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Secretary's Message

February 15, 2016

Secretary Daly’s Weekly Letter

Last week was a full and productive time for our agency and providers as we continued our work in serving Florida’s at-risk youth and families.  I hope you will take a moment to read the stories about the accomplishments of our agency staff, our colleagues, and the youth in our care.

As always, I am always looking for opportunities to showcase the work you do – on and off the clock – to enrich our 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. 


Christina K. Daly

2016 PACE Day at the Capitol 

In the above photo (right) from left to right: Kristin Tellis, DJJ Gubernatorial Fellow; Meredith Stanfield, Legislative Affairs Director; Verla Lawson-Grady, Community Engagement Coordinator; me; Patrice Richardson, Circuit Advisory Board Coordinator; and Heather DiGiacomo, Communications Director attend PACE Day at the Capitol.

I was honored to join PACE Center for Girls CEO Mary Marx and over 300 girls from PACE centers statewide as we observed PACE Day on February 3rd at the Florida Capitol during a ceremony on the 22nd floor. During the PACE Day activities, these remarkable young ladies held a kick-off rally, met with legislators, toured the Capitol and the Governor’s Mansion and conducted a “Believing in Girls” program that included special performances from several of the girls involved with the PACE Center for Girls.

In addition to the festivities, March is Women’s History Month in the United States and Governor Rick Scott proclaimed March to be Believing in Girls Month to support PACE who is instrumental in helping promote a better future through a caring community that believes in their value. I was honored to say a few words about the importance of girl-centered services and to read the full proclamation during the ceremony. 

 State Advisory Group Quarterly Meeting

The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention State Advisory Group (SAG) held their quarterly meeting on January 28 and 29 at DJJ Headquarters in Tallahassee. During the quarterly SAG meeting, Deputy Secretary Tim Niermann and Assistant Secretary for Prevention and Victim Services Alice Sims delivered opening remarks. Federal Grants Manager Yvonne Woodard provided updates on Federal sub-grants and compliance monitoring status.  Donnie Read, Chief Executive Officer, and Jeff McSpaddin, Director of Special Projects at Twin Oaks Development, Inc., delivered a presentation about their program.

DJJ program updates were provided by Assistant Secretary for Probation and Community Intervention Paul Hatcher and Assistant Secretary for Detention Services Dixie Fosler. Other program updates were presented by Mark Greenwald, Chief of Research and Integrity; Meredith Stanfield, Director of Legislative Affairs; Beth Davis, Bureau Chief of Contract Management and Christopher Goodman Bureau Chief of Monitoring and Quality Improvement and Laura Moneyham, Assistant Secretary for Residential Services.  

The next SAG meeting is scheduled for May in Miami.

JJSIP Update Circuit 8

On Jan. 28, in Circuit 8, approximately 30 DJJ staff members and community stakeholders participated in the Juvenile Justice System Improvement Project (JJSIP) Case Studies Training at the Alachua Regional Service Center.  The initial Case Studies Training is the final step in completing the JJSIP rollout in a judicial circuit.

The purpose of the Case Studies Training is to review individual, closed cases, determining when a youth first began having difficulties that led him into the juvenile justice system.  After the initial training, case studies in a judicial circuit become a regular meeting with all of the child-serving partners at the table.

Participants determine how the implementation of the JJSIP protocols would help a youth at a much earlier point in their lives, keeping them out of the juvenile justice system.  The goal of initiating the protocols early is to intersect a youth’s trajectory through multiple systems so that the youth is prevented from becoming a serious, violent or chronic delinquent.

Case studies were presented by Senior Juvenile Probation Officer Ashley Baird, Juvenile Probation Officer Tara Gilligan, and Juvenile Probation Officer Philip Minafield.

Participants included representatives from various community agencies, DJJ field staff, contracted service providers, staff from the River Phoenix Center for Peacebuilding, community medical, behavioral and mental health agencies, and representatives from the School Board of Alachua.

The initial stakeholder’s meeting for the Circuit 8 JJSIP rollout took place in Oct. 2015.  To read more about JJSIP, click on the following link:  http://www.djj.state.fl.us/research/latest-initiatives/juvenile-justice-system-improvement-project-(jjsip)

Shown above (L-R): DJJ Residential Services GOC-II Vanessa Wicker-Reeves, DJJ Office of Probation North Region Director Jill Clemons, DJJ Office of Probation Director of Policy and Programming Jeannie Becker-Powell, C8 Chief Probation Officer Diane Pearson, C8 Assistant Chief Probation Officer Rebecca Rogers, and DJJ Residential Services Program and Policy Coordinator Meg Bates.  

Shown right are participants of the Case Studies Training.

