State Reformatory, for the detention and punishment of youthful delinquents,
was established in 1905 under the management of the Georgia Prison Commission
. Any prisoner, black or white, confined in the state prison farm or chain
gangs in the state who were 16 years old or under at the time it opened
and not sentenced for life were to be sent here." Any person committed
to the Georgia State Reformatory for an offence punishable by imprisonment
in the penitentiary may be held in said reformatory for a term not exceeding
five years, or, if committed for a longer term than five years, may be
held for such longer term; and any person committed to said reformatory
for an offence that is punishable as for a misdemeanour, may be held in
said reformatory for a term not exceeding two years; provided, however,
that no person shall he held in said reformatory after he or she has arrived
at the age of twenty-one years."
The general supervision, control and government was "vested in the Prison Commission of Georgia, and said commission shall have power to make all rules and regulations necessary and proper for the employment, discipline, instruction and education of the inmates detained in said reformatory, and shall also have power to determine in their discretion as to what character or kind of work any particular inmate shall be required at any time to perform."
The prison commission had the " power to appoint, with the approval of the Governor, a fit and proper person as superintendent of said reformatory, at a salary not exceeding twelve hundred dollars per year. The said superintendent shall reside at said reformatory and his lodging and board shall be furnished at the expense of the State. The duties of said superintendent shall be prescribed by the commission, and he shall be under its direction and control, and subject to removal by the commission at any time. The said commission shall also appoint such teachers, guards and other employees as are necessary to the proper conducting of said reformatory, and shall prescribe their duties and fix their salaries, but the amounts of such salaries before allowed shall be approved by the Governor."
The inmates were to be "employed in agricultural, domestic and mechanical work, and shall be given a reasonable amount of instruction in the elementary branches of an English education. The commission, if it deem best, is empowered to establish and maintain in connection with said institution a system of manual training and instruction in trades, and create such industries, productive or otherwise, as are, in their opinion, to the best interests of the inmates of said reformatory."
The discipline to be observed in said institution shall be reformatory, and the commission shall have power to use such means of reformation as is consistent with the improvement of the inmates as it may deem best and expedient; but a method of discipline shall be used as will, as far as possible, reform the characters of the inmates, preserve their health, promote regular improvement in their studies and employment, and secure in them fixed habits in religion, morality and industry; and the commission shall maintain such control over said inmates as will prevent them from committing crime, best secure their self-support, accomplish their reformation, and that will tend to make of them good and law-abiding citizens.
The reformatory opened in December 1906 and started out with a two story brick building (above picture) containing offices for officials, sleeping quarters for more than a hundred boys, dining room, recitation room and chapel. It was located on a site containing 200 acres of farm land belonging to the state, a short distance from the state prison farm. Preparations were made for caring for thirty inmates when opened. The first superintendent and matron was Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin T. Bethune, of Milledgeville.
In 1912 Joseph E. Lovvorn of Cedartown became the superintendent and Mrs. Lovvorn, his wife, matron. By 1913 nearly 200 boys were inmates here. There was a separate schools for white and blacks. School sessions in the mornings, farm and other work in the afternoon. There were 7 grades with one teacher. Agricultural training such as raising and storing forage and feed stuffs for farm mules and her of milk cows was done by all the boys as well as other farm work . An Industrial trade shop was started by Supernatant Lovvorn. Trades such as shoe repair, sign lettering, painting, barber work, tanning hides, blacksmithing, and bottoming chairs were taught.
About 1912 an attorney named John Sibley organized a Sunday school here, aided by teachers, prominent business men and faculty members of both colleges in Milledgeville. Also the boys frequently attend church services in Milledgeville
Entertainment was provided by the manager of the moving picture theatre im Milledgeville and the boys saw one selected picture show each month. Superintendent Lovvorn resigned in June 1917 and was succeeded by J.L. Smith, of Green County. When Smith resigned in 1919 Charles E. Bonner of Milledgeville was appointed to succeed him.
The name of the facility was changed to Georgia Training School for Boys in 1919 and placed under a board of managers
"consisting of the State School Commission of Georgia, the Secretary of the Board of Health of the State of Georgia (both of whom shall be ex-officio members of said Board of Managers, and five other persons, citizens of said state, two of whom may be women, to be appointed by the Governor." E.B. Cochran was appointed temporary superintendent, replacing Charles .E. Bonner.
1921 Mrs. Orian Wood Manson, a native of Irwinton Ga, and the first female member of the board, was elected and she was superintendent until her death in July 1925.
In 1921, it had become a self-supporting farm and some of the produce sold purchased a gasoline engine, wood saw, gristmill, farm wagon, Ford car. 200 trees and shrubs were planted. 1,000 privet hedge plants, 60 roses and flower beds.
Tennis court and basketball court was donated by F. J. Pason, of Atlanta, chairman of the board of the training school, Ogden Persons, of Forsyth sent large collection of books.
William E. "Bill" Ireland, a former inmate and employee since 1921 was elected superintendent after the death of Mrs Manson. He was in this position from 1925 - 1947 and 1949-1964. In 1985 the facility was named in his honor William E. "Bill" Ireland Youth Development Campus.
Effective January 1, 1932 it was managed by the Board of Control of Eleemosynary Institutions which was changed to State Department of Public Welfare of Georgia in 1937. Currently it is under the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice.
Due to budget cuts, all the inmates of YDC
were transferred out as of Oct. 11, 2009. This state institution, after
104 years in the community, is no more.
Sources: The Atlanta Constitution, Augusta Chronicle, Acts of The Georgia General Assembly.
Eileen B. McAdams copyright 2005- 2009