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Secretary's Message

August 31, 2012

Wansley Walters

Dear DJJ team members:


Welcome to my weekly letter. Please allow me to share some recent news and announcements.


CONGRATULATIONS: I was honored to speak before the basic officer graduating class at the Florida Public Safety Institute in Tallahassee today. The following graduates received a certificate for completing 240 hours of training to become a juvenile justice detention officer or juvenile justice residential officer.


Lawrence Braclet, Duval Halfway House
Marcus Chambers, Alachua Regional Juvenile Detention Center (RJDC)
Geraldine Chaney, Palm Beach RJDC
Joseph Costa, Collier RJDC
Scott Fontenot, Escambia RJDC
Keeira Hall, Bay RJDC
Erica Hewitt, Bay RJDC
Robert Jagoe, Escambia RJDC
Kaleff McLeod, St. Lucie RJDC
Luis Quinones, Collier RJDC
Antwan Saunders, Escambia RJDC
Michael Schneider, Escambia RJDC
Gregory Singh, Collier RJDC
Brandon Sull, Collier RJDC
Rodriquez Vanderhorst, Falkenburg Academy
Antonio Velazquez, Alachua RJDC


SPOTLIGHT ON DATA: The Office of Research and Planning is involved in almost every major policy decision regarding youth. Mark Greenwald, chief of Research and Planning, has been with DJJ for 10 years. He has a bachelor’s degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice from Florida State University, a master’s degree in Justice Policy and Management from Florida Atlantic University, and he is working toward a Ph.D. in Criminology from FSU. He recently discussed his work and priorities.

Chief of Research and Planning Mark Greenwald 

Chief of Research and Planning Mark Greenwald

Q. Mark, please describe DJJ’s data system and why it is important.

A. DJJ’s Juvenile Justice Information System (JJIS) is the most comprehensive juvenile justice data system in the nation. One of the major advantages of having a statewide data system is it allows us to record consistent information on each individual youth. This drives our ability to consistently present at-risk and troubled youth with the optimal assistance each one needs. JJIS captures a data set of more than a million kids DJJ has served since 2000, which is examined to determine trends and program needs, as well as guide policy development. Very few states have the same depth of comprehensive data and the research team to analyze it. Our research and data integrity staff have actually consulted with other states that have used Florida as model for a variety of projects and initiatives.

Research and Planning has three primary objectives: One, data integrity. DJJ has a team that works throughout the state to verify the information entered into JJIS is correct and train people on how to use the system. To my knowledge, Florida is unlike any other state in that DJJ has a built-in process to check our data for accuracy. This is a great advantage to Florida in making decisions regarding services and policies. Two, legislatively mandated functions, such as the Comprehensive Accountability Report (CAR), an annual assessment to evaluate the number of youth served and the effectiveness of services. Finally, ad hoc research. The Governor, Secretary, Legislature and stakeholders often request data that is used to inform and guide decisions and policy.

One of the most exciting developments that Secretary Walters has pushed is to use data to guide decisions rather than simply to support existing policy. This is the best use of data: to identify problems and research the effectiveness of programs, and use that information to find ways to further improve the system. This shift in the use of data for planning has resulted in many of the changes DJJ is currently undertaking, including right-sizing Residential services, modifying the day-treatment model to ensure youth have supervision during peak offense times, and expanding the use of Civil Citation. I sit behind a computer most of the time, and that’s not the same as being face-to-face with a child, helping him. It’s a great feeling to know the work we are doing is making things better for kids. It makes me feel that what we’re doing matters.

Q. What is your priority for Research and Planning?

A. 2012 is the “Year of the Web.” We are dramatically expanding the amount of information available via the DJJ website. Governor Scott asked all state agencies to place performance measures on the web, and we are taking that to an extreme. We are putting reports, such as the CAR, on the web and are working to get monthly updates on the data, so that data that was once available on a yearly cycle is now much closer to real-time. This includes the Delinquency Profile, which will be available online this fall. It will have much greater functionality and a more user-friendly format. Putting it online eliminates compatibility problems that users had in the past downloading the file. People looking for data about youth or programs will be able to answer their own questions, allowing our analysts to explore more complicated analyses.