JJSIP Update Circuit 4

On Feb. 4 and 5, the Department rolled out the Juvenile Justice System Improvement Project (JJSIP) in Circuit 4 (Jacksonville) with three meetings.  Approximately 60 DJJ probation and residential staff members attended a training on Thursday afternoon at the local Juvenile Probation Office. The following morning, nearly 80 community stakeholders attended an educational meeting followed by a meeting with the judiciary, which included approximately 15 judges, as well as members of the State’s Attorney’s and Public Defender’s offices.  We appreciate the participation of State Attorney for the Fourth Judicial Circuit Court Angela Corey, Judge Suzanne Bass, Judge Timothy Collins, Judge Henry Davis, Judge David Gooding, Assistant State Attorney Christopher Bracken, Assistant State Attorney Brooke Brady, Assistant State Attorney Jason Kelley, Assistant Public Defender Rachel Hidenburg, and Assistant Public Defender Rob Mason from Circuit 4 at the Judiciary Meeting.  Many thanks go to Circuit 4 Chief Probation Officer Donna Webb for arranging the three meetings.  

Shown right: Secretary Christina K. Daly and CPO Donna Webb.

The meetings featured a panel of speakers that included Shay Bilchik and Marion Kelly (Georgetown University), Assistant Secretary for Residential Services Laura Moneyham, Assistant Secretary for Probation & Community Intervention Paul Hatcher, and Director of Research & Data Integrity Mark Greenwald.  It was my honor to introduce Founder & Director of the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at the Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy Shay Bilchik, J.D.  

Shay spoke to the stakeholders from a peer perspective, gave an overview of JJSIP from a national perspective, and shared the research foundations for the effectiveness of applying the principles and tools of JJSIP into everyday practice—especially in the judicial handling of a delinquency case.  After presenting the national perspective and research foundations of JJSIP, the speakers presented specifics about implementation in Florida and data relative to Circuit 4.  In total, approximately 150 people were educated about JJSIP through these interactive question and answer presentations. 

DJJ was selected as one of four states to participate in the JJSIP, a national initiative to reform the juvenile justice system by translating “what works” into everyday practice and policy.  Administered by the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform, the JJSIP provides a framework for implementing best practices throughout the entire juvenile justice system. 

To read more about JJSIP, click on the following link:  http://www.djj.state.fl.us/research/latest-initiatives/juvenile-justice-system-improvement-project-(jjsip)                

Legislative Update

Last week marked the halfway point of the 60-day legislative session. It was a productive week as we continued to meet with Senators and Representatives regarding our budget priorities. The House and Senate have both passed their respective budget, implementing and conforming bills. Because the bills are not identical, a conference committee will be appointed with representatives from both chambers to work out the differences in order to determine the state’s final budget.

The previous week, I attended the Senate Criminal Justice Committee to provide a presentation on DJJ system reform and initiatives.  This is our main policy committee in the Senate and I was pleased to share the reform work and accomplishments of the Department.

Florida Juvenile Justice Association Quarterly Board Meeting

Florida Juvenile Justice AssociationOn Wednesday I was pleased to join Deputy Secretary Tim Niermann, Chief of Staff Fred Schuknecht and Legislative Affairs Director Meredith Stanfield as we made a presentation to the Florida Juvenile Justice Association’s (FJJA) Quarterly Board Meeting at DISC Village in Tallahassee. I provided board members with an update on our reform activities including our recently submitted proposal to partner with Georgetown University’s Youth in Custody Practice Model. I also discussed the progress on improving Protective Action Response (PAR) training as well as a review of current training requirements for direct care staff. In addition, Chief of Staff Schuknecht provided an update on the status of the 2016-17 DJJ budget and the implementation of the new clearinghouse for background screening of provider staff, while Legislative Affairs Director Stanfield provided a legislative update.

FJJA is a statewide organization that strongly supports a common sense approach to juvenile justice that treats young people fairly, holds them accountable for their actions and keeps our neighborhoods, schools and communities safe.  FJJA brings together juvenile justice system professionals and agencies, organizations, and private and non-profit corporations all committed to improving Florida’s juvenile justice system for children and families.

Tallahassee Democrat: 25 Women You Need to Know

Congratulations to FJJF and longtime DJJ employee Pat Tuthill for being named one of the Tallahassee Democrat's 2016’s 25 Women You Need to Know. This prestigious distinction is given to extraordinary woman who devote themselves in various roles to better our communities. Aside from her work with our agency, Pat is also the founder of the Peyton Tuthill Foundation, which provides assistance to victims of crime,  scholarships to homicide survivors, protection of victims'  rights, and advocates for public safety through effective public policy. The Peyton Tuthill Foundation, which honors the memory of Pat’s daughter Peyton also promotes safe offender re-entry into our communities to protect families.

