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Secretary's Message

December 22, 2011

Wansley Walters

Dear DJJ Employees:

Welcome to my weekly letter. Please allow me to share the following:

PREVENTING BULLYING: The Office of Prevention and Victim Services recently partnered with Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. and Continental Societies, Inc., to provide a much needed presentation to elementary school students in Miami-Dade County on bullying. DJJ’s Marie Boswell spoke to parents and children at Fairway Elementary School in Miramar. Her presentation capped a week-long series of events on why bullying is not cool. According to feedback received from event coordinators, Marie did an outstanding job and is to be commended for her presentation. We give accolades to Marie Boswell for representing the Department of Juvenile Justice in a very dignified and positive light. Thanks to the Office of Prevention and Victim Services for continuing to reach out to our communities.

CONTRACT KUDOS: The Bureau of Contracts has many wonderful people who are responsible for DJJ contracting activities while providing excellent customer service. The Bureau, beginning in January 2012, will randomly select a Contract Administration Service Team (CAST) member from the unit each month to be recognized. The individual will be asked for a few informational things about their interests or whatever they would like to share about themselves. He/she will also be awarded a gift card and have a plaque to hang on their door identifying them as the CAST member of the month. Each member of the Bureau will be recognized over the next year or so. We want everyone to know how proud we are of our staff and their dedication to our goals and mission.

EMPLOYEE SPOTLIGHT: DJJ’s Erica Baker, Secretary Specialist in Circuit 17, is dedicated to assisting youth in having a positive life. In her spare time, she is a track coach with the City of Miramar and has been recognized as an Outstanding Florida Official at the 2011 U.S.A. Track and Field Association annual meeting. Erica also volunteers at Miami Central Senior High assisting students in preparing for the SAT. Thank you, Erica, for all you do in Circuit 17.

TEACHER SPOTLIGHT: In last week’s letter, I mentioned that Dennis Miller was recently named the DJJ Teacher of the Year. Yesterday, the Tampa Tribune published a story about this distinction. Click here for the story.

EDUCATION: Speaking of teachers, you may have heard of proposed legislative reforms to juvenile justice education programs. Here is a summary: Senate Bill 834 has a sponsor in the House of Representatives, but the companion bill has not yet been filed. SB 834 focuses on accountability measures focusing on student outcomes. The bill emphasizes preparing youth in residential commitment and day treatment programs to enter the workforce, or continue their education upon release. Virtual education is a key element of the bill, encouraging youth to work towards credit recovery during the evenings and weekends. This bill is not yet in its final form, so changes are still likely. We will keep you posted as this legislation moves through the legislative process.

Finally, allow me to share excerpts from a letter received just yesterday from a mother in Central Florida. She wrote concerning Ramon Nieves, a juvenile probation officer in Circuit 18. I have withheld the names of the mother and child for confidentiality and privacy reasons. Here it is:

December 21, 2011

Patricia Gressett, Supervisor
Department of Juvenile Justice
2224 Sarno Rd
Melbourne, FL 32935

Re: Ramon Nieves, Probation Officer

Dear Ms. Gressett,

I would like to express my sincere appreciation and gratitude to you, your department and most especially to Ramon. I have had some very trying times with my son over the past several years and the past couple of months have been extreme but not as severe as the knowledge I am obtaining about his drug use and choice of drugs as of late. Since learning this information about my son I have been very angry, upset and extremely scared for his health. Ramon has been very helpful and supportive to me in this crisis.

Ramon has been very helpful to me with all of my son’s violations and has given me support when I felt I was at a loss with what more I could do with him. Ramon really exemplified his duty and professionalism by taking my son to court for me, as I am on probation with my new job. He recently sent in the request for my son to have a drug evaluation and on Monday he let me know that this was approved. Also, he had called JDC about another case and inquired about my son, as I have not been to see him; he let me know that he is doing well. I know my son has not been cooperative with his probation but he does show Ramon respect.

I do not know what or if anything you are able to do or give to Ramon for the outstanding job he has done thus far but if there is something he truly deserves some type of commendation.

Ramon, on behalf of all of us at DJJ, thank you for your care and compassion for this young man and his family, especially during the holidays. You represent the type of professional public servant of whom all Floridians can be proud.

To all DJJ staff, please accept my sincere gratitude for your hard work and dedication in 2011. I wish you and your families a merry Christmas and joyous New Year. Whether you will celebrate the holidays at home or away, please travel safely.


Wansley Walters

PS: Please send any noteworthy or newsworthy items for consideration in my weekly letter to Communications Director C. J. Drake at cj.drake@djj.state.fl.us or call 850.921.5905. Submissions are considered on a space-available basis and may be edited for clarity and length. Thank you for your cooperation.