Q. Is there anything else you would like the public to know?

A. Check the web. We produce a massive amount of useful information. We want to do whatever we can to make you more effective at helping kids. Let our team know what is useful to you. (Click here for data reports.)

PROCUREMENT BEST PRACTICES: Every year, DJJ procures millions of dollars in services to make sure we provide the right intervention to the right youth at the right time. To help us identify how we can best improve our method to manage, measure and get better results for those services, we engaged a respected consulting firm, North Highland, which has been carefully reviewing our procurement process. Over the last two months, North Highland has identified five initiatives, two of which we have prioritized for immediate action:

  • Develop a Department-wide Planning & Resource Management Strategy – We will create a comprehensive inventory all of DJJ contracts across all program areas. We will then build an integrated schedule to identify the dates and other constraints that will highlight important points to consider as we make procurement decisions. The inventory will begin next week. This effort will include: Detention, Prevention, Probation, Residential, Health Services, Quality Improvement and the Bureau of Contracts. 
  • Strengthen Provider Management – We will examine all angles of provider (vendor) management to hold providers accountable while we provide the support they need to deliver the most effective services to our youth and improve outcomes. This effort will include the Office of Inspector General, Quality Improvement, Research & Planning, Fiscal Monitoring, Administrative Review, Contract Management and Program Monitoring.

This is one way DJJ is working smarter. Once complete, this process will enhance our effectiveness as an organization, ultimately improving outcomes for Florida’s youth.

PREVENTION KUDOS: On Friday, August 17, the Computer Mentors Group, Inc., Information Technology Forward Civic Justice Corps (IT Forward CJC) donated 61 computers to disadvantaged youth during a back-to-school event in Tampa. DJJ Delinquency Prevention Specialist Supervisor Audrey “Pat” McGhee served as the keynote speaker. IT Forward CJC is funded by the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration. Civic Justice Corps (CJC) grants serve individuals ages 18 to 24 who have been involved with the juvenile justice system. CJC projects use a restorative justice model that provides young offenders the opportunity to atone for their actions through community service. IT Forward CJC members assisted with preparing the computers for donation and several members were honored for their service during the back-to-school event. Many thanks go to the Computer Mentors Group IT Forward CJC program for donating the computers and to Pat for her participation in this worthy effort.

PROBATION KUDOS: Circuit 6 Senior Juvenile Probation Officer (JPO) Katherine Gomez received a handwritten letter from summer intern Steven Hausheer thanking her and JPO Norine Borrow. Excerpts from the letter are below.


I want to thank you for allowing me to work with you this summer…While I’m not really sure where I’m going yet, I think you’re right, that I’m in the right field of study…You’ve been brilliant. You’re an excellent teacher, one of the best I’ve ever had. You are a very smart, dedicated, and patient instructor. I have no complaints or regrets. You get the A+. I have come to think of you as both a mentor and a friend, albeit one who makes me file paperwork.  


P.S. Tell Norine she’s awesome.

PROBATION KUDOS II: Congratulations to Circuit 7 Chief Probation Officer David Kerr for receiving the 2012 Florida Council on Crime and Delinquency (FCCD) Distinguished Service Award for Juvenile Justice on August 22. Every year, FCCD chapters bestow awards for local service, and all chapter award recipients are considered for the statewide honor. David has dedicated more than 33 years of service to the state. He actively participates in the juvenile justice councils of Volusia, Flagler, St. Johns and Putnam counties and the Circuit 17 Juvenile Justice Board; he has enhanced relationships with local law enforcement agencies in those counties; and he has established community partnerships, which has led to increased local resources for DJJ youth and families. Thanks to David for his consistent service and many contributions to at-risk and troubled youth, DJJ and Florida.