Congratulations again to Pat for this well-deserved honor.  To view the rest of the 2016 class, click here. 

Prevention Update

Recently, The North Carolina Outward Bound School, a DJJ prevention provider, performed ecological restoration on a variety of park lands in Lake County. During a week of staff training, a group of 30 instructors, course directors, and administrators from the Outward Bound FINS Program participated in four service projects around the Orlando Metropolitan area. The group spent five hours working at local non-profit and state-funded organizations. One group planted 136 pine trees on public lands for the Lake County Parks and Recreation to provide the area with ecological restoration.

The second group worked for The Mustard Seed, an organization whose mission is to help rebuild the lives of families and individuals who have suffered disaster or personal tragedy by providing household furnishings and clothing. The Outward Bound FINS staff spent the afternoon recycling and refurbishing mattresses and other furniture for families in need.  Still another group provided service for Kelly Springs State Park, clearing trails to assist in creating a fire break for a planned prescribed burn designed to decrease the chances of a forest fire in the future.

The fourth group worked for a local non-profit called The Sharing Center, a donation center and thrift store that focuses on providing food and other resources to those in need. The volunteers spent the afternoon sorting donations and helping the organization prepare for its annual donor recognition and celebration event.

Service is a guiding principle of the Outward Bound FINS Program and a part of their courses. Staff said it was a pleasure to have had the opportunity to integrate service into their bi-annual staff training week. NCOBS has been offering challenging outdoor programs for nearly 50 years. Their unique approach of ‘learning by doing’ taught by skilled educators has long made them the leader in outdoor education. NCOBS helps teens and their families transition their lives in more meaningful and positive directions.

Earlier this month, I brought you the story of a group of kids from Gainesville who played a surprise pick-up game with basketball legend and hall of famer Shaquille O’Neal, under the direction of Gainesville Police Chief and State Advisory Group member Tony Jones. Last weekend, these kids were given the hero’s treatment at the Amway Center in Orlando during a Magic game against the Atlanta Hawks. According to the Gainesville Sun, the Magic reached out to the Gainesville police after seeing the video, in which (GPD Officer Bobby) White handled a noise complaint about children playing basketball by shooting hoops with the kids instead of reprimanding them. The magic moment blossomed later when former NBA star and former Magic center Shaquille O'Neal dropped by GPD after seeing the video. O'Neal went with White to the neighborhood as the officer's promised backup and the two shot hoops and joked with the kids. During their Orlando visit, the kids got Magic shirts and goodie bags when they arrived at the arena and got to hang out courtside to watch the team warm up.

Our faith partners in Circuit 10 conducted a Faith Network meeting on January 19 at the Oasis Community Church in Lakeland. During the meeting, they identified a Circuit 10 Faith Network Leader/ Chairman John Burek and Co- Chair Crystal Brown (former Circuit 10 Reform Specialist). Moving forward, the faith partners plan to develop a strategic plan and have identified future dates for follow-up meetings. The need for a Circuit Crisis Response Team was mentioned and is also being developed.

Back in December, young ladies from the PACE Center for Girls of Polk County volunteered at the local Salvation Army in Lakeland.  One of the services PACE Center for Girls prides themselves on is their emphasis on teaching the importance of service to the girls. Community volunteer and service-learning opportunities help the girls develop strong connections within their local community.

This past holiday season, the girls volunteered for the Salvation Army.  The girls were divided into groups. Two of the groups challenged each other to put together Christmas stockings for the children of the Salvation Army and the three remaining groups went bell ringing and raised over $513.

In addition to this service project, the girls also volunteered at a nursing home and the Talbot house, a place serving the homeless in Polk County, during the academic year. Staff said the girls truly enjoy helping others and always come back to the center energized from their volunteering activities.

Probation Update 

Circuit 6 JPO Melanie Phelps attended the AMIkids Winter Challenge on January 26 at the World of Life Camp in Pasco County. The annual challenge event draws AMIkids youth from across the county including those local youth from the Circuit 6 AMIkids programs to compete against each other in various exercises. Melanie was on hand to watch as the youth competed in a spelling bee where the winners received medals during an awards ceremony. All of the youth were excited to compete in the healthy competition and demonstrated high levels of maturity and teamwork which they can in turn use to overcome any obstacles they may face.

Probation staff in Circuit 5 participated in a three-day training on the EPICS Model January 20-22. Members of the screening unit and SJPOs who had already been trained as EPICS coders also took part to help sustain the model within the Circuit. Coaching will immediately begin next week with an audio submission due within the following two weeks.  Circuit 5 staff are eager to focus on the Principles of Effective Intervention while using Core Correctional Practices at a high level of fidelity to turn around the lives of troubled youth.

