Athens, Ga. – University of Georgia School of Social Work Professor Ed Risler has been elected by unanimous vote to serve as chair of the board for the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice. Risler has served on the board for the last eight years and most recently held the position of vice chair.
“My emphasis has really been on education,” said Risler. “Education is the one constant of rehabilitation.”
In his years of service on the Juvenile Justice board, Risler has been instrumental in petitioning for accreditation for the department’s educational programs by two national organizations, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the Correctional Education Association.
“I know of no other state in the country that has had its correctional educational programs for youth accredited not by one, but two national organizations,” Risler wrote in a Nov. op-ed piece published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The board, comprised of 15 governor-appointed members, is responsible for establishing the general policy for the Department of Juvenile Justice, including developing programs to rehabilitate youth who are committed to state custody. The board also is responsible for providing educational programs to as many as 3,000 youth held in one of the 28 correctional facilities throughout the state.
The Department of Juvenile Justice is recognized as the 181st largest school district in Georgia. “The department’s school system complies with all state and federal IDEA [Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act] standards and meets all of the ‘No Child Left Behind’ standards for highly qualified teachers,” noted Risler in the op-ed.
Risler anticipates in the coming months the board will work on issues pertaining to the juvenile code, particularly the designated felon statute and addressing opportunities to manage the incarcerated population to prevent overcrowding.
“I’m humbled by the confidence that my colleagues on the board have shown in me by my election as chair,” said Risler. “It allows the university to lend resources to the department in a variety of ways. The department has partnered with the School of Social Work on a number of projects, and it certainly is in line with the service mission of the university and the school.”
Risler has more than 20 years of experience working in the juvenile justice system and working with families and troubled youth. He maintains his license as a clinical social worker and marriage and family therapist and conducts research in the areas of juvenile justice and poverty.
For more information on Risler and the UGA School of Social Work, see http://ssw.uga.edu:8091/plone.