Running the asylum

Amid YDC scandal, biggest crime could be system's dysfunction

It sure sounds as if some criminal charges – rather than severance packages – ought to be forthcoming in the roiling scandal at Augusta “Youth Development Campus,” a sugary-sounding euphemism for the local juvenile lockup.


One female employee was fired for an inappropriate relationship with one of the juveniles in custody, which continued even after his release. Another was fired for not reporting contraband, and another for not seizing it. Two were given new jobs elsewhere in the system for poor leadership.

Yet, remarkably, the terminated employees are getting severance packages for accrued annual leave and such. Good grief.

Aren’t some of these allegations considered crimes? If not, we might have more work for lawmakers in January.

The biggest crime, however, may be the YDC itself.

Or maybe the entire juvenile justice system.

You have to wonder why we even have one to begin with anymore, at least where it concerns munchkin thugs. What’s the point of it in this day and age? To treat juvenile offenders more tenderly? Are you kidding? Have you seen what these little darlings are doing these days? And how they comport themselves in custody? Have juvenile lockups, certainly; we can’t put them in adult prisons. But enough with the kid gloves!

But as long as you’re going to have a juvenile justice system, shouldn’t it at least operate at a minimally adequate level – say, one that is considered safe?

The current scandal at YDC – sparked by the November beating death of 19-year-old inmate Jade Holder – is just the latest eruption of a molten flow over there. When you’re firing five people for gross violations of basic conduct, including “loss of confidence in your leadership abilities,” then it’s safe to assume the meltdown has yet to be contained. There’s a much larger problem leaking radiation in the air – a culture that seems to cry out for all the measures taken at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

A few years ago there was a move to privatize such facilities in Georgia. No, we were told. Only the state government can do this right. Really? How’s that working out for you?

We’re reminded of Dan Aykroyd’s line from the movie Ghostbusters: “I’ve worked in the private sector. They expect

“It’s the antithesis of logical thought,” one source told us about the operation of the YDC. “The typical inmate has demonstrated contempt for authority and societal order for years – by his gratuitous abuse of siblings, parents, classmates and neighbors, and his almost-inhuman disrespect for teachers, counselors, police officers and juvenile probation officers. Without any remaining options, society places him in a secure campus. But then, incredibly, that same society forbids the custodians (guards) to touch the miscreants for purposes of discipline. Immediately, the inmate realizes he controls the relationship between himself and the custodian.”

Ultimately, our source says, the inmates end up running the asylum:

“Add in the fact that the pay for guards is worse than lousy – so bad that it is a huge challenge to attract employees who are not vulnerable to the maelstrom of repugnant conduct, or unable to effectively advise, counsel or motivate inmates to make good decisions. There are cell phones everywhere among the inmate population (a serious breach of security). The most dangerous inmates extort money from the more vulnerable ones. And guards willingly oblige, as in ‘getting a cut,’ when asked –
ordered – by inmates to serve as the middle man for the transfer of money.”

“It’s always been a major problem,” another source said, confirming everything the other source told us. “This isn’t something that started last month. The thugs have run that place for years.”

The second source also blamed employee guidelines set by the state.

Of course, you can expect the state to say, “Hey, we got this!”

All evidence to the contrary.



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