Circuit 4 Reform Specialist Donna Clayton facilitated a meeting for DJJ providers at the DJJ probation office in Jacksonville. This meeting brought together seventeen providers who work with our youth in and around the circuit including: AMIkids, River Region, Chrysalis, Fresh Path Ministries, Daniel Memorial, Bays Florida, Heart 2 Heart Christian Academy, MADD, Gateway Community Service, CareerSource, AMIkids-Clay (Prevention), and Youth Crisis Center. During these meetings providers discussed services, utilization, changes in staff or service, and trending topics. The meeting also gave these providers a chance to network with each other to help better serve our youth. 

Florida National Guard Sergeant First Class (SFC) Joe Alexander, who is a Life Coach (mentor) for Twin Oaks’ Project Connect program transported two youth to the Florida Capitol for the annual Florida National Guard Day on January 12.  The Department of Military Affairs and the Florida National Guard Day sponsor the event to share military equipment static displays to the public and legislators in order to educate them on the various roles and missions of the National Guard.  Project Connect youth enjoyed learning about an assortment of military equipment used during emergency and combat operations, military information displays that described the important community service programs operated by the Guard, hands on experience with military equipment, and had the opportunity to get a picture with Major General Michael A. Calhoun, the Adjutant General of the Florida National Guard.  In addition, they enjoyed being served lunch by National Guard soldiers.  Both youth expressed a strong interest in the military due to the event and mentoring by SFC Alexander who has been in the Guard for 14 years.  When not deployed, SFC Alexander is employed with the City of Tallahassee Police Department as a police officer.    

A youth from Twin Oaks’ Project Connect and a few of his friends from the Boys to Kings youth group took a field trip to the Madison Community Bank in Madison on January 14. The youth received a tour, complimentary lunch, and had a meet and greet with Mr. D. Edwards Meggs, President/CEO of the bank.  The youth were educated on respect, banking skills, appearance, relationships, and basic social and employability skills.   Mr. Marvin Mattair is the President/Founder of Boys to Kings youth mentoring group in Madison, FL.

Probation staff from Circuit 6 including JPOSs Marilyn Walker and Karin Popkowski, SJPOs Rose Mells and Yvette Carethers and JPOs Melissa Hogans, Dekesha Davis, Ronald Smith, Stephanie Ward, Tonya King, Thomasina Johnson, Cheryl Lucas, Ivey Coleman and Matt Landis participated in Literacy Week on January 29 with the Pinellas County School District. These probation officers volunteered to read to students at the Fillmore Center and Pinellas Park Middle School. 

Probation Staff in Circuit 16 held their annual Youth Success Luncheon on January 28, where they honored one of their successful youth Miss Jordan Drew. Jordan, pictured right with Reform Specialist Elaine Thompson was honored for her transformation while under the care of probation. She was involved in the EPICS program and is living proof that the program works. Youth and their families, DJJ staff members, community partners and dignitaries were all on hand for this remarkable event. In addition, Circuit 16 honored the winners of the Poetry, Essay and Poster Contest for Youth Success Day where Jordan also finished second in the poetry competition. 

Circuit 17 Probation staff in participated in the 5th annual 33311 Walk held at Joseph C. Carter Park in Fort Lauderdale. The walk, which was hosted by Mount Bethel Human Services, benefitted Broward AWARE!, which is a four month campaign designed to support organizations who work to help prevent child abuse and heal those who have been victimized. The event focused on issues such as the lack of placement of foster children and teens, youth with involvement in the juvenile justice system, truancy, and human trafficking.   It started with a 2.3 mile community walk and featured art exhibits, presentations and inspirational speakers.  Our long standing partnership with Mt. Bethel is a true testament to the successful and continued integration of the Roadmap of Excellence principles. The Department was able to provide the community with information on the supervision process, human trafficking initiative and Roadmap to System Excellence. 

Probation Staff in Circuit 19 celebrated Youth Success Week with a series of events throughout the Circuit. On January 27, JPOS Ann-Marie Campbell, SJPO Jenny Hickox and JPOs Devin Robinson and LaSheri Baker hosted and event at the Okeechobee County Public Library entitled, “Supporting the Community for Change.” This event featured motivational speaker Preston Wiggins who spoke to our youth about good choices and how they can turn their lives around for the better. In addition, the JPOs honored each of their youth from probation or Drug Court that were making good progress on their supervision plans. 

On January 28, staff from Unit 101 in Indian River hosted a meeting at the Gifford Aquatic Center. The guest speaker for this event was facility manager Larry Stanley, who gave the youth and their families a motivational speech which included a presentation on the services offered at the Aquatic Center. 

