Department of Juvenile Justice Commissioner Avery Niles, who spent much of his earlier career in Hall County law enforcement, was honored Monday by the Council of Juvenile Court Judges.
Niles received the 2016 Martha K. Glaze Award, a distinction given to someone not in the judiciary to honor the work in the juvenile justice area.
Niles said he was moved by the honor.
“It was a great recognition, where there’s a group of judges that’s judging on who the recipient should be,” he said. “For them to choose somebody from my background as it relates to always providing services 100 percent for those in need of care, I was humbled by it.”
Speaking on Niles’ behalf, retired Juvenile Court Judge Cliff Jolliff introduced the commissioner and praised him for being an “open, team-player kind of guy.”
Niles said he has known Jolliff since the commissioner’s time as a juvenile investigator with the Hall County Sheriff’s Office.
“He’s a jewel of a judge and he’s always been loyal to that profession,” Niles said.
In the history of DJJ commissioners, Jolliff said he stood apart from his predecessors.
“For a variety of reasons, sometimes they just — because of agency policies or things they were trying to do — just kind of (have) an antagonistic relationship between our group of judges and the commissioner of DJJ,” Jolliff said.
In terms of having standardized practices statewide and other initiatives, the retired judge praised Niles for bringing judges in on the front end to collaborate.
Niles said the work requires a great deal of communication with the judiciary in finding the best care and intervention programs for young offenders.
“Rehabilitation starts when the judges do what they need to do to get the kids the help that they need,” he said.
Niles praised Gov. Nathan Deal’s commitment to the issue, saying the governor is a “a key component of the juvenile justice arena.”