Only the Eastman YDC surpassed Augusta in those categories among Georgia’s 26 DJJ facilities.
The facility on Mike Padgett Highway has been under scrutiny since Nov. 7 when 19-year-old Jade Holder, of Sylvester, Ga., was injured in his one-man cell in Unit 43 and died the following afternoon at Medical College of Georgia Hospital after being pronounced brain dead.
A youth at the facility -- Michael Jarod Everidge, 17, of Augusta -- was charged Nov. 10 with murder in connection with the death. Marlon McCreary Sr., a guard at the facility, was fired the same day, cited for a “failure to lock the doors to the rooms of the resident in Unit 43.”
“As a result of your conduct, residents were allowed to enter and exit the rooms of other residents at will and fatally assault a youth under the care and custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice,” according to McCreary’s termination letter, obtained by The Augusta Chronicle.
McCreary had been hired in July, his second stint at the facility, after being fired in 2008.
According to personnel records, he was terminated then after “refusal to accept (his) assigned post... and the unprofessional conduct (he) displayed when discussing the issue.”
In an appeal in 2008, McCreary explained he was trying to follow procedures when he did not accept his post because he did not have a radio to complete his duties.
Personnel records provided the newspaper included messages that fellow employees thought he had matured and could handle the job.
Heather Gates, another security employee, was suspended with pay Nov. 9 due to possible employee misconduct, according to department records. Capt. Victor Martin was also suspended with pay for possible employee misconduct the following day.
The Department of Juvenile Justice did not clarify if their suspensions were related to the incident in Unit 43.
Gov. Nathan Deal did announce Friday a leadership change at the Augusta YDC. According to a statement from the Governor’s Office, Gary Jones, chief of police in Sardis, Ga., will begin a special three-month assignment leading the facility on Monday.
Few details were provided about the assignment, except that Jones will report directly to Commissioner L. Gale Buckner, of the Department of Juvenile Justice. Jones would not discuss the new position with a reporter on Friday.
Buckner, who was appointed commissioner the same day as Holder’s death, was not in her office Friday to answer questions about the Augusta situation, according to her staff.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation would also not discuss the case, citing the ongoing investigation into Holder’s death.