Commissioner Avery Niles tapped Cedric Taylor to lead the Augusta Youth Development Campus, the department said in a statement. Taylor comes to the juvenile justice system from the state Department of Corrections, where he started as a correctional officer in 1992.
Since August, Taylor has been the warden at Valdosta State Close Security Prison, where he oversaw 1,500 inmates and 300 employees. Before that, he held various positions within the Department of Corrections, including serving as the department’s manager of special operations and warden of Autry State Prison in Pelham.
“With his twenty years of experience across this spectrum of Georgia Corrections, Cedric Taylor can provide the new direction in integrity we need at Augusta YDC,” Niles said. “Taylor has a reputation for honesty and a firm and fair attitude for leadership.”
Niles, who took over the department on Nov. 1, on Monday appointed two other top leaders as part of a personnel shakeup at the Augusta facility. James L. Reid was named assistant director of security, and Donnell Collins was named captain of corrections officers.
The Augusta youth detention facility has had a string of problems over the past year or so, including the beating death of an inmate in November 2011, an escape by five inmates in October and at least two violent fights that have sent inmates to the hospital.
Niles fired the Augusta facility’s interim director earlier this week. Melvin Womble had been suspended with pay last month after a serious assault in the detention center that sent an inmate to the hospital. Officials said Womble was dismissed Monday because at the time of the assault, he was serving a yearlong probationary employment period for actions that led to five inmates escaping in October. The teens stole a car and led police on a high-speed chase.
Womble, who was previously the facility’s assistant director of security, was named interim director following the resignation of the facility’s former director, Ronald Brawner, on Oct. 31.
Niles has also dismissed several other employees from the facility as part of department investigations into problems there.
Taylor is set to assume his new role Feb. 1. Until then, the commissioner has assigned a team of department support staff to handle day-to-day operations.