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Secretary's Message

August 15, 2014

Secretary Daly’s Weekly Letter

I am sincerely grateful for the hard work and steadfast dedication to this agency from those who work in juvenile justice across the state and I am proud to share every week the great work occurring here at the Department of Juvenile Justice and that of our partners. I hope you will take a moment to read the stories about the accomplishments of our colleagues and the youth in our care. I am always looking for opportunities to showcase the work you do – on and off the clock – to enrich your communities. I know there is even more going on than what I report here, so I would like to encourage each of you to keep the weekly letter in mind and remember to share your good news. It’s easy – email news@djj.state.fl.us or call (850) 921–5900 by Thursday at noon (submissions after that time will be considered for the next week’s letter).


Christina K. Daly

Juvenile Probation Officer Graduation

I was honored to give the welcome address congratulating the newest class of juvenile probation officers (JPOs) in a ceremony today at DJJ Headquarters in Tallahassee.  JPOs ensure youth comply with court requirements and assist teens and their families in accessing services that support the youths’ success, such as counseling and skills development. They work with youth in judicial circuits throughout Florida at every point in the juvenile justice continuum, from initial intake screening through the supervision of services. They provide a formal recommendation for each youth who is arrested, and advise the court regarding appropriate sanctions and services. Each graduate successfully completed 403 hours of training to become a certified officer and will serve in the city listed next to his or her name, below. Thanks to learning consultant Christina Ash for leading the class through the certification process for this position of critical responsibility. 

Front row (left to right):  Valerie Pittman–Jacksonville, Paul Barber–Orlando, Rickayle Zanders–Tampa, Evgenia Sturr–Inverness, Ray Perez–Bradenton and Patricia Young–Ft. Walton Beach.

Middle row: Jonathon Drummond–New Port Richey, Brett Frakes–Madison, Lori Hammersley–Tampa, Nilja Brown–Orlando, Alfie Davis–Jacksonville, Randi Taylor–Mount Dora, Edwardo Sanchez–Tampa, Jessica Baker–Tampa, Alisa Bishop–Jacksonville and Christopher Pursino–Bradenton.

Back row: James Carmichel III–Bartow, Christopher Parker–Live Oak, Frank Marshall–Sanford, Angela Fluellen–Jacksonville, Alisha Saint Louis–Tampa, Charles James–Trenton, Dweise Harris–Jacksonville, Patty Young–Bartow and Marc Salley–Starke.

DJJ Employees Saving Lives

This good news story from the Brevard RJDC reminds us all why our detention staff are mandated to take CPR and First Aid training. During dinner services last week, JDO Ernesto Torres noticed that a youth was coughing. After a few seconds the youth had stopped coughing and appeared to be choking. In a matter of moments Ernesto grabbed the youth, turned him around and performed an abdominal thrust with a piece of food flying out. Training teaches us how to respond in emergency situations without really thinking but reacting.  Training and quick thinking saved this youth from choking.  Officer Torres is our Brevard RJDC’s Hero.

Youth Care Specialist Christopher Baker from the Youth Crisis Center in Jacksonville rushed in to perform the Heimlich maneuver to save the life of Taylor J, 16, a youth at the YCC facility, who was choking on pizza. Taylor was choking on a breaded piece of pizza. Taylor walked up to Mr. Baker and pointed at his throat. Mr. Baker asked Taylor if he was choking and Taylor nodded, yes. Mr. Baker then initiated the Heimlich maneuver and gave Taylor two abdominal thrusts.

Immediately after Mr. Baker initiated the Heimlich maneuver, a chunk of pizza popped out from Taylor's mouth. Thankfully, Taylor is doing well and Mr. Baker is receiving some well-deserved praise as a life-saver at Duval’s YCC. Great job Mr. Baker!

Gubernatorial Fellow Joins DJJ Staff

I am excited to announce that Abigail Novak will be joining our team here at DJJ as our 2014 Florida Gubernatorial Fellow. Abigail is currently enrolled at the Florida State University as a dual degree candidate seeking her Master’s in Social Work and Masters of Public Administration.  Abigail is also currently working as a youth and family advocate intern at Capital City Youth Services.

