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Secretary's Message

March 14, 2016

Secretary Daly’s Weekly Letter 

While spring has not officially begun, the warmer weather and pollen in the air is a sure sign that it is right around the corner.  Spring symbolizes new beginnings and is a time of renewal, when plants and trees sprout new leaves and flowers bloom. The beginning of this new season is also an opportunity for us to be renewed and revitalized in our own lives. I encourage each of you to take a moment to reflect on the promise that new beginnings bring.  Sometimes in our lives, especially in the lives of the young people in our care, we must travel down difficult and tumultuous paths. However, the promise and hope of a new season and new beginning can make the journey worth it.  It was said best by Anne Bradstreet, “If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant. If we did not sometimes taste adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.” 

As always, thank you for sharing your stories and the inspirational work you do to help turn around the lives of Florida’s youth and families. 


Christina K. Daly

Detention Superintendents’ Meeting

Last week, I was excited to welcome our detention superintendents, detention regional directors, and detention trainers to the statewide detention training at the Pat Thomas Law Enforcement Academy. In addition to the training, this gathering provided our Detention Services leadership team the opportunity to network and discuss best practices as we continue to implement our reform efforts. I was honored to give the opening remarks upon their arrival and praised their continued dedication to serving our youth. Later that afternoon, Deputy Secretary Tim Niermann and Chief of Staff Fred Schuknecht joined the team for a barbeque that displayed comradery and team spirit. 

Legislative Update

The 2016 Regular Legislative Session came to a close on Friday and proved to be a very productive legislative session. I would like to thank everyone who worked to represent the Department this session, including our Chief of Staff Fred Schuknecht, Director of Administration Vickie Harris, Legislative Affairs Director Meredith Stanfield and her Deputy Legislative Affairs Director Jon Conley. The Legislative Affairs Office will complete their Legislative Session Wrap-Up Document in the coming weeks with a full summary of legislative and budget actions. A few highlights from the legislative session include the passage of the following bills:

  • SB 1322 (Juvenile Detention Costs): this bill revises the cost sharing relationship between the department and counties for detention costs.
  • HB 7061 (Transportation): this bill contains the Department’s joint language with the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (HSMV) that would allow HSMV to provide youth transitioning from the juvenile justice system with no cost identification cards. 

Juvenile Justice Officer Academy Graduation Ceremony

Congratulations to the newest DJJ probation officers who graduated Friday, March 11, in a ceremony in Boynton Beach, Florida.  The officers will supervise youth in the community. Thanks to Barbara Gerlock, Chair of the Juvenile Justice Advisory Board, for delivering the graduation address. Kudos to learning consultant manager Andrea Minnis, learning consultant Denise Cannon and adjunct instructors Mary-Ann Sanders, Shirlon McCarthy, Maria Gilhooley and Tahirah Jones for training the officers for this position of critical responsibility. Each graduate successfully completed four weeks of training to become a certified officer. The graduates will work at the Regional Juvenile Probation Offices listed next to their names.

Broward Community College Graduates

Front Row (Left to Right): Geraldine Cox – Circuit 19, Ashley Miller– Circuit 15, Tarnessa Gaines– Circuit 15, Yasha Osby– Circuit 17, Brittney Ling– Circuit 17, Brittiney Coke– Circuit 19, Tami Shiltz– Circuit 19 

Back Row: Kyle Marks– Circuit 15, Dennis Hall– Circuit 15, Michael Ogunlade– Circuit 17, Jasmine Dacus, – Circuit 19, Naomi Suros– Circuit 15, Natalie Davis– Circuit 17, Sherly Beaubrun– Circuit 15, Marvin Blaise– Circuit 15, Curtis Hough– Circuit 15, Williams Loiseau– Circuit 19

2016 FJJA Adolescent Conference

The Florida Juvenile Justice Association is pleased to host the 21st Annual Adolescent Conference. For the past 21 years, FJJA has convened this conference, bringing together statewide and community providers, public-sector staff, educators, law enforcement and many other stakeholders offering high-quality presentations on topics of interest. This year FJJA will co-host the 2016 Adolescent Conference with the Florida Council for Community Mental Health (FCCMH).

The conference is designed to help enhance the professional skills of child serving agencies who work with delinquent, dependent and community youth. The conference offers the opportunity to share and showcase proven prevention, intervention and treatment practices, disseminate knowledge into practice, and discuss implementation of effective strategies. Over the years we have included noted researchers, national experts, treatment providers, community leaders and others, to share findings of effectiveness in adolescent care.

