant Deputy Commissioner Theo Carter, 2016 SCCP Coordinator Alline Wade-Simon with Coin Wars Coordinator Catherine Ice




     RECENT SIGHTING: Governor Deal at DJJ DJJ Staff  at:  1/13/2016  


‘RECENT SIGHTING’: Governor Nathan Deal was recently seen touring improvements at this Georgia juvenile justice facility escorted by DJJ Commissioner Avery D. Niles and Associate School Superintendent Audrey Armistad.

Improving the quality of education in Georgia and increasing the state’s graduation rate are among Governor Deal’s highest priorities in office.

Implementing Juvenile Justice Reforms also top his list.

The Governor is seen here discussing both topics with Commissioner Niles and Superintendent Armistad to improve the chances for rehabilitation and reentry to help change future prospects for former juvenile offenders in Georgia.

The picture is currently number two in the photo-rotation on the Governor’s Office website at




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