Originally created 05/07/99

Director to head agency



ATLANTA -- It will be up to Orlando Martinez, a consultant on juvenile justice issues, to finish the reforms at the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice begun under Eugene Walker.

Mr. Martinez was sworn in by Gov. Roy Barnes on Thursday as the state's new juvenile justice commissioner moments after Mr. Walker took the oath as the newest member of Georgia's Board of Pardons and Paroles.

"Orlando Martinez is recognized as one of the outstanding nationwide authorities in juvenile justice," Mr. Barnes said during a ceremony at the Capitol. "We're glad to have his services."

The changeover at the DJJ is one of several the governor has made in recent weeks among the top criminal justice and law enforcement officials in his administration.

Mr. Barnes also has replaced controversial former Corrections Commissioner Wayne Garner with Jim Wetherington, a longtime police chief in Columbus, and nominated Robert Hightower, head of the Cobb County Police Department, to succeed Sid Miles as state patrol commander.

Before becoming a consultant in the Atlanta area in 1992, Mr. Martinez spent 16 years as director of Colorado's Division of Youth Services. He still is serving as a consultant to the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, which also is making changes in its juvenile justice system.

Mr. Martinez believes both experiences should help him in his new job, where he must carry out improvements under a memorandum of agreement the DJJ reached with the U.S. Justice Department.

"Every situation brings some new issues, but ... I think I've learned a few things over the years," he said.

The state has agreed to spend $65 million during the next three years to improve health care, mental health treatment and education provided by juvenile justice facilities.

Mr. Martinez' salary will be about $108,000 a year.

Dave Williams is based in Atlanta and can be reached at (404) 589-8424 or mnews@mindspring.com.