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Monday, December 10, 2012 - 1:00am

GA Juvenile Justice Chief Faces Challenges

When five young men escaped from a juvenile detention center a month and a half ago in Augusta, it was the latest in a string of setbacks for officials trying to turn around Georgia's system for young criminals.

The Augusta facility has had a number of high-profile problems in recent years, but it's not alone. Other facilities have seen brawls, gang activity and misconduct by corrections officers, including inappropriate relationships with residents and distribution of contraband.

Avery Niles became commissioner of the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice November 1. He's pledged to correct existing problems and strengthen safety and security practices.

He's spent his first month visiting the department's secure facilities around the state, getting to know his staff and studying the budget. He says recruiting is a top priority.

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