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Secretary's Message

September 12, 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 Missing Children’s Day

On Monday, I attended a recognition breakfast in honor of Florida Missing Children’s Day on the 22nd floor of the Capitol Building. Celebrating its 15th year, Florida Missing Children’s Day brings parents, children, law enforcement officers, and citizens together to remember Florida's missing children who are still missing and those who will never come home again. The objective of this day is to raise awareness on Florida’s current missing children, to educate the public on child safety and abduction prevention, and to honor those individuals and law enforcement officers for their unwavering efforts in missing children investigations. 

Florida Network Meeting

Monday afternoon, I met with several board members from the Florida Network at DJJ Headquarters in Tallahassee. An informative and productive discussion was held regarding future plans for CINS/FINS and how we can better collaborate with each other.

The Florida Network is a non-profit statewide association of agencies which serve runaway, truant, ungovernable, and other troubled youth and their families. This population is defined by the statute as Children and Families in Need of Services or CINS/FINS.  

Wednesday and Thursday, I was on the road in Pensacola and Panama City, Circuits 1 and 14 respectively, to meet with stakeholders and probation staff including JPOs, JPOSs and SJPOs. Pictured above left is our meeting with staff in Circuit 1, and pictured right, staff from Circuit 14. Both meetings consisted of discussions regarding community needs and our continued reform efforts, including initiatives that were working well and also challenges we still face.  I would like to thank all of the staff in both circuits that participated in these meetings and for sharing their insight and knowledge.  

Detention Superintendents’ Meeting

This week, the Office of Detention Services held an Administrative Training for  detention superintendents and other administrative staff at the Betty Easley Conference Center in Tallahassee. I was honored to speak to our hard working detention staff on Tuesday, the first day of the training. Among the topics discussed were the Prison Rape Elimination Act or PREA, Detention Cost Share, Behavior Management and PAR and Pet Therapy. I would like to thank Assistant Secretary Julia Strange and her staff for all of their hard work to make this training a success. On the final day, the Assistant Secretary’s Awards of Excellence were given out and we will highlight those distinguished employees in the Detention Update.

DJJ Employee of the Month 

I am pleased to honor Circuit 6 OMC II Frank Donnelly as DJJ’s July Employee of the Month.  Frank is truly an asset to our agency with his willingness to go above and beyond to help out his fellow employees when needed.  Frank wears many hats for our department and is always diligent in his efforts to complete tasks in a timely and cost effective manner. We would like to thank Frank for his hard work and dedication to our agency and the youth and families we serve. 

Please join me in congratulating Frank on this tremendous honor!

Our agency is fortunate to have many exceptional candidates for Employee of the Month and having to choose can be a difficult task that can delay our process. Please check back soon as we look forward to highlighting the Employee of the Month for August in the near future.  We can never have too many deserving nominees though so I would like to remind everyone to please keep sending in your nominations for the monthly DJJ Employee of the Month Award! You can do so by clicking here

Georgetown Fellowship Diversion Program

Director of Research and Planning Mark Greenwald, Director of Special Projects Brenda Posthumus, Central Region Probation Director Cathy Lake and Statewide Reform Coordinator Kara Ahern traveled to Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. this week to participate in a fellowship program related to diversion. Through the work of this fellowship, the department will be better equipped to implement new or improve existing juvenile diversion programming.  Improvements to diversion programs are a huge piece of the Roadmap to System Excellence and will assist in reductions of the use of formal processing and incarceration and avoiding wasteful spending.  The fellowship should foster the creation of more opportunities to reduce the collateral consequences youth encounter from exposure to the juvenile justice system, and improve outcomes for youth and families.

Prevention Update

Living Stones International, operated by Pastor Gary Montgomery and his wife, Josephine; the Montgomery’s co-sponsored the Southside Food Giveaway on August 23 at the Harvey’s parking lot on Tallahassee’s Southside. The free giveaway was also co-sponsored by the Honorable Alan B. Williams, District 8, Florida House of Representatives; the Neighborhood Medical Center and Cumulus Media.

