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Secretary's Message

September 19, 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

JJSIP Rollout

On Monday and Tuesday, the Juvenile Justice Systems Improvement Project (JJSIP) rolled out in Circuit 1, with a meeting of the stakeholders from Escambia and Santa Rosa counties on Monday and training for the DJJ probation and commitment staff for all of Circuit 1 on Tuesday.  More than 70 stakeholders attended the meeting on Sept. 15, and approximately 60 DJJ staff members attended the training on Sept. 16. 

At both meetings, the national perspective of systems improvement was provided by Marion Kelly from Georgetown University.  The theory and research behind the comprehensive strategy and the use of the Disposition Matrix, as well as placement and practice data, were presented by Director of Research & Planning Mark Greenwald, M.J.P.M., and Senior Research Associate Michael Baglivio, Ph.D.  Mark and Mike also trained staff on the continuum of services and the practical application of the Disposition Matrix when making a recommendation of services for a youth in the juvenile justice system.

The next step in the JJSIP rollout process will be a training that includes case studies with DJJ staff and key stakeholders who work with juvenile justice youth to learn how to analyze those cases and to apply the Disposition Matrix to each.  

(Shown Right)  Marion Kelly, Mark Greenwald and Mike Baglivio confer about the presentation on Monday

(Shown Left)  Assist. Sec. of Residential Services Laura Moneyham and Circuit 1 Chief Probation Officer Paul Wallis made opening remarks at the stakeholders meeting.  Many thanks to Paul who organized the meetings for the JJSIP rollout in Circuit 1.  

(Shown Right)  Among the 70 stakeholders who attended the JJSIP rollout were Circuit 1 Judges.  Shown here (L-R) are The Hon. J. Scott Duncan, The Hon. Michael G. Allen, and The Hon. Ross Bilbrey, looking at the screen 

Shown Left)  The JJSIP Rollout in Circuit 1 was the result of combined efforts from probation, residential, research and planning, and technical assistance staff.  (L-R):  Assist. Sec. Probation & Community Intervention Tim Niermann, Ass. Sec. Residential Services Laura Moneyham, Circuit 1 Chief Probation Officer Paul Wallis, Santa Rosa County Sheriff Wendell Hall, and Residential Services North Regional Director Mary Mills paused for a group photo, during stakeholders’ meeting the break.

(Shown Right, L-R) North Regional Director Probation & Community Intervention Jill Bessette, Assist. Sec. Probation & Community Intervention Tim Niermann, Ass. Sec. Residential Services Laura Moneyham, Residential Service Northwest Regional SMA-II Lori Jernigan, and Residential Services North Regional Director Mary Mills paused for a group photo, after the stakeholders’ meeting while folks still enjoyed time to get to know each other better.

(Shown Left) Director of Research & Planning Mark Greenwald held everyone’s attention as he explained the demographic breakdown on the types of youth commitments in residential settings currently versus historical placements.  

The Department extends many thanks to Escambia County School District Transition Coordinator Ken Myers—who also serves as the chair of the Circuit 1 Juvenile Justice Board—for providing the board meeting room (shown above) at the JE Hall Center on East Texar Drive in Pensacola for both days.  It was an ideal setting to comfortably seat the 70 stakeholders and 60 DJJ staff members for both days of the JJSIP rollout. Stakeholders included Circuit 1 judges, members of various county law enforcement agencies, members of the Escambia County School Board, representatives from the ACLU, DCF and their providers, DJJ providers, the State’s Attorney’s Office, the Public Defender’s Office, and several members of the local counties sheriff’s offices, as well as child-focused services agencies from the area.

Prevention Update

Prevention Services Manager Michael Jacobs and Delinquency Prevention Specialists Lydia Breaux-Davis, Onazina Washington, Pat McGhee, Tina Levene and Marie Boswell participated in a retreat last week in Orlando to discuss strategic planning, goals, objectives, statewide engagement and long-term planning for prevention services. The training was facilitated by Jacqui Clark-Hagan, Professional Development Coordinator in the Bureau of Staff Development & Training. 

In the photo, Delinquency Prevention Specialists enjoy a lighthearted moment after a long day of hard work during their two-day retreat.  

