First on 12: DJJ fires Augusta YDC director, hires four at state level

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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AUGUSTA, Ga. -- News 12 has confirmed that Augusta Youth Development Campus Director John Brady was fired Monday.

"Yes, his employment was terminated," said Department of Juvenile Justice Director of Communications Emily Gest in an email.

News 12 received an internal email last week with the details of an investigative interview that was scheduled with Jade Holder, the 19-year-old inmate who was beaten to death in November. It was sent to Brady the week before the beating from senior Department of Juvenile Justice investigator Benson Styles.

That next Thursday, Nov. 10, at 9:30 a.m., the meeting never happened because Holder was already dead.

Minutes from a DJJ Board Meeting April 28, 2011, include the following excerpts:
"John Brady was a long-term director at the Augusta YDC, came out of retirement to help DJJ move things back where they need to be ... Commissioner Howell said John Brady will reinstate some of the strong leadership that is needed from the directors. She stated there were some challenges and weaknesses in staffing and leadership that the youth took advantage of and resented. She is very thankful John Brady can be there for DJJ ... as they try to reestablish order and get staffing where it needs to be."

News 12 has requested more specific information about the cause of Brady's termination and will continue to keep you updated.

This termination comes as a new man takes charge of Augusta's YDC. Sardis Police Chief Gary Jones will be the liaison to DJJ Commissioner Gale Buckner for the next 90 days. His first day was Monday. During his time in Sardis, Jones and his team helped reduce crime in Sardis at least 60 percent since April. People who live and work in the city say they feel safer now than they have in years.

In addition, Buckner appointed four new people to join their team Monday. She says they all have extensive experience to help them "aid troubled youth."

In a press release, Buckner says Shawanda Reynolds-Cobb will become deputy commissioner of Administrative Services, Tracy D. Masters will become director of Legal Services, Carol Jackson will become director of Legislative Affairs and Diane Avery will become the board and constituent liaison.

Current DJJ Deputy Commissioner Jeff Minor has been promoted to assistant commissioner, where he will function as a second-in-command of the agency and will continue to oversee the Offices of Budget Services and Human Resources. Minor joined DJJ in 2001 and is a 32-year veteran of state government, having worked at the Department of Human Resources and the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget.

“Shawanda, Carol, Tracy, Diane and Jeff have extensive and valuable experience in a variety of areas that will serve the department well," Buckner said. "I look forward to utilizing their talents and skills as we face challenges and enhance DJJ all while helping the troubled youth we serve and ensuring public safety in our communities and facilities.”

To read more on News 12's investigation into the Augusta YDC, visit our Web page here.