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YDC case reveals ongoing trouble

Saturday, Oct. 20, 2012 8:25 PM
Last updated Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012 11:01 PM
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Friday’s sentencing of Michael Everidge to 17 years in prison should have closed 11 turbulent months at Augusta’s Youth Development Campus, but it didn’t.

Just hours after Everidge’s day in court, five YDC residents escaped the local facility. Three were captured after a police chase involving a stolen car. One was caught Saturday.

It was another bad day in what has been a bad year at the Augusta YDC. The situation became public after a Nov. 7 fight between residents proved fatal.

Everidge, now 18, was charged with murder after the fight at the YDC campus that left 19-year-old Jade Holder dead and lifted the lid on a culture of violence, sexual assault and bullying at Augusta’s YDC.

In the wake of Everidge’s indictment, 11 employees resigned or were fired or demoted, including the center’s director.

It started when two youths locked up in Unit 43 bumped shoulders and challenged each other to a fight.

There was no backing down. Anyone who refused to fight risked harassment and physical violence from the other inmates, Assistant District Attorney Keith Johnson said Friday before Everidge pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter.

On that night, Everidge and Holder exchanged words and decided to fight in Holder’s cell. According to witness accounts of the fight, Holder was winning when he threw up his arms to signal that the fight was over. Everidge grabbed Holder and threw him to the ground, causing Holder to hit his head on the concrete floor. As Holder lay on the floor, Everidge hit him three times and kicked him. Blood was spattered across the room, and Holder’s breathing was labored. Bystanders intervened and said Everidge had gone too far, according to Johnson.

The only guard, Marlon McCreary, spent the next 20 minutes rounding up the youths in the unit before calling for emergency assistance, and it was another 20 minutes before medical workers arrived. By the time Holder was admitted to Medical College of Georgia Hospital, more than an hour had passed, said Everidge’s attorney, Katrell Nash. He died of head injuries and liver damage from lack of oxygen.

On Friday, Johnson urged Superior Court Judge Daniel Craig to impose the maximum period of incarceration. Send a strong, unfiltered message to other youths that such behavior is unacceptable, Johnson said.

Young people are sent to the YDC to be rehabilitated: “We don’t send them to die,” Johnson said.

Nash said that her client accepted responsibility for his actions but that the blame must also fall on the YDC’s staff. Everidge held gold card privileges, including a later bed time of 10 p.m. Holder, as a blue card holder, should have been locked up at 9 p.m. but wasn’t. McCreary, the guard responsible for allowing the blue card inmates to wander Unit 43, was fired Nov. 10 for neglecting to lock the doors.

“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,” McCreary’s termination letter said.

“(Everidge) did not intend for this to happen; it was not a malicious act on his part,” Nash contended, saying he was in a “culture and environment that nurtured fighting and fending for yourself.”

Immediately after the incident, YDC Director John Brady and McCreary were fired.

As the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and other agencies looked into the facility, three more employees were fired and two others were demoted or transferred. Investigations revealed sexual misconduct, physical abuse and contraband smuggling by guards.

In August, the state established a confidential tip line to help curb abuse at Augusta’s YDC and others across the state.

“This has been a difficult time for everyone involved,” Juvenile Justice spokesman Jim Shuler said Friday. He thanked the GBI and the district attorney’s office for their efforts and said his agency had no further comment.

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OpenCurtain 10/20/12 - 09:24 pm
Worked RYDC in the late 70's

We never had these types of problems.
We used Old school jail rules.
Treat everyone the same (criminals) and striped them, shower, issue cloths, lock them in isolation for 48 hours.

Tullie 10/21/12 - 04:32 am
Youth Development Campus

Going to have trouble as long you let these boys wander around unattended.

How dumb is that? They are just asking for trouble. This place is not a college campus for crying out loud. These kids/adults have been sent there for a reason..not a good one.

As OpenCurtain said and someone else said yesterday, this should be run as a detention center not a school campus. They are not developing anything but more trouble.

single parent
single parent 10/21/12 - 02:15 pm
Not the Issue!

It started when two youths locked up in Unit 43 bumped shoulders and challenged each other to a fight.
This is why? Ok, with that being said we will over look this kind of behavior and why this happened. The issue is "YOU ARE LOCKED UP FOR A CRIME(S)!" You are not there because you are all nice and fuzzy! The worst part of it all is these darn "EXPERTS" that call them youths or children. Believe me these youths/chidren are more advanced than the average nuclear worker and know exactly how to manipulate the system. I have talked to many of them and worked in this type area and I can tell you the "EXPERTS" know nothing. For some reason they feel because you are under 21, you have this super ability to get away with things or not responsible for your actions. These kids have internet, play stations, big flat screens and the communication that allows them to get away with things are ridiculous! We as a society let a few mishaps affect the entire outcome of the correct way to get results IE allowing a child to call 911 for getting the strap laid on them for breaking the kids jaw next door. REALLY? There is zero fear of the outcome these days, because there is none! Again these "EXPERTS" think these kids are all warm and fuzzy!
By the way did I mention the larger percent of the youths at YDC are "MENTAL CASES?" They stick 5'3" 120 pound women in isolation situations with 200+ pound violent offenders?
Bottom line is you "ARE NOT THERE FOR RECREATION" and complain about your rights and how cute and cuddly you are! Then when something happens, now the parents want to step in and tell everyone how their "BABY" is all nice ! The staff is in ridiculous dangerous situations at all times, which I do not mind saying makes you just say the heck with it and just do what you must and collect your check. Why should you care if the so called "EXPERTS" do not?
Hey its the truth!

christyanne76 10/21/12 - 11:06 pm

@single parent... you're right for the most part. However, there are some parents who see their kids doing some petty things that can lead to something worse and THEY request the juvenile court to intervene because they have run out of options. Then while their child is incarcerated at a Georgia YDC, they are beaten by 4 or 5 people in a classroom with a teacher IN the room. For half an hour on video...the teacher never calls for help nor does she even take the time to look up at what's happening. You find out by walking into the visitation room 130 miles away on a saturday and see your child with two massive black eyes, a busted pus running ear drum and a swollen face and head. then you're informed that they will press charges...the following monday. That two of the "kids" that attacked your non violent ever child is 19 and 20 years old. THEN your child informs you that they are locked in isolation for refusing to tell who did it (although it's all on video and he's scared to tell anything) When you ask about medical you're told that your child is, and I quote, "Skrate. He had an xscray". To add insult to injury it's post two months and no charges filed on the "youths" and they remain incarcerated with your child. Not to mention two or three more children have been beaten by these individuals one with a nose broken in two places. So yeah, I can sympathize. And I don't necessarily blame the guards. In Jade's case...maybe. But from what i understand from the ones in Milan, Georgia it's the administration. I'm told my child is polite and respectful and causes no problems and that they hate it's happened to him and they'll watch out for him. and most of them i believe.(guards) But that b.s. tip line they juvenile department of corrections says they have...i've reported it there AND by calling them...not even a return call. So I suppose if they have to carry my 16 year old son out in a body bag...then someone may call. Until then they'll sweep it under that massive rug of theirs and carry on business as usual.

Gigglegal215 10/22/12 - 08:34 am
What can be done?

At first I blamed the staff then I began thinking about all the budget cuts. I pray for for the staff and the juveniles al the time.

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