The Department of Juvenile Justice fired three more employees and demoted and transferred two others at the Augusta Youth Development Center on Friday as the fallout continues from last month’s death of an inmate at the facility.
The director of communications for DJJ, Emily Gest, said that two juvenile correction officers and one counselor were let go, and two assistant directors were demoted and transferred. Last month, Director John Brady and Marlon McCreary Sr., a guard at the facility, were fired. Two others, Capt. Victor Martin and Heather Gates, a security employee, remain on suspension, Gest said.
DJJ Commissioner Gale Buckner said Friday’s decisions were made because the employees either admitted to violating policy and procedures, or the violation became apparent during an investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation into the death of Jade Holder.
Holder, 19, was beaten in his cell Nov. 7 and died the next day. Michael Jarod Everidge, 17, was charged with the crime.
On Dec. 5, the GBI was called in to investigate a sexual assault of a 14-year-old by a 17-year-old. Devin Scott Ardoin was arrested in connection with this investigation.
A press release from Buckner said the employees were fired because their violations “compromised the safety and security of the institution and, in effect, compromised the staff’s ability to objectively and safely supervise youth.”
Buckner said two assistant directors were demoted and transferred instead of being fired because “their violations did not rise to the level for termination, but I did not have confidence in their current supervisory positions.”
As the investigation continues, Buckner said there might be more personnel changes.
“I am very pleased at the speed of the investigation,” she said. “We want no stone left unturned. We will not close it until we have resolved every issue that needs to be resolved.”
Buckner said there are 23 vacant positions at YDC and the agency is recruiting for those. They are also giving staff “refresher courses.”
The interim director, Gary Jones, is working out well, Buckner said, adding that Jones is working hard to “bring professionalism back to the staff.” She said they are searching for a permanent director and said she did not think Jones had applied for the job.
Buckner said the department wanted to make a statement with the personnel changes.