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Secretary's Message

August 22, 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

Florida Youth Commission Retreat

Last weekend I was honored to speak at the Florida Youth Commission’s Annual Retreat at the Pat Thomas Law Enforcement Center in Midway. The Youth Commission  is comprised of youth leaders statewide who advise the Florida Children and Youth Cabinet of key issues facing our youth. Eighteen commissioners were selected from over 100 applicants and nominees from across the state.

During this dynamic, weekend-long retreat, the commissioners were sworn-in, voted in executive board members, and began work on their agenda for the upcoming term. All the commissioners were highly engaged and enthusiastic about the year ahead for the Florida Youth Commission.

Many DJJ Employees assisted in putting on this outstanding event. I would first like to thank Cici Battle and Caitlin Camechis for working so hard in organizing this year’s commission as well as the retreat.

Other DJJ staff and stakeholders  who helped make this retreat a success include: 

Cheryl Massaro, SAG member; Ted Stratton, Florida Gubernatorial Fellows; Zack Gibson, Governor’s Office of Adoption and Child Protection; Christina Pacelle, Governor’s Office of Adoption and Child Protection; Samantha Lane, Florida YMCA Youth in Government; Sean Casey, Florida YMCA Youth in Government; Craig Swain, DJJ staff (Prevention); Chakita Jenkins, DJJ staff (Legal); Yvonne Maffia, DJJ staff (Prevention); Brent Musgrove, DJJ staff (Prevention); Warren Garrison, DJJ staff Probation); Eugene Morris, DJJ staff (Prevention); Gloria Gatlin, DJJ staff (Prevention); Cheryl Howard, DJJ staff (Prevention); Verla Lawson-Grady, DJJ staff (Prevention); Debbie Touchton, DJJ staff (Office of the Secretary); Tim Niermann, DJJ staff (Probation); Gigi Hawthorne, Florida Public Safety Institute; Ryland Moore, Florida Public Safety Institute; E.E. Eunice, Florida Public Safety Institute; Cheryl Faulk, DJJ Pat Thomas Liaison (Office of Staff Development and Training)

Human Trafficking Council Meeting

On Monday, I was proud to take part in the first Statewide Human Trafficking Council Meeting at the Capitol.  The Human Trafficking Council, chaired by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, works with law enforcement officers , prosecutors, and health, education and social services experts to fight human trafficking.

The 15-member Council was created during the 2014 Legislative Session to identify and address specific goals to combat human trafficking, including recommending comprehensive programs and services to help victims; making recommendations for certification criteria for safe houses and safe foster care homes; recommending ways to better apprehend and prosecute traffickers; and hosting a statewide policy summit.

According to a report by the U.S. Department of Justice on human trafficking incidents, 83 percent of sex trafficking victims identified in the United States were U.S. citizens. The average age that a trafficked victim is first used for commercial sex is 12–14. This issue affects us all and I am honored to serve as a member of this Council to address the systemic problem of human trafficking not only in our state, but our country.   

Probation Update

Circuit 7 SJPO Donna Easterling participated in the Back to School Bash presented by the Flagler County School Board on August 1 at Matanzas High School. Donna serves as the social service director for the Mt. Calvary Baptist Church where she and other church members set up a booth at the event to help families apply for food stamps, Medicaid and child care through ACCESS Florida. She also gave away pamphlets on bullying and how to keep kids safe. 

Circuit 16 CPO Karen Knight participated in a fund raiser for the Key West Vietnam Living Memorial on August 15. Once completed, this memorial will become a tribute to the veterans who fought so bravely in Vietnam. City and community partners were on hand and attendees were entertained by a band, a silent auction and local vendors who all donated part of their proceeds to this cause. 

Circuit 9 Reform Specialist Melinda Wesley-Nelson was a featured presenter at the Crisis Intervention Team Youth Training last week for law enforcement officers hosted by Wrap Around Orange in Orlando. Melinda conducted a presentation on Civil Citation and provided statistical information about mental health within the juvenile justice system. The three day training provided law enforcement officers with important information and strategies to increase positive outcomes for troubled youth in the school and in the community.

Circuit 1 CPO Paul Wallis spoke at the annual Bridging the Gap Crime Prevention Summit last Thursday in Pensacola. The event was sponsored by the Escambia County Sheriff’s Department. Paul provided those on hand with an overview of Civil Citation as well as the Roadmap initiatives that have been implemented to date. The presentation concluded with a question and answer session.

