More than six years ago, Georgia’s juvenile jails and prisons were so riddled with abuse that the U.S. Department of Justice demanded changes. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution says the state’s top juvenile justice official expects to declare Georgia in full compliance with federal mandates by year’s end. “It can be done right,” Commissioner Albert Murray said. “You can supervise a child in a correctional setting without being abusive and without being neglectful of his or her basic rights.” Georgia has satisfied all but 10 of the original 105 citations against it. One hurdle remaining is to satisfy a broad mandate to provide children with safe living conditions and protection from abuse in the state’s 21 youth jails and eight youth prisons.
Murray meets at least monthly with a Justice Department attorney to review progress. The department has put in place many policies and safeguards as it tries to meet federal demands. Last week, five specially trained employees, called “protection from harm specialists,” were sent to monitor three youth prisons and two jails. “We think that’s going to help to get us to where we need to be,” Murray said.