Former warden named new Augusta YDC director

A former state prison warden has been named new director of the troubled Augusta Youth Development Campus.

Cedric B. Taylor of Barnesville, Ga., will be the facility’s new director, Department of Juvenile Justice spokesman Jim Shuler said in a news release.

Taylor was most recently the warden at Valdosta (Ga.) State Close Security Prison, where he was responsible for 1,500 inmates and 300 employees.

Taylor joined the Georgia Department of Corrections in 1992, Shuler said. He started as a correctional officer at Hays State Maximum Security Prison, where he counseled inmates on rules and conducted inmate counts with “100 percent accuracy,” Shuler said.

Taylor was promoted to deputy warden of security at Hayes in 2007, managing and disciplining security officers, enforcing security procedures, and maintaining emergency drill training.

The release said Taylor became the Department of Corrections’ manager of special operations in 2009, overseeing its tactical squads, emergency response teams, hostage rescue teams and canine units and was responsible for special operations training. In 2010, he became warden of Georgia’s Autry State Prison.

He is the YDC’s fifth director since a youth was killed there by another inmate in November 2011. Troubles surfaced again last year, resulting in resignations and suspensions among top staff.

Former director Ronald Brawner resigned after five youths escaped in October. Then assistant-director Melvin Womble ran the facility until December, when he was suspended with pay pending a DJJ investigation. Details of the investigation have not been released, but the announcement was made after a Nov. 4 fight among five youths went unreported to the department’s central office for almost a month. A 17-year-old’s jaw was broken during the assault, but he was not transferred to a hospital for several days, Shuler said at a Dec. 12 press conference.

The department also announced Thursday that James L. Reid is the assistant director of security and Donnell Collins is the captain of corrections officers, as of December 31.

Reid and Collins, both of Augusta, have military backgrounds. Collins is a six-year Army veteran, who began working with the DJJ in January 2000, and Reid is a Marine Corps veteran from Augusta with more than 30 years of law enforcement experience, Shuler said.

DJJ Commissioner Avery Niles touted Taylor’s leadership ability to turn around the Augusta YDC.

“With his 20 years of experience across the spectrum of Georgia Corrections, Cedric Taylor can provide the new direction in integrity we need at Augusta YDC,” DJJ commissioner Avery Niles said in the release. “Taylor has a reputation for honesty and a firm and fair attitude for leadership.”

Shuler said Niles will introduce his new Augusta YDC management team at a news conference at the facility later this month.

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AUGUSTA YDC DIRECTORS SINCE DECEMBER 2011:

• John Brady was dismissed Dec. 5, 2011 during an investigation into the beating death of a teen resident.

• Sardis Police Chief Gary Jones was appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal to step in until a permanent replacement was hired.

• Ronald Brawner was hired in March by then-commissioner Gale Buckner. He submitted his resignation after five youths escaped the facility and stole a car at the end of October.

• Brawner’s assistant director, Melvin Womble, was named interim director after Brawner’s departure. He was suspended with pay and then dismissed in December.

• Cedric B. Taylor was announced as the new director Thursday.

– From staff reports

Topic Page: Augusta Youth Development Campus

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