Abigail will work with the Executive Leadership team, Office of Probation and Community Intervention, key stakeholders and other state agencies to spearhead the implementation and expansion of the SNAP (Stop Now and Plan) program.  SNAP is a evidenced based, preventative model that provides direct serves to meet the needs of at-risk children ages 6-12 and their families. The goal of SNAP is to intervene prior to children entering the juvenile justice system or going deeper into the system.

The Florida Gubernatorial Fellow Program is a non-partisan program that immerses students from public and private universities in key areas of state government. During their nine-month tenure in Tallahassee, Fellows receive advanced on-the-job training as well as an invaluable front-line view of the inner workings of government. 

Probation Update

SJPO Patricia Johnston and JPOS Melissa Fuller from Circuit 6 participated in a Back to School Bash last Sunday in Pasco County. This event was hosted by the Pasco Schools Social Workers. Patricia and Melissa provided local resource guides, information on the services we offer at DJJ, and passed out school aged books to all of the youth in attendance. Pasco County has a truly devoted alliance of providers which made this event a success. 

Probation staff in Circuit 19 held their second annual Back to School Bash at Maravilla Park in Ft. Pierce last Friday. The theme of the event was entitled: Education- the Roadmap to Success and it was focused on recognizing those youth who made honor roll last year as well as distributing school supplies. Thanks to a generous donation from Life Builders of the Treasure Coast and other local businesses, DJJ was able to give away 200 book bags full of school supplies. Circuit 19 would like to thank ACPO Dorothy Malik who worked tirelessly in making this event a huge success, Ft. Pierce Mayor Linda Hudson for her participation and the St. Lucie RJDC for providing transportation. 

Last week, Probation staff from Circuit 7 participated in the National Night Out Against Crime event sponsored by the Port Orange Police Department. DJJ had an exhibit at the event and provided information concerning the services that DJJ offers to all of the community members in attendance. National Night Out is designed to heighten crime and drug awareness, strengthen neighborhood spirit as well as the police-community partnership. Other participants included: traffic units, K-9 units, military units, FBI, SWAT teams, restaurants, politicians and fun games and activities for the children.

Pictured left to right are Port Orange Police Department Chief Gerald Monahan, DJJ Sr. JPOs Sara Driver and Mary Moseley, and Assistant Chief Wayne Miller.

Circuit 7 also participated in a National Night Out event in Flagler County. This event was sponsored by the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office.

Pictured left to right are Gina Baker-Investigator for the State Attorney’s Office, on the right Melissa Clark –Managing Assistant State Attorney, center is C-7 JPO-Woody Douge.

Circuit 12 JPOS Mitzi Petty, who also serves as the Faith Liaison in her circuit, volunteered at the YEX Camp at the Christian Retreat in Bradenton last month. Mitzi worked with over 450 youth from around the state while running the Youth Pastors lounge at night. Circuit 12 Chaplin Barbara Waiter White was also in attendance.

Pictured left to right: Circuit 12 Chaplin Barbara Waiters and JPOS Mitzi Petty

Mitzi is also on the Board of Directors for the Keep Manatee Beautiful Campaign serving on the Education Committee. She and her daughter Samantha helped the teens at the YEX Camp initiate a recycling program and in the process collected over 100 pounds of plastic bottles and aluminum cans throughout the week. 

Pictured left to right: JPOS Mitzi Petty and Samantha Petty (JPOS Petty’s daughter)

Civil Citation Coordinator Cathy Egley, JPOS Jeanna Spellers and CPO David Kerr from Circuit 7 participated in back to school meetings throughout all four counties within the circuit over the last two weeks. These meetings consisted of school district personnel as well school resource deputies from the local sheriff’s offices. 

Pictured from left to right: C-7 Civil Citation Coordinator-Cathy Egley, Asst. Principal DeLand Middle School-Terry Calkins, C-7 CPO-David Kerr

Last Sunday, DJJ Probation and Detention Staff hosted a Back to School Family Fun Day at the Monroe RJDC in Key West. The families in attendance received backpacks and school supplies to get them ready for the upcoming school year and visited the Monroe County Sheriff’s Animal Farm. DJJ would like to thank the following partners for making the day such a successful and positive experience for our youth: DCF, Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, Early Learning Coalition, Kids Come First, Guardian Ad Litem, Drug Court, A Positive Step of Monroe and the Wesley House Family Services. The event provided a great networking opportunity for our community partners. 