Also on January 28, staff in Port St. Lucie hosted a pizza party for the youth on probation at the Port Saint Lucie Police Department. During the celebration, many DJJ staff members spoke and encouraged these youth to continue to make progress on their court ordered sanctions. 

On January 29, staff from Unit 201 including JPOS Ann-Marie Campbell, SJPO Jennifer Joslin, and JPOs LaSheri Baker, Trenise Washington and Jasmin Dacus hosted another “Supporting Youth for Change” event at the Children Services Counsel of Martin County. The youth and visitors in attendance were able to listen to and interact with guest speakers, Sharyn Krim and Dr. Cocoves from Health and Human Services, our local civil citation and diversion program provider, and Connie Perez Ebrahimi from Henderson Mental Health. Chief Probation Officer Wydee’a Wilson and Assistant Chief Probation Officer Dorothy Malik also provided encouraging words to the youth present. Closing remarks were presented by Reform Specialist Michelle Simpson. A few of the youth in attendance were also honored for their work ethic and progress made since being involved with DJJ.

I am pleased to share the following letter that was sent to me by a parent of a youth who was in the care of Circuit 14 JPO Mary Zahasky.

Dear Ms. Daly, 

I am writing this letter as a heartfelt thank you to an outstanding JPO here in Bay County. Mary Zahasky was assigned to my adoptive son MR in April of 2013. She grasped at the fact that he was a special needs child and worked very hard with us to get him through the process. He did well with her guidance the first time around and worked with ASA Sue Roger to have his completion of probation requirements met if he completed the SIPP in Jacksonville successfully. 

Unfortunately, with his mental and behavioral problems, that was short lived. When arrested again because of stealing, we were not guaranteed that Mary would be assigned to him. When she was, I felt very relieved as she already knew the story. She was firm but compassionate and tried again to help him. He was placed again in another SIPP placement in Bradenton for six months. She kept in contact with me as well as his therapist in that facility throughout the entire time. 

When he left that facility and was placed by me in a specialized therapeutic foster home to try and transition him back into our home, she worked with the staff at Boys Town and the DJJ office in Tallahassee to get him into a special Community Connection 12-week program in lieu of community hours for his probation. 

Mary is a very caring and compassionate person who does more than the average JPO. I am commending her for those qualities that make her exceptional at what she does and I thought you should hear from a very grateful parent. If you have a newsletter, please feel free to share this.


Reese Suzanne Russell


A story from a previous Weekly Letter regarding the regional transition trainings incorrectly referred to the group as Circuit 2 Probation staff and should have read the Probation Headquarters-Transition Department.  Below are additional photos from the trainings.  

Reform Specialist Melinda Wesley-Nelson from Circuit 9 attended the Step Up For Kids Central Florida Town Hall Meeting on February 4 at the Park Lake Presbyterian Church in Orlando. The meeting was hosted by The Children’s Campaign and the Every Child Matters Education Fund. During the meeting Melinda spoke about the Department’s reform initiatives, Civil Citation and the Stop Now and Plan (SNAP) program. The town hall gave leading child and family advocates the chance to listen to the local community as they voiced their concerns about the well-being of children and families across a wide range of critical concerns.

On February 5, Melinda was a featured presenter at the Crisis Intervention Team Youth Training for law enforcement officers. The event, hosted by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Greater Orlando and Wraparound Orange, provided law enforcement officers with important information and strategies to increase positive outcomes for troubled youth in the school and in the community. Melinda led a presentation on Civil Citation and provided statistical information about mental health within the juvenile justice system.

Melinda also conducted Civil Citation training on February 3 to social workers with the Osceola County Public School (OCPS). This training provided the social workers with an overview of the juvenile justice system, an overview of the Civil Citation process, the benefits of Civil Citation, and how Civil Citation can assist with early identification of youth who have mental health or substance abuse issues and to ensure the youth gains timely access to the appropriate treatment services. DJJ and OCPS will work together to utilize alternatives to arrest for those youth who are disruptive in the schools and to provide these youth with the appropriate individualized services.

Circuit 6 JPOS Karin Popkowski was invited by former Juvenile Circuit Judge Irene Sullivan to speak to her seminar class of law students from the Stetson University School of Law on February 4. Karin spoke with these students about our agency, the life of a juvenile probation officer as well as the Pinellas County Girls Court program. 

JPOs Ardena Bosley and Teresa Perez from Circuit 13 represented DJJ during the Criminal Justice Cyber Security and Government Affairs Fair which was held on the campus of the University of South Florida on February 4. Ardena and Teresa used this time to talk about careers with the Department as well as the many volunteer opportunities available.  Career Services at the University of South Florida coordinates the following career fairs for business, industries, non-profit organizations and government agencies to recruit candidates for their internship, cooperative education and full-time professional employment opportunities.

