Augusta YDC director resigns amid suspension, former interim director weighs in

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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News 12 at 11 o'clock / Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The more things change, the more they remain the same at the Augusta Youth Development Campus.

Six months after he took over, the man in charge has called it quits. Meanwhile, another former director is talking to News 12 about how bad things really are.

Gary Jones passed the torch to Ron Brawner. He says Brawner vowed to keep up the discipline when Jones handed over the position.

In a news conference back in March, Brawner said, "Being in leadership, there's nothing you potentially start with, you just look at what you have and form the strategic objectives to move forward."

Brawner was talking about leadership on his first day at it. Fast forward six months, "Augusta YDC Ronald Brawner has been placed on disciplinary suspension," said Department of Juvenile Justice Spokesman Jim Shuler last Friday.

Much different news following the escape of five inmates earlier this month.

"It was obvious that the youth were running the facility from the moment that I walked in there," said former YDC Interim Director Jones.

He was named interim director just after the last director was fired following a murder at the facility. Jones will tell you when he got there he saw everything from contraband to, "the guards were having sex with the youth there and so forth."

He took over and cleaned house so when it was Brawner's turn, "I do know when he took over from my position that me and him talked and he vowed that he would move forward in some of the same areas and initiate some of the same disciplinary measures and that's all I could hope for," Jones said.

After five inmates escaped nearly two weeks ago, some would question those disciplinary measures.

"I have no idea whether that resignation was voluntary or in lieu of termination, and I don't even want to speculate," Jones said.

In the news conference back in March, Brawner said, "You have to step up to the plate and take the challenges, take it in small chunks, small pieces."

Almost a year since the murder blew the lid off, leadership at the Augusta YDC is back to square one.

It's Assistant Director Melvin Womble who'll be taking over now. He was also hired in March. He, too, is on probation following those escapes.

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