Probation staff from Circuit 3 participated in the Fort White Resource Center’s Open House in rural Columbia County. The event marked the opening of a shared resource center for those underserved persons in Fort White and provides a location that will allow those in need easier access to services. CPO Tom Witt and ACPO John Hancock were on hand and distributed school supplies to over 260 children. Free immunizations and physicals were also provided. 

Pictured: CPO Tom Witt and Mrs. Spradley with the Columbia County Schools.

On August 9th, JPO Shirley Vandegrift, Reform Specialist Melanie Kretzman and Secretary Specialist Laura Lampros from Circuit 8 participated in the Epic End of Summer Bash in Chiefland. The event was sponsored by the First United Methodist Church of Chiefland to help youth in the community get ready for the start of the school year. For the last six weeks, Circuit 8 Probation staff collected school supplies for the event and helped give away over 500 backpacks filled with those supplies. Two DJJ Probation youth assisted with the event and earned valuable community services hours for their efforts. 

DJJ Probation Staff in Circuit 1 have partnered with the Bridgeway Center, Inc. to establish a curriculum for Cannabis Youth Treatment (CYT). CYT represents a change in treatment from the previous psycho-educational model that was previously experienced in group treatment. The partnership began in October and since the first group completed last November CYT has seen and discharged nearly 75 youth from both ends of Okaloosa County.

DJJ and Bridgeway meet once per quarter to evaluate the progress and discuss any new concerns or ideas for improvement. Our youth have responded positively to the change and group facilitators have expressed higher satisfaction with the program. The Department truly appreciates the collaboration and spirit Bridgeway has shown in this endeavor.

Pictured l-r: Bill Orange, Clinical Services Program Manager; Jamie Tutnjevic, Managed Care Network Coordinator; Daniel Bears, JPO Supervisor; and Larry McFarland, Clinical Director

During a Community Re-Entry Team Meeting earlier this month, Circuit 6 probation staff identified a youth and family that needed assistance keeping appointments for counseling, tutoring, YMCA and drum line practice. The youth’s mother works and was unable to take off as needed to transport the youth to his activities. Enter Eckerd’s Project Bridge who provided the youth a bicycle. He is now able to attend his appointment and become involved in positive activities in the community. 

Circuit 14 ACPO Marci Reightnour and attorney John Milla from the General Counsel’s Office received a request from several military recruiters regarding youth records.  Marci and John went above and beyond by pulling together the needed information, requesting the closed records and reviewing the material to determine the appropriate information to share with the recruiter.  It is nice to have such dedicated staff working for our department and to get such positive feedback about their service.  

On August 9th, staff from Circuit 11 and the DJJ STEP (Success Through Empowerment Program) team participated in the Back to School Book Bag Giveaway in Miami Gardens.  DJJ along with city and faith leaders gave away over 700 book bags and supplies to assist those less fortunate in Miami Gardens. DJJ team members set up a display booth which allowed families to interact with our staff as well as ask questions about our agency and the services we provide.

C-11 Lana Wilcox, JPOS assisting participants.

Last Thursday, Reform Specialist Shirlon McCarty and JDAI Coordinator Kathy Demosthenes from Circuit 15 attended the Riviera Beach Back to School event for parents. The event was hosted by BRIDGES, a gathering place that connects local families to community resources. BRIDGES is a program of the Children Services Council of Palm Beach County. Twenty children and their families participated in the event where they received school supplies, uniforms and valuable information. Shirlon and Kathy gave students information regarding the effects of crime. 

Circuit 17 hosted their 5th Annual Back to School Extravaganza last Thursday at the Urban League of Broward County’s Community Empowerment Center in Ft. Lauderdale. The event focused on preparing youth for the upcoming school year as well as motivating youth to actively plan for a successful future. Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel took the opportunity to speak with the youth about positive interactions with law enforcement. Over 100 youth were in attendance which included DJJ probationers and youth from the Urban League. Each child received a backpack stuffed with school supplies.

Last Wednesday, the Faith Network held a community meeting with pastors and church members in Broward County.  The meeting was designed to develop a meaningful strategy to work together to provide services in the community for the youth we serve. Pastor Ellis from the Faith Network Chaplaincy of Miami-Dade took the opportunity to motivate and engage Broward County in developing a partnership with local churches. 