Last Saturday, Probation staff in Seminole County held a Back to School BBQ for our probation youth and their families in the community. SJPO Walter Jimenez pulled double duty as the grill master for the event. In addition to the wonderful food, the youth participated in prize giveaways and face painting. Former Florida State football player Budd Thacker was in attendance and gave a moving speech to our kids about believing in themselves and doing well in school. The Federation of Families, Seminole Prevention Coalition, and Youth Moves also participated in the event. 

Back row: JPO staff, left to right: JPO, Tom Oliver, JPO Nakeshia Pelham, JPOS Kathy D'Alessandro, JPO, Eric Gaela, JPO Holly Fernandes; Sr. JPO Walter Jimenez; JPO, Bonita Johnson; JPO Antonio Henry. First row: JPO, Harold Dixon; JPO, Kistin Bentley; JPO, Ebonie Henderson. Staff in attendance not pictured: JPOS, Robyn Worlds; JPO, Pearl Mckahan; JPO, Julia Rogers; and JPO, Jonathan Darby;

Circuit 1 Probation Staff participated in the Pensacola National Night Out event last Tuesday. The celebration included free food and refreshments, school supplies for children, music, raffles and plenty of activities for kids.  The Escambia County Sheriff's Office, the Pensacola Police Department, Northwest Florida Prevention Coalition, the Community Drug and Alcohol Council Inc., Target and many local agencies sponsored the event.  Over 2000 people from the community attended. The Pensacola News Journal provided a video of the event and you can see it by clicking here

Circuit 13 JPOS Kelly Hammersley attended the Juvenile Justice Trials Steering Committee last week in Rockville, Maryland. Kelly served as the Florida Juvenile Justice partner assigned to Temple University’s Research Center. Temple University is one of six university research centers participating in the JJ-Trials which is receiving funding and oversight from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The purpose of the JJ Trials is to develop  a protocol and subsequent study that will achieve three primary goals: provide insight into the current delivery state of HIV and substance abuse prevention & treatment services within the juvenile justice system, improve delivery of evidence-based practices addressing prevention and treatment services targeting substance abuse and HIV risk behaviors, and advance implementation science.  

Circuit 6 JPO Melanie Phelps helped a youth in her care create a notebook that reflected her accomplishments and goals.  Melanie made note of the youth’s successes and reflected on things that she had accomplished throughout her teenage years. The notebook was developed to help the youth focus on positive things and how she can move forward from her poor choices from the past.


Last Saturday, Circuit 13 ACPO Sandra Pinkney participated in a Back to School Giveaway hosted by the City of Joy Ministry in Tampa. Sandra coordinated with the Probation and Detention offices to donate school supplies to the ministry. 

Pictured: ACPO Sandra Pinkney, Elder Daryl Flintroy (Pastor), and Fannie Hicks

Circuit 11 Reform Specialist Maria Gilhooley spearheaded a community enhancement project for the American Legion of Palmetto Bay on July 27. This project allowed DJJ youth on probation to beautify the ground outside of the Legion while earning valuable community service hours for their efforts.

On the right, the before pictures of the Circuit 11 American Legion Landscaping Project and on the left, after the project has been completed.

Last Saturday, Probation staff from Circuit 15 participated in the 2014 Community Back to School event in Palm Beach County. JPOs were present at multiple locations throughout the county including West Palm Beach, Jupiter, Delray Beach, Pahokee, Belle Glade and South Bay. These JPOs provided assistance wherever needed. The event served over 4,000 children in Palm Beach County including many juvenile probationers and their families who received free school supplies, physicals, haircuts and much more. 

Pictured: Hawaii Wells: Administrative Assistant, Shirlon McCarty: Reform Specialist, Geeta Loach-Jacobson Assistant Chief Probation Officer, Kathy Demosthenes: JDAI Coordinator and other Local High School volunteers at the Palm Beach County Convention Center, West Palm Beach, FL.

Detention Update

I would like to congratulate Senior JJDO Troy Jones who received the Juvenile Justice Gang Coordinator of the Year Award for 2014. Troy, who received this honor from the Florida Gang Investigators Association, was recognized for his collaborative efforts between the Orange RJDC and local law enforcement in the identification of gang members. Troy has been instrumental in educating staff on local gang issues which ultimately serves to provide a safer environment for staff and youth. 


