News 12 at 11 o'clock / Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- He's a tough guy who has a record of fixing tough situations, and now he could be faced with his toughest job yet -- turning around the Augusta Youth Development Campus.
Department of Juvenile Justice Commissioner Avery Niles announced on Thursday that Cedric Taylor would fill the top spot at the troubled facility.
He comes to Augusta from Valdosta State Prison where he was warden.
News 12's Christie Ethridge spoke to co-workers in the prison there who say they're sad to see him go.
"I haven't seen anything here that I haven't thought that he hasn't handled exceptionally well, and this one isn't the easiest one to work with. We have some pretty bad inmates in here," said Valdosta State Prison Personnel Manager Cheryl Black.
High praise for Taylor, the man the Augusta YDC will now call director.
After coming in and improving the many problems at the Valdosta State Prison, the Augusta community can only hope for the same.
"He's very observant, and he really tries to see where problems are and how to correct those problems to benefit facilities," Black said.
Problems at the YDC started back in 2011 when News 12 sparked an investigation into the fatal assault of inmate Jade Holder.
Then, this past October, five inmates escaped the facility and stole a car.
But the problems didn't stop there.
Soon after, there was yet another investigation after another inmate was attacked and sent to the hospital.
So, it's no surprise Taylor's got a big job ahead.
But co-workers say after 20 years with the Department of Corrections and experience at other troubled prisons, he's no stranger to problems.
Some are even calling Taylor "a fixer."
"We had a lot of problems with inmates and people from outside throwing stuff over the fence, like cellphones and stuff like that, so he implemented, they put netting up and that's stopped a whole lot of our problems," Black said.
So after what seemed to be a constant flow of fights, escapes or scandals over the past year and a half, Taylor will have his hands full in Augusta, but Niles is confident Taylor's the right man for the job.
"With his 20 years of experience across this spectrum of Georgia Corrections, Cedric Taylor can provide new direction in integrity we need at Augusta YDC. He has a reputation for honesty and a firm and fair attitude for leadership," Niles said in a news release.
An interesting note: The Valdosta State Prison, where Taylor has been since August of 2012, has 1,500 inmates while the YDC holds only 120.
Taylor also worked as a correctional officer at the Hayes State Maximum Security Prison where he's noted for doing inmate checks with "100 percent accuracy."
He starts as YDC director on Feb. 1.