Last Tuesday, Statewide DMC Coordinator Josh Kuch, Faith Network Coordinator Craig Swain, Federal Grants Coordinator Juliet Westmoreland, Federal Grants Manager Yvonne Woodard and SAG Member Alan Abramowitz attended the Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention compliance monitoring site visit at the Leon RJDC and the Disc Village Juvenile Assessment Center. G4S Youth Services, LLC.,FDJJ  Compliance Monitor, held its September 2014 site visits to watch, observe, and ensure that the goals of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 2002 are met, which include:

  • deinstitutionalization of status and non-offenders
  • no sight or sound contact between adult and youth offenders in adult jails, lockups or institutions
  • to remove juveniles from adult jails and lockups

SAG members and DJJ staff accompanied Pete Zeegers, G4S Contract Manager, during the site visits that included a facility tour, file review, and meetings with LRDC Superintendent, Cody Wood, and JAC Director, Lisa Sherry

Circuit 1 Faith Network Staff hosted a Faith Volunteer Chaplaincy Training last Saturday in Niceville. The purpose of which was to recruit and encourage members of the faith community to actively participate in the department’s prevention efforts. The training informed faith community representatives about opportunities and programs needed to prevent youth from entering the system as well as prevent youth from going deeper into the juvenile justice system.

Capital City Youth Services (CCYS) held a Partners Strategic Planning meeting last month with DJJ, the United Way and the Florida Network of Youth and Family Services. Stakeholders met to discuss ways to increase collaboration with partners and effectively serve youth in their programs. They also reviewed service needs for youth within the CCYS program area, examined current services for youth and determined how to promote the services to the community. Their goal is to increase community awareness of the services available for youth and also to examine the service needs and/or lack of services for youth within the community. Prevention Procurement Specialist Brent Musgrove attended on behalf of Prevention Services.

Probation Update

DJJ youth from the Panama City Marine Institute participated in the AMIkids 2014 White Water Rafting and Rappelling Challenge Event last week in North Carolina. This event gave hundreds of AMIkids students from across the region the opportunity to put aside their personal trials and life struggles to do what kids do best which is having fun. The youth from Panama City won the “best skit” award (see below) while at the event. Teamwork, camaraderie, passion, and history were among the core requirements of the trip.

Circuit 16 CPO Karen Knight and JPOS Paul Armstrong received the Teaming Up for Change Award from DCF Secretary Mike Carroll during the recent DCF Dependency Summit in Orlando. Karen and Paul were presented with these awards on Monday during the Circuit Advisory Board Meeting in Key West. This award was given to teams that worked together with other agencies or entities that was deemed successful. Other team members included Guardian Ad Litem, the Wesley House Family Services and Our Kids of Miami-Dade/Monroe Inc. 

A youth participating in the north region’s post-commitment transition services program, Project Connect, was the recent recipient of a brand new computer through Project Connect’ s Computers in Transition Program.  Through a strategic partnership with HP computers, Project Connect was able to donate the computer to the youth through his demonstration of ability, need and steadfast dedication to completion of his computer-based education, vocation and employability skills training while successfully completing the Project Connect post-commitment transition program.  The youth is enrolled in the GED program at Lake Tech in Circuit 5 and uses the computer to complete GED prep work.  He did not have access to a computer at home and did not have the funds to buy one so Project Connect provided one throughout his transition.  He is a father and works full time while taking GED classes.  During the transition program, he completed his Safe Staff food handling certification through Project Connect using the HP computer and was promoted to a cook at his current job receiving a $2.00/Hr. raise!  He is on track to obtain his GED by the beginning of November and plans on going to college for mechanical engineering or an auto body repair certification.  He has worked extra hard since being in Project Connect and has been willing and readily available to work on all of his goals while balancing work, school, probation and being a father.  We are equal parts proud and humbled by this young man’s accomplishments and are glad to have the Project Connect’s HP Computers in Transition Program in place to help him pursue his dreams even after transition services are no longer needed. 

Persons in the picture, left to right, are; Project Connect Transition Specialist Jennifer Leusby, Youth AA and Circuit 5 JPO Nicola Taylor.  

