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Secretary's Message

December 7, 2012

Wansley WaltersDear DJJ team members:

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

ROADMAP UPDATE: This week I led the latest series of editorial board, stakeholder and Town Hall meetings in Orlando (Monday), Tampa (Tuesday) and Pinellas County (Wednesday) to discuss the Roadmap to System Excellence. We met with 15 journalists, 68 stakeholders and more than 350 members of the public at these meetings. Click here to read coverage in the Orlando Sentinel after my visit to the editorial board there. Next and final Roadmap stops for this year are West Palm Beach (Dec. 18), Fort Lauderdale (Dec. 19) and Miami (Dec. 20). Additional meetings around the state will be scheduled for early 2013.


Orange County Roadmap Townhall Meeting

DJJ Assistant Superintendent Roosevelt Butler Jr. (standing left) and Superintendent Jeff Lonton of Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center are applauded at Monday’s Roadmap Town Hall meeting in Orlando after being commended by an audience member who mentors children.

MODELS FOR CHANGE: Deputy Secretary Christy Daly attended the Seventh Annual Models for Change National Working Conference this week  in Washington, D.C. Funded by the MacArthur Foundation, Models for Change is a long-term, $100 million investment in an evidence-based approach to juvenile justice that is more fair, rational and effective than traditional practices. Florida is one of 16 states participating in this initiative to promote reforms that hold young people accountable for their actions, provide for their rehabilitation, protect them from harm, increase their chances for success and manage the risk they pose to public safety. The initiative embraces the following principles: fundamental fairness, developmental differences between youth and adults, individual strengths and needs, youth potential, responsibility and safety.

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: The first committee week to prepare for the 2013 legislative session ended today. Our staff presented a brief overview of our agency along with our 2013 legislative initiatives to the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice and the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee. Our legislative team met with the newly appointed chairs, Sen. Greg Evers (R-Crestview) of the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice, and Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Shalimar) the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee, as well as members from the House and Senate appropriations committees to discuss our legislative package, Legislative Budget Request and the Roadmap to System Excellence.   

DETENTION KUDOS: Thanks to Dr. Allen Cason, Jr., for sharing his experiences as a civil rights activist during a visit with youth at Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center on Nov. 29. Fifty years ago, Dr. Cason stood with others against racial segregation in the South. He is featured in the PBS documentary, “Freedom Riders.” Thanks also to the Orange County School Board for arranging this enlightening and motivational experience for youth. Click here to read more about Dr. Cason.

PROBATION KUDOS: I am pleased to share the following letter I received this week from the transition coordinator for the St. Johns County School District commending juvenile probation officer (JPO) supervisor John Thompson and senior JPO Chris Massey:

I work for St. Johns County School District. I am the school district's representative in charge of the transition of juveniles from St. Johns County in or out of DJJ correctional facilities throughout the state of Florida. As such I deal with the St. Johns County DJJ team. I also sit on the Juvenile Justice Council and interact with St. Johns DJJ folks there as well. The reason I am writing this to you is I would like to recognize two individuals in particular that have enabled me to do a much more thorough job and ultimately make the right call with these juveniles when they transition back in to our school system. JPO Supervisor John Thompson and Senior JPO Chris Massey have repeatedly gone above and beyond working with the school system. They always want what's best for these kids. The school system could not have made the informed decisions it has had to make without their assistance. They are never too busy to take my call and talk to me about a juvenile coming back to St. Johns County. I sometimes worry they'll start to think this is a one way street! Anyway, I know in both of our worlds pats on the back are few and far between, so I'd like you to know what a collaborative team you have in St. Johns County. Thank you.

Troy Kasting
St. Johns County School District, St. Augustine  

RESIDENTIAL KUDOS: Thanks to the youth and staff at Daytona Juvenile Residential Facility in Volusia County for conducting a food drive during November to support the Salvation Army. Staff brought non-perishable food to the facility. Families also donated during “Family Day” on Nov. 18. Youth assisted by creating labels that read, “A Gift from the Youth at Daytona Juvenile Residential Facility.” The Salvation Army picked up the donations from the facility on Nov. 21 and so much was donated that the entire back of the vehicle was filled! Bridgette McLeod from the Salvation Army explained to youth how the donations will help others and commended youth and staff for participating in this community service project.

CHRISTMAS EVE: Gov. Rick Scott has directed state executive buildings to be closed on Monday, Dec. 24. State employees should use the People First leave code 0056 (administrative leave – authorized other) on timecards. Employees who are required to work that day due to staffing needs may take an equivalent amount of leave no later than June 30, 2013. Please note: OPS employees are not eligible, pursuant to Rule 60L-34.001, F.A.C. If you have any questions, please direct them to Otis Ray at 850.921.0861 or Otis.Ray@DJJ.state.fl.us. Click the links to view the announcement from the Department of Management Services and the related Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document

HOLIDAY PHOTOS WANTED: If you are performing work-related community service during the holidays (such as tending the Salvation Army kettle, organizing food drives or helping those in need in some way), I would like to know about it. Please share photos of you or your colleagues helping out during the holidays, with a brief explanation of who is doing what, and they will be published in my Dec. 21 weekly letter and on DJJ’s Facebook page. Please submit your holiday photos and captions to news@djj.state.fl.us.

It was a pleasure seeing many of you at this week’s Roadmap meetings. Thank you for the wonderful work you do each day with our children.




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.