DJJ Commissioner Announces Agency Restructuring and Promotions DJJ Staff  at:  6/29/2012  

DJJ Commissioner Announces Agency Restructuring and Promotions

Effective July 1st, 2012, Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice Commissioner L. Gale Buckner announces plans for an overhaul of the organizational structure of DJJ’s Central Office in Decatur. This week the Commissioner informed DJJ Staff statewide that the latest phase of her restructuring strategy creates a new management working model that more effectively and efficiently meets the agency’s needs to perform its special public safety mission for the State of Georgia.  

“These organizational changes will enable us to better focus on three primary target areas of juvenile justice responsibilities: safety and security, education and programming, and community services,” said Commissioner Buckner.

As part of the Central Office realignment, the Commissioner authorized two top level Executive Staff advancements. Commissioner Buckner is pleased to announce the promotion of DJJ Director of Investigations Sarah Draper, to the newly created position of Deputy Commissioner over Secure Facilities.

Commissioner Buckner is also pleased to announce the promotion of DJJ Behavioral Health Services Director Miguel Fernandez, to the position of Assistant Deputy Commissioner of Programs and Education under Deputy Commissioner Richard Harrison.

Deputy Commissioner Richard Harrison will remain in his current position with management over DJJ Programs and Education.

Commissioner Buckner’s new management strategy will place accountability for safety and security of DJJ facilities under newly appointed Deputy Commissioner Sarah Draper.

Administration of DJJ Community Services will be focused under the direction of Deputy Commissioner Carl Brown. This adjustment is designed for the agency to place more focus on the tasks of Placements, Field Operations and Case Expediters in the new DJJ Division of Community Services.

Before this change in the DJJ organizational chart, the duties for both Secure Facilities and Community Services were all stacked under the responsibility of one Deputy Commissioner. With these reassignments, realignments and promotions, Commissioner Buckner has redefined major responsibilities between Deputy Commissioners.

The Commissioner said many of her organizational changes at the management level were based on observations she made while troubleshooting agency challenges during her first seven months in office. 

“These are more of the system-wide adjustments I indicated would occur at the Department of Juvenile Justice as part of the fine-tuning process,” said Commissioner Buckner.  “I began with a task force for unscheduled inspections of all DJJ secure facilities and court service offices.  We continue to make return visits and update old policies.. And we’ll continue to tweak the agency org-charts where we find ways to make this system run smoother.”

Promoted to Deputy Commissioner this week, Sarah Draper has worked for the Department of Juvenile Justice since June of 2011. She came to DJJ from the Georgia Department of Corrections where she worked investigative management assignments, including Assistant Unit Manager, Deputy Director, and Director. From 1995 through 2011, Draper held DOC investigative unit management positions ranging from Special Investigations, Inmate Affairs and Appeals, Internal Investigations, and the Office of Investigations and Compliance.

Deputy Commissioner Draper has a Masters of Public Administration from Columbus State University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from North Georgia College.  She graduated Georgia Law Enforcement Command College and attended the Corrections Leadership Institute at the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, University of Georgia.  She is a member of the Peace Officers Association of Georgia, the Georgia Gang Investigators Association, the Georgia Internal Affairs Investigators Association, and the national Association of Women Executives in Corrections.

DJJ’s newly appointed Assistant Deputy Commissioner, Miguel Fernandez has worked with this agency since 2004 when he was hired as the Assistant Director of the Office of Behavioral Health Services. Before coming to DJJ, Mr. Fernandez was state Director of Georgia’s Residential Substance Abuse Treatment programs.  He had previous DJJ experience as a Mental Health Coordinator at the Macon YDC in 2001.

He began his mental health and case management work in 1990 in a crisis stabilization unit in Tallahassee, FL, while working on his Master’s degree.  From 1993 to 1998 he worked at the Adult Psychiatry and Alcohol and Drug Detoxification Units of the Miami VA Medical Center. In 1999, Mr. Fernandez began working with children and adolescents as a mental health and substance abuse clinician at Hillside Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia.

He received his Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Florida State University in 1990 and his Master’s in Social Work from the FSU School of Social Work in 1993.  Mr. Fernandez became a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in 1995 in the State of Florida and again in the State of Georgia in 1998.  He became a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor in the year 2000.

Commissioner Buckner congratulated DJJ’s newest Deputy Commissioner Draper and Assistant Deputy Commissioner Fernandez and challenged them to help the agency achieve its mission to protect and serve the citizens of Georgia while assisting young offenders in becoming productive and law-abiding citizens.




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