FJJA is proud to include DJJ as an ongoing partner in this conference, which acknowledges the efforts of committed professionals working with our troubled youth as well as increasing the training and professional development opportunities to enhance the skills of our workforce. 

Detention Update

I am pleased to announce that the Broward RJDC has created a youth library in the multi-purpose room of the facility. The library was made possible by Maintenance Supervisor Vladimir Mendez who worked diligently on its creation.

The addition of the library will enable our youth to better enjoy reading and studying in a comfortable area and empower them to read more and enjoy different types of reading material. The RJDC will work with the Broward County Library System who will donate appropriate reading materials to the youth at the facility. We look forward to our youth spending quality quiet time in our new library. 

When a youth is being cared for in a detention or residential facility, our nurses and staff members do their best to help them work through their various trauma in a multitude of ways. Youth AN from the Bay RJDC has experienced a significant amount of trauma in her life and our DMHA Tenora Bailey suggested she work on “duct tape,” products as a part of her ongoing therapy. AN’s grandmother taught her how to make wallets, purses, bows, and other items out of colored duct tape and the activity served as a very therapeutic activity for her. Ms. Bailey and other members of our female staff at Bay set up a therapy group in the facility’s soft room for AN to work on several pieces of duct tape art. The wallet pictured was presented to JJDOS Terrence Henderson during a recent therapy session which nearly brought him to tears. 

Prevention Update

Assistant Secretary for Prevention Alice Sims spoke to inmates during a Black History program at Lowell Correctional Institution (CI) in Marion County. Alice spoke to approximately 200 staff and inmates during their annual Black History observance. Assistant Secretary Sims spoke to the inmates about the importance of being positive role models and about making a difference in their lives and the lives of family and friends.

The theme for the program was “Honoring African-American Heroes.” During the program, the inmates participated in skits, spoken word, African dance, special singing and liturgical dance. Lowell CI also sponsored an art contest for Black History Month. At the end of the program, Senior Chaplain Faith Liburd asked Pastor Ernie Sims to present his wife, Assistant Secretary Sims, with a few thank you gifts.  Warden Angela Gordon delivered the closing remarks.

In order to expose youth and teenagers to information about careers in juvenile justice and other areas of law enforcement, various Prevention team members recently spoke with youth from the Seminole County Police Explorers.

Police Explorers is a program to bridge the gap between youth and police by involving them in police operations. The program is open to youth between the ages of 6 to 17 years old.  Their participation includes projects such as security work at community events, directing traffic at events, and helping with crime prevention programs.  

Marie Boswell, Delinquency Prevention specialist; Craig Swain, Faith Network Coordinator; and Marcus Smith, Deputy Manager, spoke with youth at tribes in Big Cypress, Brighton, Hollywood, Immokalee and Naples. On March 29, Eugene Morris, Special Projects Administrator, will address youth at the Tampa reservation.    

In the above photo (from left to right): School Resource Officer Michele Harbin, Marcus Smith, Sergeant Tara Hardin, Jesus Lizarraga, and Gustavo Ajuz at the Big Cypress Seminole Reservation. 

Residential Update 

Last week, Residential Services-HQ GOC-II Vanessa Wicker Reeves assisted in overseeing a “Train The Trainer” class for the Impact of Crime: Addressing the Harm to Victims and the Community (IOC) curriculum with Assistant Director of Staff Development & Training for G4S Youth Services Bridget Goodrich for contracted residential services providers.  The class was held at the G4S corporate office in Tampa.

Participants learned Impact of Crime concepts, chapter lessons, and implementation guidelines.  All participants did a great job in demonstrating effective group facilitation skills and completing the required class presentations.  One participant said, “I had a blast and I am super excited for my groups to begin.  I’ve learned a lot in a very supportive atmosphere.”  

For DJJ Technical Assistance-Ft. Pierce GOC-II Nicos Antonakos, this “Train The Trainer” class that he helped facilitate resulted in him completing the requirements to earn his “Train The Trainer” certification.  Congratulations, Nicos!