JPO Supervisor Delores Richardson shared the following email that a parent sent to Senior JPO Donna Oliver. It reads:

Officer Oliver, 

I have heard that my son has completed his probation.  I just wanted to send a quick note of thanks with the professionalism in which you handled the case.  I appreciated your concern regarding his future and continue successes.  He and I are doing very well. He is doing great at soccer and is becoming acclimated to his new school.  I am very optimistic about his future. 

Thanks again.

CPO Jill Wells was presented a memory frame by Secretary Specialist Laura Lampros last week during a celebration of Jill’s service. Jill has taken a new position as the CPO in Circuit 9 and the staff from Circuit 8 held a luncheon to congratulate and thank Jill for her years of service to Circuit 8. Laura designs the frames customized for special events and awards in the circuit.

Randy Campbell, Paxen’s Regional Program Manager, shared this encouraging success story:

Meet David.  David was committed to the Paxen Community Connections Program in Hillsborough County.  He successfully completed Paxen’s program and was terminated from commitment.  While at Paxen, David completed Thinking For a Change, earned his GED, got a full time job and registered for computer classes at a local college.  He has high aspirations and a lot of support from the Paxen team.  Way to go David!

Youth from the Manatee County Paxen program spent a recent afternoon at the local library to focus on library resources. The youth learned about all of the different resources that the local library has to offer and completed a library scavenger hunt.


Circuit 9 Reform Specialist Melinda Wesley-Nelson attended a Community Forum entitled “Youth and Law Enforcement” last week at the FAMU College of Law in Orlando. The event served as an open dialogue between law enforcement, community leaders, and the public and was centered on gang violence, law enforcement practices, community involvement and relationship building. The event was sponsored by the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

On Monday, Probation staff from Circuit 11 held its fifth graduation ceremony for the Success Through Empowerment Program (STEP). Circuit Judge Angelica Zayas served as the guest speaker to the 25 graduates and their families in attendance. The youth were presented with certificates and token gifts for Perfect Attendance, Best Essay, and Most Turned Around.

Pinellas County and the Sixth Judicial Circuit Court applied and was selected to participate in The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) the School Pathways to the Juvenile Justice System Project.  A group of about 30 stakeholders attended a day and half NCJFCJ technical assistance meeting facilitated by Judge Steve Teske, a national leader in juvenile justice reforms, and David LaBahn President and CEO of the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys.

The Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative (JDAI) Executive Committee and their School Referral Subcommittee are working to develop a plan to reduce referrals of youth to juvenile courts for school-based misbehaviors, and to expand the use of positive disciplinary practices in schools. The goal is to support student engagement and reduce students’ school exclusion.  This project is going to build upon efforts lead by Pinellas County School Board Police Chief Rick Stelljes.   There was much excitement and enthusiasm to work collaboratively on this effort.

The Fourth Judicial Circuit Court in Duval County launched the brand new Girls Court on Wednesday. Girls Court, spearheaded by Judge David Gooding, provides an opportunity for each individual girl to address the underlying issues that have influenced their decision making processes that contributed their involvement with the juvenile justice system.

Each girl that is referred to the Girls Court will be provided specialized services through the Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center. Girls Court is the result of a combined effort by Judge David Gooding, State Attorney’s Office, Public Defender’s Office, Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center, Florida Support Services, Department of Children and Families, and our agency.

Pictured below from left to right is the Girls Court Development Committee:  Kara Williams, Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center; Brooke Brady (Assistant State Attorney); Gwen Steverson, CPO; Rachel Heindenberg , Public Defender; Sarah Smith, Family Support Services; Rachel Hillegass, SJPO; JonMeliah Verdell, JPO; Jenna Kramer, Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center; Dr. Lawanda Ravoira, Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center; Not Pictured:  Judge David Gooding and Emily Guzman, SJPO.

 Detention Update

Last week we covered the Office of Detention Services Administration meeting for Superintendents and Supervisors. During that meeting, Major Joseph Seeber at Broward RJDC was awarded the Superintendent of the Year for the South Region. When he returned home however, the youth and staff at Brevard presented him with his greatest award as he was recognized and appreciated with cards, letters and well wishes from everyone at the facility. Praise and appreciation from a child is the greatest recognition of all.

Last weekend, the staff at Leon RJDC rewarded those young ladies who achieved a level three through the behavior management system. These girls received a “spa day,” where they were given the opportunity to pamper themselves and paint their nails. Each of the young ladies had a fabulous time!

