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.
They are runaways, truants, curfew violators, underage smokers and drinkers. They’re called status offenders because their actions are only an issue due to their status as juveniles; if an adult did the same thing, it wouldn’t be a crime. Now, a report commissioned by the Governor’s Office for Children and Families warns that Georgia could lose $2 million a year in federal funding if it continues locking them up at current rates.
Georgia has until June 30 to sign an interstate compact pledging cooperation in juvenile justice matters. Former Gov. Sonny Perdue refused, ostensibly because he felt it infringed on the state’s sovereignty. Without the compact, officials may have no way to monitor juvenile offenders who leave Georgia. The clock is ticking.