Forty-two volunteers including college students, agencies, schools, businesses, and concerned citizens assisted with this worthwhile project. Also on hand were vendors, the Neighborhood Medical Center, Bond Community Health Center, and The Living Harvest. Living Stones is a children and family outreach organization hosting quarterly special bonding visits between children and their incarcerated parents. Living Stones also offers after school tutoring program, and mentoring.

September marks National Ovarian Cancer Awareness month and accordingly I would like to recognize Procurement Specialist Becky Bodie. Becky is a cancer survivor and as of September 24 will be six years cancer free. To help keep motivated, Becky remembers two quotes daily: “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.” – Ambrose Redmoon. The other is “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do” – Eleanor Roosevelt.

Teal is the supporting color for ovarian cancer and people are asked to wear, decorate or do anything with teal. For more information concerning ovarian cancer, click here and here

Last Thursday, Delinquency Prevention Specialist Lydia Breaux-Davis volunteered with Pensacola State College at the Deployment to Employment Career Fair at the Sanders Beach Community Center in Pensacola. In its third year of supporting local veterans, 90works and Nancy’s Haute Affairs hosted the “Deployment to Employment” career expo.  The free expo featured 52 vendors providing veterans’ benefits resources, resume building stations, and information workshops. Veterans could either bring a draft of their resume or start a new one with help from volunteers from the writing department at the University of West Florida. In addition to the workshops, the expo provided free haircuts and clothing to veterans.

Vendors included the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office, Navy Federal, City of Pensacola, Emerald Coast Utilities Authority, Gulf Power and Baptist Hospital. Available jobs included skilled craftsmen in maritime construction, account executives, RN’s, law enforcement, cyber security, clerical and administrative positions. 

Community Engagement Coordinator Verla Lawson-Grady set up a DJJ display table at the Second Annual MY Fest event last Saturday at Cascades Park in Tallahassee. MY Fest was a free music, art, entertainment and youth empowerment festival planned by MY LIFE Tallahassee to raise awareness about mental health, substance abuse, foster care and other issues facing youth and young adults in Florida. Prevention and Probation coordinated the combined DJJ display.

Special kudos goes to Selena Boles, Detention, and Onazina Washington III, Prevention Specialist, who volunteered to cover the display for Verla while she coordinated all volunteers at the event. Additionally, a special thanks to Minnie Bishop, Chief Probation Officer; Elizabeth Phillips, Reform Specialist; Kara Ahearn, Reform Specialist and Morgan Assidy, JPO, who set up a display and shared the table with Prevention. Thanks also to Barbara Campbell, Quality Improvement, who volunteered to monitor youth at this event.

 (from left to right) Verla Lawson-Grady (seated at center), Greg Dicharry, Youth Empowerment Director, Magellan Health Services, based in Phoenix, Arizona and chief organizer of My Fest Tallahassee; A.V. Mitchell, inspirational artist, speaker, of Baton Rouge, La.  Surrounding them are volunteers from the Florida A&M University College of Pharmacy.  An extra special thank you to the students of College of Pharmacy. Over 100 students volunteered throughout the day.  Approximately 1,500 people attended My Fest Tallahassee.

Faith Partners and current Faith Network members Reverend James Watkins and Pastor Cindy Lane from the United Methodist Church and the African Methodist Episcopal Church of Lakeland respectively discussed plans to start a mentoring program for at-risk youth. The United Methodist Church and the African Methodist Episcopal Church identified a need for their churches to become more involved in juvenile justice. In their first step to engaging the DJJ and youth, they have decided that every church connected to them in Florida (over 1,000 Churches) will mentor at least two incarcerated youth and assist in the transitioning youth back into the community. This initiative is titled “No More Throw Away Kids”

DJJ’s Faith Network in Circuit 1 hosted a faith volunteer and Chaplaincy training last Saturday in Niceville. The purpose of this training was to recruit and encourage the faith community to actively participate in the department’s prevention efforts. This training gave the faith community the tools needed to prevent youth from entering our system and prevent youth from going deeper into the juvenile justice system.