I would also like to congratulate Dr. Jerome Covington, DHA from the Monroe RJDC who was honored with the title of “Best Doctor,” by the people of Key West. Dr. Covington was recognized recently for his achievement at an awards ceremony. The Monroe RJDC is very fortunate to have Dr. Covington on staff and is proud that he is a part of the DJJ family. 

JDO Supervisor Antonio Rios participated in a job fair Wednesday at Southwest Florida College in Ft. Myers. Antonio set up a DJJ display booth and provided potential applicants information about careers within the department, specifically detention positions. Mr. Rios was very enthusiastic and did an outstanding job. 

The Marion RJDC in Ocala had its first official visit with Coco, the therapy dog this week. Coco was met with a warm welcome from the youth and staff at the facility. This will be the first of many visits for Coco who will come to the RJDC on a regular basis with Marion’s licensed mental health counselor Marilyn Allen. 

This week, JDO Supervisor Elise Kasten provided a tour of the Volusia RJDC to a group of criminal justice students from Florida Technical College in Deland. Elise spoke about her experiences as a Juvenile Detention Officer and provided more insight to these students than a textbook ever could. Camiel Long from the Criminal Justice Department at Florida Technical College wrote a fabulous thank-you letter to CPO David Kerr from Circuit 7 regarding Elise and you can see it by clicking here 

Prevention Update

Statewide DMC Coordinator Josh Kuch, Faith Network Coordinator Craig Swain, Prevention Research Analyst Erika Gaeta, Director of Research and Planning Mark Greenwald and Circuit 4 CPO Gwen Steverson attended the Reducing Racial and Ethnic Disparities Juvenile Justice Certificate Program two weeks ago at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. The Reducing Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Juvenile Justice Certificate Program is an intensive training designed to support local jurisdictions in their efforts to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in their juvenile justice systems. The program is operated jointly by the Georgetown Center for Juvenile Justice Reform and the Center for Children's Law and Policy.

After completing the program, participants will be responsible for the development of a capstone project -- a set of actions each participant will design and undertake within their organization or community to initiate or continue efforts to reduce racial and ethnic disparities. After the capstone project is developed and approved by Georgetown University, participants receive an executive certificate from the University and are offered technical assistance from instructors to aid in the implementation of their project. Additionally, alumni of the certificate program become part of the CJJR Fellows Network.

In the attached photo from the Georgetown Reducing Racial and Ethnic Disparities Certificate Program are Craig Swain and Josh Kuch in the back row. Erika Gaeta and Mark Greenwald are in the middle row, and Gwen Steverson in the front row.

Larry Thompson, Program Director for 50 LARGE (Lifelong Achievement Responsibility Growth in Education) a DJJ prevention provider, spoke to DJJ employees at a Lunch and Learn at DJJ Headquarters on August 1. In order to enlighten Prevention team members about the 5-year-old local gang prevention program, Mr. Thompson discussed the history and mission of the organization, how they work to prevent youth from engaging in gangs and why they continue to work so diligently to provide positive opportunities for local youth to participate in wholesome activities.

The mission of 50 LARGE is changing lives by inspiring hope, molding character, teaching responsibility, providing real opportunity for young men, ages 11-19. 50 LARGE was established in 2009 through a Gang Free Schools and Communities Grant from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

Community Engagement Coordinator Verla Lawson-Grady and Delinquency Prevention Specialist Onazina Washington III set up a DJJ display for a back to school event last Thursday at the Jefferson County Middle and High School in Monticello. In order to prepare young people for the start of the 2014-15 school year, Verla and Onazina distributed information on DJJ programs and initiatives and also responded to questions from participants.

Parents, teachers, administrators and the community residents took part in the program. Approximately 100 parents and students attended. Designated speakers for this event were: Dr. Baron McComb, Principal; Dr. Terrell Davis, Vice Principal; Al Cooksey, Superintendent; Tammy McGriff, Federal Programs Specialist; Gloria Cox, District Parent Involvement Coordinator; Tom Vogelgesang, Director, Technical Support; Stephanie Roberts, JCMHS Bookkeeper; and Rev. J.W. Tisdale, Pastor, Saint Phillip A.M.E. Church.

