March 20, 2013 — Allegations of wrongdoing in the state’s juvenile prisons could be sealed from public view under a bill considered today by a House subcommittee. Witnesses for the state Department of Juvenile Justice said the bill was intended to protect children in custody from retaliation for reporting gang or other criminal activity. The current version of the bill, though, makes no mention of gangs or juvenile crime. Rather, it would exempt from disclosure “the information provided by children who report abuses or wrongdoing in the juvenile justice system.”
State officials have cleared three guards of accusations that they incited violence among girls held at a Rome juvenile detention facility. One of the guards was fired, though, for failing to prevent a Dec. 7 attack, and the other two were disciplined for unrelated policy violations. Some girls in the facility said they believed guards were complicit in some violence, but officials said the guards passed polygraph exams and “the totality of witness statements and information” did not support the charges.
Haley Bonds says she did everything she could think of to protect her 16-year-old daughter from the beatdown she was expecting at a youth jail in Northwest Georgia. Yet, just 20 minutes after a supervisor assured her Whitney Bonds would be safe, another officer called Haley
to say her daughter was “bleeding out” and being rushed to the emergency room. Two months later, Whitney says guards at the Rome RYDC used bribes of food to set one youth against another. “It’s like they’re dogfighting these kids,” her mother said.