On Tuesday, Federal Assistant Gloria Gatlin and Delinquency Prevention Specialist Onazina Washington III conducted a site visit at the After School Assistance Program, a DJJ Prevention Provider, in Panama City.

The After School Assistance Program (ASAP) was established in 1993 in the urban housing complex of Pana Villa Apartment in Panama City. This site was selected in response to the need to address the increasing problems of juvenile crime and the rising dropout rate for middle and high school age children in the community. The age group for boys and girls, ages 6-16. ASAP’s program is the only daily after school care program in Bay County providing services to the children in the community in which they live. ASAP is also the only afterschool program in Bay County operating and providing services through partnership involving law enforcement, juvenile justice, school board, social services and community-based components.

(from left to right): Director of ASAP, Terri Gainer, and Assistant ASAP Director, LaKisha Ward

Probation Update

Probation staff from Circuit 9 partnered with Home Builders Institute, AMI and the Oaks Program to host the 2nd Annual Back to School Barbeque entitled “Knowledge is Power,” on August 16 at the DJJ Probation Office in Orange County.

Staff held several fund raisers leading up to the event which not only provided our youth the opportunity to earn community service hours, but helped DJJ provide school supplies and raffle prizes to the youth in attendance. The goal for this event was to prepare our youth for the upcoming school year. The event was a fun environment filled with music, food, field games and community partnerships which facilitated the youth’s engagement toward their academic career. 


Circuit 20 Reform Specialist Lut Clarcq was the featured guest speaker at the Collier County Continuum of Care-Employment Services Subcommittee last Thursday in Naples. Lut shared the Department’s Roadmap to System Excellence and other reform efforts through Civil Citation and transitional services. Lut also emphasized the importance of other agency engagement in Collier County and collaboration to have community awareness. 

Last Thursday, JPOs Tonya Emsweller, Charlotte Palmer, Charnisha Palmore and Secretary Specialist Nishia McGraw from Circuit 13 volunteered and participated in the 23rd Annual Gourmet Feastival  at the Centre for Women in Tampa.

For more than 20 years, this event through its sponsors, ticket sales, and auctions has been instrumental in providing additional funds to enable the Centre for Women to continue to offer innovative and quality services to the community.   The Centre for Women continues to serve over 3,000 individuals who turn to them for help each year.

Probation staff from Circuit 16 held a community conversation last Thursday at the Monroe County Public Library in Key Largo. JPOS Paul Armstrong provided those in attendance with an overview of the Department and the process youth and families will go through once contact is made. Reform Specialist Elaine Thompson spoke on the Roadmap and other probation and prevention services. Parents were shown the family engagement video and were given time for questions afterwards. JPO Andrew Weader and Administrative Assistant Lisa Shaw were also on hand to provide assistance during the event. Circuit 16 will hold another community conversation on Tuesday from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m. at the Public Library in Marathon.

Last week during the DCF Summit in Orlando, ACPO Johnny Alderman and JPO Latrice Glenn were recognized by DCF Interim Secretary Mike Carroll for their exceptional work to provide assistance and support to the family of a youth diagnosed with brain cancer. Johnny and Latrice partnered up with members of DCF staff to help this young person. 

 I would like to share the following success story regarding a former probationary youth in our care. Derrick Graham came into contact with DJJ for the first time when he was ten years old. After his second contact with our agency his family decided that Derrick needed to get away from the negative environment and relocated him to Hardee County to live with his adult brother.

Since that time Derrick has completely turned his life around for the better. He has maintained the conditions of his probation and has excelled in athletics at Hardee Senior High School where he has participated in football, basketball and track. Derrick’s transformation, coupled with his supreme talent for athletics has earned him full scholarship offers from seven universities including the University of Florida and Mississippi State just to name a few. I would like to congratulate Derrick for his remarkable turnaround and wish him nothing but success!

Detention Update

Earlier this week, the Okaloosa RJDC welcomed Christian Rapper Mynista who made a special visit with the youth in our facility. Mynista was recently featured on the 700 Club where he shared his testimony. Mynista, who spent time in a Juvenile Detention Center as a boy, made a strong impact on the facility.

