Only on 12: Prison insider exposes new problems at Augusta YDC

By: Lynnsey Gardner Email
By: Lynnsey Gardner Email
Richmond County YDC

Jade Holder, 19, died after being attacked in the Augusta Youth Development Campus. (WRDW-TV / Nov. 9, 2011)

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- This Monday tells a different story than last.

A deadly beating inside the Augusta Youth Development Campus's walls rocked the facility last week. This week's mood can be described by someone who works inside the facility in two words: "Dead quiet."

News 12 spoke with a man who says he's worked at the YDC for years. He says he's afraid what happened to 19-year-old inmate Jade Holder may happen again.

He wanted to hide his face and voice for fear of losing that job. But he's more afraid not speaking up may cost something greater.

"I would never want anyone to lose their job because every guard out there has a family," he said. "But, you can always find another job. You can't always find another son."

He says what started with state budget cuts has led to a lack of guards, training and structure at the facility.

"Dedicated guards have walked away," he said. "Now they are trying to fill slots with anybody who will work."

The structure of authority within the facility is something he's concerned about, too.

"For the most part, the youth dictate to the guards what they will or will not do," he said.

Just this year, News 12 has reported a riot inside YDC walls, juveniles escaping custody and now -- a murder. And just how many youths managed to get into Holder's cell and beat him is still not known.

So far, 17-year-old Michael Everidge is charged with Holder's murder.

The GBI has not ruled out more arrests.

Another question that remains unanswered: Where were the guards that night?

Our source tells us the facility is "very short-staffed," employees are "very overworked" and even possibly "under trained." He says many guards are pulling 15-to-20-hour shifts and some are not certified.

"That's why it's not surprising something like this happened," he said.

News 12 asked the Department of Juvenile Justice about these allegations. They declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation.

The worker says these safety concerns go both ways. He's worried not just about kid-on-kid crimes, but also the inmates possibly hurting a guard.

Another man, a prison pastor, who has also been inside, came forward only to News 12 with the same concerns.

"If they can't staff the facility, they need to shut it down," the pastor said.

But for now, the YDC is still open -- and still under the microscope.


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