The latest YDC firing as part of a continuing state investigation came Thursday, but it was in Columbus, not Augusta.
Juvenile Corrections Officer Mike Brown was terminated from the Aaron Cohn Regional Youth Detention Center based on misconduct policy violations for improper use of physical intervention techniques, Department of Juvenile Justice Commissioner Gale Buckner announced in a news release Thursday evening.
Brown was also cited for failure to accurately document the incident, which was first reported as a sports-related injury on a basketball court. As a result of the incident, a Columbus YDC resident was treated at a hospital and released, the release says.
The termination is the latest personnel action in the commissioner’s continuing crackdown on staff misconduct, security breaches and policy violations at DJJ secure facilities statewide. Immediately after her appointment in November, Buckner assembled safety and security teams to launch unannounced facility inspections and investigations. The teams began their work at the Augusta Youth Development Campus following the November beating death of 19-year-old Jade Holder.
Eight employees, including Director John Brady and several corrections officers, have been fired since November. One has resigned, another has said he will resign and two were demoted.
The investigations into the Augusta YDC have stemmed not only from the death of Holder, but also allegations of sexual misconduct and physical abuse by corrections officers, as well as corrections officers helping with smuggling contraband, including cellphones, to residents.
The DJJ special inspection teams have examined 26 DJJ secure facilities throughout the state in seven weeks. Some facilities, including Augusta YDC, have been the target of repeat inspections.
“Through surprise inspections and staff interviews we have uncovered violations of policy and contraband and misconduct repeated at other facilities and we’re wasting no time taking these administrative actions wherever they’re needed,” Buckner said in the release. “As we expected, our statewide security sweeps and facility inspections have already had a positive impact, improving conditions at our secure campuses across Georgia.”
Buckner predicted more violations to come to light as the investigations continue. She promised that DJJ will respond with more terminations, suspensions and other disciplinary measures in cases of misconduct, or follow-up with restaffing, retraining and refresher courses where needed.
“We’re taking immediate steps to fix those DJJ problems we can control now and the Department continues to fast-track administrative and corrective actions wherever state investigators find our corrections staff have committed misconduct or violated any safety and security policies,” Buckner said.