Wilkes County newest detention center focuses on rehabilitating troubled juveniles

Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017
(News 12 at 6 o’clock/NBC 26 News at 7)

Across the state of Georgia juveniles who commit crimes end up at a place like this even before sentencing.

“It's regional, meaning that it's not a permanent location for kids to serve their particular commitment time,” Avery D. Niles, Department of Juvenile Justice Commissioner said.

Sitting on what used to be a prerelease center in Wilkes County is our area's newest regional youth detention center.

“Our old facilities were designed to be hardened correctional facilities,” Sean Hamilton, Deputy Commissioner said.

But they hope this building allows them to focus more on rehabilitation and education. This facility shows that-- with classrooms soon filled with technology. Having this facility here also means impact for juvenile judges like James Jones, who serves six counties in our area.

“Most of the children that came through my court ended up at some time or another in either Augusta or Sandersville,” James T. Jones, Juvenile Judge Toombs Judicial Circuit said.

This YDC replaces the one in Sandersville making it closer to juvenile’s families and schools. This is the second regional YDC serving our area with 48 beds for 40 males and 8 females. The other in Richmond County holds sixty-four male juveniles.

“The effort is really all around rehabilitation because we realize that the vast majority of young people who come through our system will at some point be released and they will go back into the community,” Deputy Hamilton said.

The big picture--this detention center will give judges more options on the bench. It could be the difference between a DJJ case and a kid who committed a delinquent act and ultimately mean getting kids closer to home.

“The permanent place is in the kid's home this is just a temporary setback for or set up for a comeback,” Judge Jones said.
The juvenile court judge says the more resources you can offer to kids the better, the less likely they are to re-offend.

The facility is opening next month.