Juvenile Justice Officer Academy Graduation Ceremony

Congratulations to the newest Juvenile Justice Probation Officers (JPO) who graduated Friday, February 5, 2016 from the Florida Public Safety Institute and the Juvenile Justice Detention Officers (JDO) who graduated Monday, February 8, 2016, from Broward College.  The Probation Officers will supervise youth in the community and the Detention Officers will supervise youth in detention centers as they await for an appearance before the court or placement in a juvenile residential treatment facility.  Thanks to Fred Schuknecht, Chief of Staff and Conrad McCray, Government Operations Consultant, for delivering the graduation address for the JPO and JDO graduations. Kudos to Learning Consultants Denise Cannon, Christina Ash and Learning Consultant Manager Andrea Minnis for training the officers for these positions of critical responsibility. The graduates will work in the circuits and regional juvenile detention centers (RJDC) listed next to their names.

Florida Public Safety Institute Graduates

Front Row (Left to right):  Mary Garza-Circuit 13, Taylor Bartz-Circuit 5, Amber Gillis-Circuit 14, Andrea Monasterios-Cirucit 8, Monique Barnes-Circuit 20, Brittany Condry-Circuit 2, Cheryl Stevenson-Circuit 6

Middle Row: Kimberly Wynn-Circuit 4, April Floyd-Circuit 1, Korie Happy-Circuit 20, Chris Barber-Circuit 6, Tanika Dove-Circuit 4, Aparna Clarke­-Circuit 8, Sonya Rollins-Circuit 4 

Third Row:  Kristin Loar-Circuit 13, Melissa Nairns-Circuit 6, Kira Harmeling-Circuit 20, Shal’Quindra Johnson-Circuit 1, Stephen Stirks-Circuit 4, Erik Lash-Circuit 4, Frank Navarro-Circuit 4, Lisa Kielbon-Circuit 5, Andrew Mulready-Circuit 20


Broward Community College Graduates

Front Row (Left to right):  Nelysha St. Jean – Miami-Dade RJDC, Gina Richard – Miami-Dade RJDC, Keiana Johnson –Collier RJDC, Ewart Reid – Miami-Dade RJDC, Camellia Dixon-Calloway –Broward RJDC, Myia Hepburn – Broward RJDC, Sheena Mondesire – Broward RJDC

Second Row:  Emanuel Levell III – Miami-Dade RJDC, Pierre Sainval – Collie RJDC,  Alejandro Castellanos – Miami-Dade RJDC, Terrill Paulk – Miami-Dade RJDC, Kenneth Jean – Miami-Dade RJDC, Antwan McCarthy - Broward RJDC, Learning Consultant Denise Cannon

Congratulations to the newest Juvenile Justice Detention Officers (JDO) who graduated Friday, February 12, 2016 from the Florida Public Safety Institute.  The Detention Officers will supervise youth in detention centers as they await for an appearance before the court or placement in a juvenile residential treatment facility.  Thanks to Jeff Wenhold, Detention Services North Regional Director, for delivering the graduation address for the JDO graduation. Kudos to Senior Learning Consultant Duane Pace and Senior Learning Specialist Artavia Parrish for training the officers in these positions of critical responsibility. The graduates will work in the regional juvenile detention centers (RJDC) listed next to their names.

First Row (Left to right):  Caprena Thomas – SW FL RJDC, Katrina Gaither – Alachua RJDC, Jessica Jefferson – Leon RJDC

Second Row:  Yakira Davis – St. Lucie RJDC, Mary Baker – St. Lucie RJDC, Ciera White – Alachua RJDC

Third Row: Jaquain Hampton – Alachua RJDC, Shanteeika Ray – Leon RJDC, Raul Hernandez – Leon RJDC, Ebony Sutton – Duval RJDC, Ashleigh Finletter – St. Lucie RJDC, Nicole Lucas – Okaloosa RJDC, Laurie Aldrich – Okaloosa RJDC

Fourth Row: James Marshall – Leon RJDC, John Linhares – Monroe RJDC, Ricky Reed – Leon RJDC, Kevin Roberts – St. Lucie RJDC, Alexander Deleon – Alachua RJDC, Reid Walden – Okaloosa RJDC, James Cargill Jr. – Duval RJDC, Derek Christie – Duval RJDC, and Marcus Garner – Volusia RJDC

Detention Update

On January 27, the Escambia RJDC hosted a group of 21 international dignitaries who were learning about “Children in the United States Justice System,” as a part of the US State Department Exchange Program. The visit, which was sponsored by the Gulf Coast Citizen Diplomacy Council, included a tour of the facility and discussions about the services available to juveniles in our system including educational, mental health, substance abuse and health care services. In addition, Chief Data Integrity Officer Mark Greenwald made a presentation on juvenile delinquency in Florida.