To view Mynista’s segment from the 700 Club, click here

I would like to congratulate the following employees who were honored Thursday with the Employee of the Year Awards and the Assistant Secretary’s Awards of Excellence Thursday during the  Detention Administrative Training Conference at the Betty Easley Conference Center in Tallahassee.

  • Ariel Veguilla from the Marion Juvenile Detention Center won the Juvenile Detention Officer Supervisor of the Year Award
  • Superintendent Paul Finn from the Volusia Juvenile Detention Center took home the Superintendent of the Year Award
  • Irma Terry from the Volusia Juvenile Detention Center won the Assistant Superintendent of the Year Award
  • Lionel Gilberts (not pictured) from the Pinellas Juvenile Detention Center took home the JJDO I Employee of the Year Award
  • Pamela Reddick (not pictured) from St. Lucie RJDC won the JJDO II Employee of the Year Award
  • Administrative Assistant Vanessa Cohen (not pictured) from the Monroe Juvenile Detention Center won the Support Worker of the Year
  • Jack Finley from Detention HQ took home the Assistant Secretary’s Award of Excellence for “Going the Extra Mile.”
  • The Duval RJDC won the Assistant Secretary’s Award of Excellence for the Most Improved Facility
  • Superintendent V. Dyanne Alves from the Brevard RJDC won the Assistant Secretary’s Award for Excellence for Outstanding Achievement
  • Superintendent Daryl Wolf from the Miami-Dade RJDC also won the Assistant Secretary’s Award for Excellence for Outstanding Achievement
  • Four of our facilities won Awards for Excellence in recognition of their commitment to the 2013/14 Quality Improvement Annual Compliance Review. They are: Volusia JDC, Miami-Dade RJDC, Okaloosa RJDC and Monroe RJDC

Residential Update

In August, the youth at Bartow Youth Academy—a nonsecure program for males ages 14 to 18, which is operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC—provided community service at The Mission Homeless Shelter.

While at the Shelter, the boys helped serve the under-privileged and they helped build the hydroponic equipment for The Mission Garden.   

At Columbus Juvenile Residential Facility—nonsecure program for males ages 10 to 18, which also is operated by G4S—the boys have successfully completed and are operating the Aquaponics Program. 

Aquaponics is a food production system that grows plants and fish together, combining aquaculture and hydroponics (plants grown in water) in a mutually beneficial environment.  A well done ecosystem helps both the plants and the aquatic animals thrive.  The ultimate goal of hydroponics is to have a self-sufficient food production program.  In short, it is a fish tank that doubles as a vegetable garden.

The Aquaponics Program was created in coordination with the education department’s Hillsborough County School District teachers.  The development and running of the system is very important for the residents for several reasons.  

The Aquaponics Program teaches the boys about ownership and responsibility for other living things.  It helps each youth gain hands-on knowledge of nature—the Earth sciences—and how it is possible to have a bountiful harvest in life.  In addition, the students learn the cycle of life and how important it is to maintain and be a part of something so vital.  Finally, each resident gets to be a part of something that is positive, brings hope, and has lasting results.

On August 5 at Discovery Church in Cocoa, FL, Brevard Group Treatment Home (BGTH)—a nonsecure program for males ages 12 to 15, located in Cocoa, FL, which is operated by Aspire Health Partners—held its inaugural Recognition Banquet for staff, community advisory board members/volunteers, and former youth.  The community members were recognized for their invaluable contributions to BGTH and awards were presented for Volunteer of the Year, Essential Piece, Making the Difference and Above and Beyond.  Staff were recognized for Employee of the Year, Above and Beyond, Making a Difference, Leading by Example, Shining Star and the coveted Director’s Award.  

Pictured Right:  Left is Christy Suehle, center is an emotional Linda Wimberly who is considered the program “Grandma” and right is Joseph Nixon, BGTH Director

The teachers from Brevard Public Schools were recognized with a special Teamwork award presented by BGTH Director Joseph Nixon.  In addition, two youth who have been home for more than a year after completing the program were selected by a panel of BGTH staff for sustaining excellence in the community and were rewarded handsomely with a monetary gift from BGTH. 

