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Monday, July 22, 2013 - 12:56pm

Suspended Workers Back On The Job

All but one of the youth detention center investigators suspended last month amid widening claims of sexual abuse returned to work Monday.

The state Department of Juvenile Justice says 17 out of 18 suspended workers are back on the job as reform efforts intensify.

Juvenile Justice Commissioner Avery Niles says the number of unresolved sexual abuse cases goes far beyond the 20 that led to the suspensions in June.

The number is now 141.

Department spokesman Jim Shuler says the returning investigators will undergo new training aimed at getting to the bottom of allegations.

"This is a time for comprehensive changes within the department of juvenile justice to make the basic changes that are needed to be made in order to make a broken system of reporting work," says Shuler.

The investigator who didn't return to work took voluntary retirement.

Pat Willis of Voices for Georgia's Children says the scope of allegations at the state's youth detention centers means officials should take a comprehensive approach to reform efforts.

"We tend to think of these abuses as being only in the detention facilities and yet, according to the data, we also found abuses in community-based services," says Willis.

Those facilities are set to expand under recently enacted juvenile justice laws.

The state's youth detention system has come under fire since an investigation found hundreds of unresolved claims.

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