CPO David Kerr and Angela Gordon, assistant warden, Tomoka Correctional Institution, Daytona Beach

CIRCUIT 19 KUDOS: Thanks to Residential Director-South Region Lois Salton for organizing a tour of Circuit 19 juvenile justice facilities on August 23. Three Circuit 19 juvenile court judges, Mark W. Klingensmith, Lawrence M. Mirman and Robert A. Hawley attended, as well as representatives from the State Attorney’s Office, the Public Defender’s Office, and the St. Lucie County Re-entry team (from the school system and the local workforce board). The group toured the Martin Girls Academy, the Okeechobee Juvenile Offender Corrections Center, the Okeechobee Youth Development Center, and the Okeechobee Girls Academy. Thanks also to the DJJ staff who accompanied the tour, offering information and assistance to the guests: Probation Director-South Region Vanessa Hargray; CPO Wydee’a Wilson; South Region Commitment Manager Erna Foushee’; Prevention Specialist Paula Friedrich; Program Monitors Alicia Woodard and George Wright; JPO supervisors Sharon Coplin and Pamela Cummings; and Stephen Brown of Residential Services. Thanks also to St. Lucie RJDC Superintendent Kevin Housel for arranging transportation.

Judge Klingensmith graciously sent a handwritten note of appreciation following the visit:

Thank you for putting together the facility tour this week. It was very informative, and provided great insight into the programs that are available. Please thank everyone for their hospitality and courtesy to all of us.


FAREWELL: Best wishes to JPO Jennifer Gobeli, who has accepted a position with Pasco County Schools as a guidance counselor. Jennifer has faithfully served DJJ for 11 years and she will be missed. In a parting email, Jennifer praised her supervisor, Melissa Fuller.

I just wanted to send you all an email to express my appreciation and gratitude. I have immensely enjoyed my time with the Department and am grateful for the opportunities that my job has provided me. Leaving is extremely bittersweet, but I am confident that our paths will continue to cross!

I wanted to say how thankful I am to have had such an inspirational supervisor that has helped both myself and our unit better recognize our strengths. She is an exceedingly strong and intelligent team leader, who consistently uses a creative approach to resolve difficulties. Under her leadership, Unit 103 has become a more cohesive and more harmonious unit.   

Again, thank you for everything! 

UPCOMING EVENTS: Please share the following information with others who may be interested.

Sept. 8 (Saturday) – Volunteer Chaplain Training, 9:00 am to 3:00 pm at the Salvation Army, 821 Martin Luther King Blvd., Stuart. Training is free; lunch is $10. Open to anyone interested in serving troubled youth. The training includes an overview of the juvenile justice continuum, chaplain role and responsibilities, safety and security, trauma-informed care and service protocol. RSVP by Thursday, Sept. 6 to Andy Hindman at 850.410.2577 or Andy.Hindman@djj.state.fl.us.

Sept. 14 (Friday) – Faith Forum, 9:00 am to 2:00 pm at the Solomon Calhoun Center, 1300 Duval Street, St. Augustine. Cost is $5 and includes lunch. All faith leaders, faith-based volunteers, juvenile justice leaders and anyone interested in serving troubled youth are invited. The Faith Forum will connect resources, highlight best practices, provide training to enhance faith and community-based programs that serve youth, and raise awareness of issues impacting our youth and their families. RSVP by Wednesday, Sept. 12 to Andy Hindman at 850.410.2577 or Andy.Hindman@djj.state.fl.us.

Sept. 24 (Monday) – Human Trafficking Summit in Tallahassee. For more information or to sign up, please visit the summit website at http://www.flgov.com/humantraffickingsummit/.

Oct. 24-26 (Wednesday-Friday) – “Our Children, Our Future: Restoring Hope” National Faith Symposium in Orlando. For more information, contact Andy Hindman at 850.410.2577 or Andy.Hindman@djj.state.fl.us.

NEW LEADERS: As previously announced, today Chief of Staff Christy Daly assumes her duties as deputy secretary, replacing Robert Woody, who has retired. Thanks to both for their dedicated service to DJJ. Also, as previously announced, Robert Munson reported to work this week as DJJ’s new inspector general and J. Alex Kelly joins DJJ as chief of staff on Monday, Sept. 10. Christy, Alex and Robert will work hard to put the needs of troubled kids first. Read the news release on these appointments for more details.

To all employees, thank you for your vigilance and cooperation throughout Tropical Storm Isaac. Your timely preparations helped to maintain a calm, safe response among the affected programs and facilities. Please enjoy the Labor Day weekend 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.