I am pleased to share that JJDO Annie Edwards was named Employee of the Month for the South Region for the month of December. Officer Edwards always goes above and beyond what is expected of her. Her caring approach, interpersonal communication with our youth and her willingness to go above and beyond has played a huge role in the overall success of the facility.  Congratulations Officer Edwards and keep up the great work!

CareerSource Florida recently facilitated a Career Preparation Workshop for the youth at the Marion RJDC. The workshop focused on mock interviewing, resume building, budget and goal setting, expungement and coping skills. Several speakers participated in the event and the youth really enjoyed the activity.

In addition, the staff at Marion have created a recognition board for the youth at the facility. The board recognizes the student of the week as well as the youth with the best kept room of the week. These students are recognized with a certificate, their picture on the display board and a snack from the canteen. This posting encourages each youth to manage their own behavior by being successful in the classroom and be rewarded at the end of the week.

The Miami-Dade RJDC recently hosted two professional football players who came to speak to the youth at the facility. Pro-Bowl running back Lamar Miller from the Miami Dolphins and Defensive Back Demarcus Van Dyke from the Pittsburgh Steelers took time out of their busy schedules to mentor these kids. Both men are graduates from the University of Miami and felt it was important to give back to the community where they established their success. They spoke about the importance of education, staying out of trouble, respect and all of the hard work, dedication and focus that is needed to make it through college and ultimately to the NFL.  After speaking collectively with the youth they took some more time out to take pictures and sign autographs.

Six youth from the Bay RJDC were recently certified in the Safe Serve program by Dr. Marjorie Moore from Gulf Coast State College in Panama City. Dr. Moore makes numerous visits to the detention facility as part of an on-going partnership with the Bay County District Schools through liaison Ann Martin. The Safe Serve program provides these youth an avenue to improve themselves while they are in secure detention and gets them ready to transition back into the community and look for employment. All six of the youth passed the certification exam and two of them made a 100%. 

Recently, the Bay RJDC welcomed Fishery Biologist Michelle Duncan from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) who provided one on one career counseling with our youth. In addition, Ms. Duncan brought in a few baby sharks for the youth to see and touch. The visit was spurred by one of the very bright young ladies at the facility who was extremely interested in a career in marine biology. Ms. Duncan has made several visits to the RJDC over the years through a partnership with the Bay County District Schools. She has done an incredible job interacting with our youth while teaching them about our local marine fisheries. 

I’m pleased to announce that Corporal Romeo Jones from the Duval RJDC was recently selected as the Employee of the Month for the North Region. Corporal Jones is an outstanding officer with Duval and displays significant leadership qualities to both the staff and the youth. He consistently gives 110% of his dedication to his facility and is devoted to completing the mission of the Department. Jones shows the youth how they can become more productive citizens by teaching them how to apply for a job and dressing appropriately. In addition he serves as a training officer who properly trains the newly hired staff as well as improving the veterans who have been with the agency for a while. On behalf of the entire Department I wish to congratulate Corporal Jones on this richly deserved honor. 

Residential Update

Recently, the young men at Duval Academy, a non-secure program for males, ages 14 to18, operated by Youth Services International, LLC, attended an Open Mic Night event held in Jacksonville.  This community event, hosted by Sassy Seniors, is held once a month to highlight local talent and to promote community engagement.  Several young men from Duval Academy performed through the outlets of dance, poetry, singing, and acting.  Afterwards, they enjoyed a tasty dinner together.  The Sassy Seniors are looking forward to the youth returning to join in the event again! 

Charles Britt Academy (CBA) had a busy month in January!  The non-secure program for males ages 14 to 18, which is operated by Youth Services International, Inc., had three major events, including Family Day, a special dinner for the young men who participated in the etiquette class, and the commencement of C-Tech classes for the young men in vocational education.  

The Quarterly Family Day event brought together more than 90 family members who toured the facility, shared a meal with the youth, and spent quality time with each other.  The facility’s faith community partner, Amazing Grace Bible Church in St. Petersburg, gave every youth a new pair of Asics running shoes that the boys unwrapped with their families.  Each youth also received various hygiene products, including body wash, loofahs, socks, boxers, and lotions.  In addition, group gifts were opened that included board games, radios, and video games.  In survey responses, the visiting families reported that they were impressed with the program and happy that their children are in good hands. 