I would like to thank our staff at the Brevard RJDC for their quick care and attention for a young puppy named Clover from the Teens Assisting Puppies Program at the facility. Clover was attacked by a stick bug, and needed immediate treatment. The Pixel Fund, which sponsors TAPS, posted this amazing story on their Facebook page. 


I would like to congratulate Patricia Head, a Registered Nurse with the Southwest RJDC, on her pending retirement. Pat has worked for the state for over 24 years including the last ten plus with our agency. Pat has been our teacher, our mentor, and our expert when it came to medical issues in the South Region.  We wish her all the best in retirement!

Pictured:  Asst. Superintendent Mary Pagano,(Southwest) Superintendent Lawanna Tynes,(Collier) Pat Head, Assistant Superintendent Jessica Mederos , (Collier), Superintendent Dennis Driscoll (Southwest)

Residential Update

PREA Update

The Department continues its effort to comply with the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA).  Last week, Frances Walker Halfway House and Brevard Group Treatment Home joined the ranks of juvenile justice programs in Florida to successfully complete the PREA audit.  Great job!  Please visit the website for more information:  http://www.djj.state.fl.us/partners/prison-rape-elimination-act-(prea).

The students at Dade Juvenile Residential Facility—a nonsecure program for males ages 13 to 18, which is operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC—enjoyed an end of summer school awards assembly.  Students were recognized for their academic achievements by the program’s team of teachers from the Miami-Dade County School District.  Several students received awards that included certificates and ribbons.  

Upon completion, all award recipients were treated to a special meal with the teachers and invited to enjoy some fun and games inside the school building.  The event was a success and provided the residents with an opportunity to interact with their teachers outside of the traditional classroom environment. 

The staff and administration of the Okeechobee Girls Academy (OGA)—a nonsecure program for females ages 13 to 18, which is operated by G4S—works diligently to ensure that the residents receive the services, skills and tools they need to successfully transition home as positive, law abiding, and well-mannered young ladies.  Part of that process is being an OWL at OGA. 

The Outstanding Women of Learning (OWLs) had an outstanding summer.  This summer, a total of 26 report cards were issued.  Of those students who received report cards, 50% of the students were promoted to the next grade level.  Five students (19%) made the “Lead Teacher’s List” by maintaining an “A” in all of their subjects; nine (35%) achieved “Honor Roll” status by maintaining all A’s and B’s.  Four students (15%) graduated from the Home Builder’s Institute, earning Pre-Apprenticeship Certification.  More than 15 girls (58%) earned SafeStaff Food Safety Certification prior to leaving the program, returning to their home communities.

Over the summer trimester, three OWLs (12%) rose up, above and beyond the rest, passing the GED® examination and earning high school diplomas.  That’s one graduate a month since on-site testing started! 

August’s graduate was more than four years behind in school when she entered OGA.  Through perseverance and tenacity, she sought solutions for the gaps in her education.  She studied daily for hours after school to make her dream a reality and it paid off!  Everyone at OGA is particularly proud of the August graduate.  Not only did she earn her diploma but she also earned a full scholarship through CareerSource Florida to earn her nursing degree.  Additionally, she secured employment to begin working as soon as she leaves the program.  This is one OWL who plans to soar into her future and succeed just as she has done at OGA.

World Suicide Prevention Day is observed on September 10 each year to promote worldwide action to prevent suicides.  Kissimmee Juvenile Correctional Facility (KJCF)—a secure program for males ages 14 to 18, which is operated by Sequel TSI of Florida, LLC—also observed this the day by wearing a yellow ribbon or shirt to enhance awareness.  The personnel at KJCF discussed awareness to prevent suicide, educate students on suicide, and discussed the importance of having a support group within the facility, in the community, and at home to discuss suicide prevention methods.

The students and staff watched the video To Write Love on Her Arms about a young lady that successfully completed treatment for depression.  As a method to prevent her suicidal behaviors, she wrote “Love” on her arms.  The word “Love” reminded her that she is a lovely person no matter what negative outcomes may occur in her personal life.

The residents and staff of KJCF created their own Circle of “Love” (shown above) to signify that no matter what youth in residential facilities across the nation are dealing with they must “Love” themselves.