There was an incredible turnout of about 100 people, including staff, family, and friends of the current youth at BGTH.  The highlights included the Volunteer of the Year Recipient Linda Wimberly for her outstanding work with the Men of Distinction Program, Employee of the Year Award Recipient Cheryl Burchfield, Director’s Award Recipient Mia Bell, and most notably youth P.A. who was the keynote speaker.

Youth P.A., who was honored for excellence, stole the show by speaking to the youth of BGTH about his post-commitment journey and how he wished he took his treatment more seriously despite doing well.  P.A. admonished the boys of BGTH to appreciate the incredible team at BGTH and to maximize the opportunities to improve.

Joseph acknowledged all BGTH staff for the fantastic work they did with the youth over the past year and provided them all with gifts and certificates of appreciation.  The food, the experience and the atmosphere was one to remember but more importantly, the youth walked away motivated by the keynote speaker.  Some of the youth said that they wanted to be recognized in the future and will make sure they remain crime-free once they have completed their treatment at BGTH.

Pictured Above:  Youth honoree P.A. served as the keynote speaker.

At the Juvenile Unit for Specialized Treatment (JUST) campus where the Twin Oaks Academy II (TOVA-II) program is co-located, Clinical Coordinators Lindsay Wahila and Chelsea Plotner have been working with TOVA-II youth to complete a mural project in the cafeteria.  JUST and TOVA-II are nonsecure programs for males that are both operated by Twin Oaks Juvenile Development, Inc. in rural Sumatra, Fla.  JUST serves young men ages 13 to 17, whereas TOVA-II serves boys ages 10 to 13.  

This teambuilding exercise was used to foster self-confidence, encourage communication and positive collaboration, create cohesion, and help beautify the environment.  The youth were encouraged to brainstorm ideas for the painting.  They were asked to consider things they enjoy about the program and what they think would be important to include that demonstrates the transition that occurs during a placement here.

The final product includes campers at each level of the program, whether they are just starting out or about to go home.  Education and vocation opportunities are also emphasized as necessary and supportive of successful progress.  Overall, the youth genuinely enjoyed this experience.  They seemed to gain self-confidence and even problematic groups were able to effectively work together to complete the project.

Juvenile Probation Officer Graduation

Congratulations to the newest class of juvenile justice probation officers that graduated today in a ceremony at Broward College in Davie. Thanks to Circuit 17 Retired Assistant Chief Charles Bethel, for delivering the graduation address. 

JPOs ensure youths 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. 

Thanks to SD&T’s learning consultants, Christina Ash and Andrea Minnis, for leading these officers through the certification process for this position of critical responsibility. Each graduate will successfully complete 403 hours of training to become a certified officer and will serve in the city listed next to his or her name, below.

Front row (left to right): Dayhanna Rubio – Lake Worth, Bridget Rodriguez – West Palm Beach, Carla Munoz – Fort Lauderdale, Claunise Jean Louis – Miami, Shelley Carnegie – Waring – Fort Lauderdale, Venessa Ramos – West Palm Beach, Kenia Desravines – Lake Worth, Dion Westerman – Lake Worth

Middle row: Andrea Minnis – Learning Consultant, Samuel Barber – Margate, Quincy Senatus – Fort Lauderdale, Natacha Monestime – Miami, Luis Sosa – Fort Lauderdale, Kimberly Thomas – Lauderdale Lakes, Rebekah Wilson – Lake Park, Brittany Caesar – Lauderdale Lakes, Latisha Jones-Walker – Lauderdale Lakes, Christina Ash – Learning Consultant

Back row:  Rinaldi Tropnas – Lauderdale Lakes, Erik Cabrera – Miami, Junior Jean Charles – Lake Park, Christopher Seagrist – Vero Beach, Christina Fiebeck – Miami, Daniel Hodge – Margate, William Christmas, III – Ft. Pierce, Willie Cooper, III – Miami