Seven boys at CBA successfully completed a semester long etiquette class that was organized by Pinellas County School Board Behavioral Specialist Gini Grieb and Charles Britt Mental Health Therapist Robin Fitzgerald.  Subject matter taught in the class ranged from learning about proper dinner conversation to how to properly arrange eating utensils on a table.  At the end of the semester, the seven youth were treated to a five-course meal on St. Petersburg Beach at Carino’s, one of the city’s premier Italian restaurants. They thoroughly enjoyed the gourmet breads, salads, appetizers, authentic Italian entrees, and desserts.  

The class not only taught these young men etiquette skills, but it also showed them that with a little hard work and dedication comes rewards.  The restaurant staff and patrons complimented the youth on their excellent behavior and manners throughout the meal.

Lastly, the program officially began its first C-Tech class in January.  Over the past several months, CBA worked with Pinellas County School Board officials to finalize the details of the vocational program for the youth.  The program offers courses and, with successful completion of the classes, certifications in Telecommunications, Copper-Based Network Cabling, Fiber Optic-Based Network Cabling, Telephone Systems and VolP, Introduction to Home Entertainment, and Introduction to Energy Management.  

 At the end of January, six youth from Bartow Youth Academy, a non-secure program operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC, for males ages 14 to18, attended a collegiate basketball game at Southeastern University in Lakeland.  The boys were invited by Head Coach R-Jay Barsh and the Southeastern University men’s basketball team.  The boys enjoyed the rivalry match-up against Johnson & Wales University.  Although the rival team took the win, it was still a memorable and exciting event for the youth.

The youth at Duval Academy, a non-secure program for boys ages 14 to18, which is operated by Youth Services International, Inc., have the opportunity to participate in a cooking class that teaches them basic life skills in order to assist them with transitioning home.  Throughout the youth’s stay, they are taught how to prepare several different recipes.  As displayed to the right, the young men recently learned how to make pretzel pizzas.  Teaching this life skill helps the youth transition into their communities more smoothly by providing them with basic tools for how to properly take care of and nourish themselves.

While haircuts are part of normal program operations, the young men at Duval Academy who are leaving the program get one last, special haircut.  It is important for each youth to feel confident and proud when leaving the program.  The transition specialist talks to the youth about the importance of maintaining personal hygiene and grooming techniques.  For some of the boys, they need this “new start” to keep their momentum going.

Additionally, the young men at Duval Academy had the opportunity to recognize Black History Month during the month of February.  Earlier this month, former State Senator Tony Hill visited the program and spoke with the youth about meaningful contributions that African-Americans have made locally in Jacksonville, statewide, and around the nation.  Representing the first district, Senator Hill served in the Florida Senate from 2002 to 2011.  He provided each youth with a handout containing many examples and stories of significant influences African-Americans have had on our country and more information about Black History Month.

Last week, a young man from Escambia Boys Base (EBB), a non-secure facility for boys ages 14 to 18 operated by AMIkids, Inc., was selected to attend the local/site competition for the Able Trust Florida High School High Tech (HSHT) 2015-2016 Speech Contest.  The contest has two levels of competition: local/site and state.  The winner of each local contest will compete in the state competition against other local winners on March 11, 2016 at the Able Trust Board of Directors meeting in Ft. Lauderdale.  To be able to participate, youth must be a student enrolled at HSHT, a vocational rehabilitation program for students with disabilities that encourages them to explore STEM careers (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).  

Escambia Boys Base held its own competition before selecting one youth to represent the program at the local/site competition held last week.  Youth I.R. was the runner-up at EBB’s competition.  Since the actual winner from EBB was unable to attend the local competition due to medical reasons, Youth I.R. was chosen to represent the program last week.  He went on to be selected as the winner of the local competition for the 2015-2016 North Florida Regional Speech Contest!  

Each youth could select one of the three given topics, and he chose the topic titled “Quality of Life and Qualify of Place”.  He was required to offer suggestions about how to change how Florida is perceived and to provide insight relating to what innovations would make our state a better, nicer place to live, work, and play while considering the diversity of cultures and visitors present.

The Science Discovery Center recently visited the young men at Marion Youth Academy, a non-secure facility for boys ages 14 to 19, operated by Youth Services International, Inc.  The group presented a program called “it’s not magic, it’s science.”  The youth conducted various science experiments with staff supervision from the program and the Science Discovery Center. 

I am pleased to announce that Qualitative Analyst Kent Rinehart from the Bureau of Quality Improvement is retiring this month after 37 years of dedicated service to the state of Florida. Kent (pictured standing left in the purple shirt) has worked in both detention and probation services before coming on board with quality improvement. He has been a tremendous asset to the Department and will be greatly missed. On behalf of DJJ I would like to wish Kent the best of luck in his retirement.