Juvenile Justice Citizens’ Academy coming to Macon

Nearly two dozen people will soon get a rare look inside Georgia’s Department of Juvenile Justice.

Twenty applicants will be selected for a five-week course explaining how the state cares for its young offenders and the more than 50,000 youths served annually.

The DJJ Citizens’ Academy was created to help teach concerned citizens -- especially those who work with youths, law enforcement or other community leaders -- about new reforms in Georgia juvenile justice.

The first one was held last fall in the Atlanta area.

Commissioner Avery D. Niles said meaningful changes have already reduced youth offender populations and recidivism rates, according to a department release.

“DJJ has a core belief in transparent government, and we support the governor’s vision for a safer and better-educated Georgia,” Niles said. “Our second Citizens’ Academy will provide a select panel of members in Macon with a 360-degree scope of enhanced juvenile corrections practices.”

Selected participants will receive an agency overview and meet the department’s executive leadership in a series of workshops from 6-9 p.m. that begin April 23 and continue till May 21. The classes will be held around Bibb County, but locations are still being determined.

Visits are expected to be scheduled at Youth Development Campuses, court services offices and local courts.

Niles said the academy provides additional transparency in government by allowing people to see the inner workings of the department.

The curriculum covers topics such as secure confinement, community supervision and the education of young offenders.

“Our second Citizens’ Academy will provide an opportunity to see and experience DJJ’s commitment to young offenders and their families, to enhanced juvenile re-entry programs, and to DJJ’s non-negotiable mission to promote safer communities for all Georgians by holding juvenile offenders accountable,” Niles said.

Because space is limited, an application process that includes criminal history and background clearances will help determine eligibility for the program.

The department is developing a statewide schedule for future Citizens’ Academies, too.

For more information about the academy, visit www.djjnewsandviews.org.

To contact writer Liz Fabian, call 744-4303.