'Misplaced keys' put Augusta YDC on lockdown; 2 employees terminated, 2 suspended

Richmond County YDC
Jade Holder, 19, died after being attacked in the Augusta Youth Development Campus. (WRDW-TV / Nov. 9, 2011)
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Friday, Jan. 20, 2012

5:03 p.m.
DJJ Commissioner Gale Buckner revealed a surprising number of revelations about both the Augusta Youth Development Center and its employees during a news conference Friday evening.

She says the YDC is currently on lockdown due to "misplaced keys."

Buckner made a surprise visit with a handpicked team to the Augusta YDC Friday morning. They came to make sure the facility was following the correct policies and procedures.

She said a lot of progress has been made since her November and December visits.

Buckner confirmed interim YDC Director Gary Jones is still on a 90-day loan to the DJJ. Jones replaced former Director John Brady, who was fired in December.

Buckner discussed recent terminations and suspensions of the following employees:
-Juvenile Corrections Officer Edward Henderson: Fired after a misconduct policy violation involving a resident. Buckner would not go into further detail on this.
-Recreation Director Charles McGruder: Terminated for sexual misconduct involving a resident.
-Juvenile Corrections Counselor LaTonya Durden: Suspended with pay until the investigation is complete. She is suspected of bringing contraband inside the facility.
-Juvenile Corrections Officer Steven Whitaker: Suspended after being suspected of bringing contraband inside facility.

News 12 contacted the DJJ yesterday after receiving information about an overhaul in the last week -- they would not answer our inquiries until the news conference.

None of these terminations or suspensions were in connection to the fatal assault of 19-year-old Jade Holder at the facility in November.

However, Buckner did say every staff member is going through refresher training, including CPR, First Aid and and adolescent behavior training.

Buckner said the facility is currently hiring to fill the vacancies of terminated employees.

"I will not tolerate violations of policy and procedures, particularly those that support the safety and security of our institution," said Buckner in a news release.

Juvenile Corrections Officer Steven Whittaker is also suspended after contraband allegations.

4:49 p.m.
So far, Buckner has mentioned two terminations and two suspensions.

Recreational Director Charles McGruder has been terminated.

Juvenile Corrections Counselor LaTonya Durden has been suspended.

4:44 p.m.
The news conference is just about to start.

press conference

2:45 p.m.
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The DJJ commissioner is releasing a statement about personnel matters at the Augusta Youth Development Campus.

Department of Juvenile Justice Commissioner L. Gale Buckner said she completed a surprise inspection at the facility Friday.

The news conference is being held at the Augusta Youth Development Campus on Mike Padgett Highway.

News 12 has a crew at the news conference and will keep you updated.