In the attached photo: Verla Laws0n-Grady (left) and Onazina Washington stand in front of the DJJ display during Jefferson County 

Circuit Advisory Board Spotlight

I am pleased to highlight Dr. Sandra Pavelka as the Circuit Advisory Board Highlight for the month of August.  Dr. Sandra Pavelka is the Advisory Board Chairwoman for Circuit 20 and the Director of the Institute for Youth and Justice Studies and Associate Professor of Public Affairs at Florida Gulf Coast University.  She previously served as the Senior Research Associate with the Community Justice Institute at Florida Atlantic University as well as the Project Administrator of the Balanced and Restorative Justice (BARJ) Project funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, U.S. Department of Justice.

Dr. Pavelka received her Ph.D. in Public Administration with a specialization in Justice Policy from Florida Atlantic University. Her dissertation, Practice to Policy to Management: A Restorative Justice Framework, seminal work in the discipline, focused on system reform and policy implementation of restorative justice nationally. She holds a Master of Public Administration from Florida International University and Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Florida.

Dr. Pavelka is a proven advocate for youth. Dr. Pavelka is founding board member of the PACE Center for Girls - Lee and trustee member of PACE Center for Girls, Inc.  She serves as an Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Restorative Justice. She is Chair of the Juvenile Justice Advisory Board, Twentieth Judicial Circuit, State of Florida and Co-Chair of the Campus Security Committee of the Southwest Florida Regional Domestic Security Task Force. 

Dr. Pavelka has authored over 40 publications in her research areas.  Dr. Pavelka is internationally known for her research in restorative justice. Her research interests include restorative justice, restorative practices in educational settings, gender specific programming for youth, juvenile justice, public policy, and program evaluation. Dr. Pavelka’s greatest accomplishments are her three children: Lauren, Breann, and Conner.

Residential Update

Okaloosa Youth Development Center (OYDC), a high-risk residential program for males, ages 13 to 18, which is operated by Gulf Coast Youth Services, announced a few new additions to the family last week:  bunnies!  Please meet the program’s new rabbits:  Thor, Athena, Rhea and Iris.

They are adjusting well so far to their new homes and OYDC is proud of the work the young men did to make this possible.  The boys were given the task to build housing enclosures for the bunnies.  They did an exceptional job in accomplishing this task.

The rabbits now have personal shelters.  In the coming weeks, the residents will build an additional and larger enclosure where the rabbits can romp around during various times throughout the day, playing, roaming and grazing.

The youths will be selected for Rabbit Care positions in which they will ensure that the rabbits have food and water and that their cages are kept clean.  Additionally, all of the residents will participate in training sessions on how to care for and interact with the rabbits so that interested youth can participate in supervised interactions with Thor, Athena, Rhea and Iris. 

Hopefully the four bunnies don’t discover the carrots that are growing in the garden at the program!

Residents of the Cypress Creek Juvenile Offender Correctional Center (Cypress Creek) have been given an incredible learning opportunity through the G4S/DJJ College Lab.  Cypress Creek is a maximum-risk program for males, ages 13 to 21. 

The College Lab opened with an astonishing number of first semester freshmen.  The administration at Cypress Creek created a post-secondary learning environment to accommodate nine students.  Students are afforded the opportunity to communicate with college advisors, tutors, financial aid administrators, etc. 

Students are currently enrolled in a variety of colleges, including Palm Beach State College, Tallahassee Community College, Florida State College at Jacksonville, and Pensacola Community College.

Certified Public Manager Applications

The Office of Staff Development & Training (SD&T) is pleased to announce the beginning of the application period for the DJJ 2014-16 certified public manager (CPM) class. The CPM program is administered by the Florida Center for Public Management at FSU. The two-year CPM program is designed to enhance the effectiveness, efficiency and professionalism of public servants and groom them for leadership by incorporating theory and practical training. It is currently the highest level of professional development at DJJ, and is offered only to state employees. 

Please note that the CPM program requires a two-year commitment from the candidates. Students must successfully complete assignments, exams and projects. They must attend classes for one week each quarter in Tallahassee.

Applications must be received by Cina Wilson-Johnson (please copy Samadhi Jones) no later than September 1, 2014. Supervisor’s approval is required for consideration, and the completed recommendation form must accompany the application.

Please see the CPM Candidate Selection Process Overview for more information.