I would like to share this letter of commendation that was sent to JPO Byron Brown from Circuit 20 for going above and beyond in helping the Lutheran Services of Florida. It reads:

Good Afternoon, 

I wanted to extend my appreciation for all your assistance with the children who are currently involved with DJJ. Your help with case management matters is greatly appreciated as I know that these children can pose challenging situations. I am grateful for your ability to go above and beyond in helping with children in dependency matters. In addition, you provide a great collaboration  with case management, the court system, as well as other service providers. Your efforts and leadership abilities are acknowledged and appreciated. 


Yvette Sanchez

Prevention Update

Youth Engagement Coordinator Cici Battle addressed the Southern Scholarship Foundation (SSF) on August 13 at Florida State University. Cici discussed the importance of developing leadership skills with the SSF students. SSF is a rent-free housing scholarship foundation that helps deserving young people who lack financial resources, but demonstrate excellent academic merit and good character, attend institutions of higher education. SSF assists students at Florida A&M University, Florida State University and Tallahassee Community College in Tallahassee; University of Florida and Santa Fe College in Gainesville; and Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers. SSF has assisted more than 8,000 students over the past 50 years.

Since 2013, Kelsey Day has served as the Music Instructor for the Prodigy Cultural Arts Program at the University Area Community Development Corporation. When Kelsey Day first started with Prodigy as an Instructor Assistant at Tampa I, she never envisioned herself serving in the capacity that she does today. As the Instructor of the program’s Beginner Music Production and Violin classes, Kelsey has successfully enriched youth through her music skills and passion.

“I like the youth’s energy, it is fun to see them actually enjoy learning” says Kelsey. When the youth were asked about their experiences in both classes they spoke about how fun and exciting the classes are and how much they loved learning. One youth enthusiastically remarked “When I went into a real life music studio, it felt like I was famous”.

Kelsey’s music classes in Prodigy have helped many youth express who they are as well as kept them focused and well-rounded. It is amazing to see instructors like Kelsey Day use her talents to give back to the community.

Detention Update

I would like to thank the staff from Detention Services all across the state who continue to implement reforms that ensures Florida’s secure detention centers remain the best in the nation. Our youth and staff have worked together to design and paint the living and common areas of each of these detention centers.

The Office of Detention is providing trauma informed environments within our centers by designing soft rooms, providing pet therapy and the 8 to Great Success Skills Program. 

Taurean Sinclair, Jacksonville Journey Coordinator and Program Director for the Mayor’s Summer Jobs Program, visited the Duval RJDC to discuss career opportunities with the youth. Taurean works directly with the Mayor of Jacksonville to assist teenagers with finding jobs and selecting career paths after college. The experience was a positive one for the youth in our facility and Taurean hopes to establish a partnership with the RJDC that will continue to give youth insight about jobs and career opportunities. 

Residential Update

The Union Juvenile Residential Facility, which is operated by Sequel TSI of Florida, LLC, donated a $100 Wal-Mart gift card to one of the local churches to help support their annual “Back to School Bash.”  The church reported that the donation enabled them to provide 15 additional youths with backpacks and school supplies to start the school year this week.

Walton Youth Development Center (WYDC), 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 a couple of weeks ago:  chickens!  The program now has one rooster and 10 hens.

Thus far, the chickens are adjusting well to their new home at WYDC.  The residents who participate in the program’s career education classes taught by Home Builders International (HBI) are the ones who built the chicken coop and feeding trough for the chickens. 

The HBI participants are taking very good care of the new additions.  They make sure that the chickens are fed and given water on a daily basis.

Shown below are progressive photos of the young men in the HBI class, building the chicken coop.


The Department continues its effort to comply with the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA).  This week, the PREA website was redesigned to include training materials, assessment information, auditing tools and data collection.  Please visit the new pages found online at http://www.djj.state.fl.us/partners/prison-rape-elimination-act-(prea).

Audits for residential and detention facilities in the Central Region are in full swing. 

Congratulations to Kissimmee Juvenile Correctional Facility for passing the PREA audit.  Kerrick May and his staff are to be commended for their efforts.  Kissimmee JCF joins Les Peters Academy as the second juvenile justice program in Florida to successfully complete the PREA audit.  Great job! 

The facility currently is certified as being in compliance with all of the PREA Standards.  Those standards and tools to prepare for a PREA audit may be found on the Web at http://www.djj.state.fl.us/partners/prison-rape-elimination-act-(prea)/auditing-tools.

Certified Public Manager Applications Due September 1.

Applications are now being taken for the 2014-16 certified public manager (CPM) class. This competitive professional development opportunity helps DJJ employees develop management and leadership skills. 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.

Click here for more information about the application process. For details about the CPM program, please visit the Florida Center for Public Management at FSU.