Shown above (left to right, kneeling): Tanisha Whitfield (Circuit 6, Charles Britt Academy/Youth Services International, Inc.).  MIDDLE ROW: Jashanda Lemons (Circuit 13, Tampa Residential Facility/G4S Youth Services, LLC); DaMicia Young (Circuit 13, Hillsborough Girls Academy/G4S Youth Services, LLC); Brodrick Fields (Circuit 6, Charles Britt Academy/Youth Services International, Inc.); Jenna Shaffer (Circuit 6, Central Pasco Girls Academy/G4S Youth Services, LLC); Rina Nellon (Circuit 4, Jacksonville Youth Academy/G4S Youth Services, LLC); Sandra Pinkney (Circuit 13, Youth Environmental Services/AMIKids, Inc.).  BACK ROW: Nicos Antonakos (DJJ-Ft. Pierce Technical Assistance); Marshalle Smith (Circuit 10, Highlands Youth Academy/G4S Youth Services, LLC); Nathaniel Levy (Circuit 13, Youth Environmental Services/AMIKids, Inc.); Danielle Dickson (Circuit 6, Central Pasco Girls Academy/G4S Youth Services, LLC); Daniel Hewitt (Circuit 4, Jacksonville Youth Academy/G4S Youth Services, LLC); Vanessa Reeves (DJJ-HQ Residential Services); and Diane W. Wood (AMIKids, Inc.-Corporate). 

Throughout the month of February, the residents of Duval Academy, a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by Youth Services International, Inc., studied Black History Month.  The students created a museum inside the program so that everyone could learn more about the history and accomplishments of many African-Americans in Florida.  The boys hosted the Duval Academy Advisory Board members, giving them a tour of the museum that they helped to create. 

At the end of the month, the residents welcomed two special guest speakers for Black History MonthWilliam Boston Apparel Owner/Operator William Boston and NIS Systems Chief Operating Officer Abner Davis spoke with the boys about their own personal struggles in overcoming troubles as young men, as well as what it is like to be a business owner.  Both speakers gave invaluable insight and hope for the residents.

Shown above: Duval Academy Advisory Board Members who toured the museum: Annie Smith, Vernell McDaniel, Delores Williams, Jackie Baretto, and Helen Washington

Duval Academy also hosted Family Day on Feb. 27, giving the residents’ families the opportunity to meet program staff members and enjoy entertainment provided by the residents.  The boys also presented poetry from famous African-American poets in honor of Black History Month.

Daytona Juvenile Residential Facility (JRF), a high-risk program for boys, ages 13 to 18, which is operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC, recently held their quarterly Family Day event.  The event began with two residents reading a poem in front of the 25 family members, youth, and staff who participated in the event.  Next, families worked together on various arts and crafts projects, which was led by Community Case Manager Ann McPherson.  Lastly, they shared a meal together, which included baked ziti, salad, rolls, and cupcakes.  Family members shared their appreciation of how staff members elicit positive changes in the boys.

In addition to the Family Day event last month, the students and staff of Daytona JRF initiated Project Greenhouse in order to house the Aquaponics System, which was installed shortly after completion of Project Greenhouse.  Volusia County School Board Teacher D. Hyde is in charge of this project. 

The Cypress Creek Juvenile Offender Correctional Center (JOCC), a maximum-risk, residential commitment program for males, ages 13 to 21, which is operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC, uses a driving simulator in its vocational education program. 

The simulator is a curriculum-based animated apparatus that provides students the opportunity to earn industry-recognized training in commercial driver’s license (CDL) “big truck” driving, forklift operations and other CDL required instruction and testing.  Connected to a printer, the simulator provides reports that detail the student’s performance and shows which areas may need improvement, resulting from a particular driving experience. 

The Cypress Creek JOCC staff believe that, as Thomas Edison said, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

Therefore, all interested students in the program are encouraged to sign up for the CDL course, which makes learning fun.

Highlands Youth Academy, a non-secure program for males, ages 16 to 19, which is operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC, is working on a new look, renovating five of the youth living units into new open-bay cottages.  The boys in residence have been part of the process.

The youth participated in planning meetings and offered suggestions on placing furnishings.  The boys suggested the addition of cork squares above the beds for personal pictures. 

The residents moved into the new units at the end of February.  The greatest challenge for many of the youth was getting used to everything being out in the open.  Instead of individual rooms, the living arrangements are now dormitory style with a shared bathroom, common room, and sleeping arrangements.  It has been two full weeks now and boys really enjoy their new environment.

Probation Update

Last week, Chief Greg Starling and JDAI Coordinators Randi Taylor and Minnie Bishop provided an overview of juvenile justice reform in the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) to faculty from four of Florida’s historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).  The HBCUs are in the process of creating curriculum designed to better equip their students for careers in criminal and juvenile justice systems. The course will focus on ways to close the school-to-prison pipeline. The faculty also received the opportunity to tour AMI North Miami and the Miami-Dade Juvenile Detention Center.

DJJ Training Coordinator Aaron Rivas teamed up with the Orange County Corrections Intelligence Unit to train all JPOs in Circuit 9 about gang awareness. The training was facilitated by correctional officers M. Morales and J. Key who taught our JPOs about gang documentation, gang history, tattoos and hand signals. The trainers provided an important inside look into gang life for our JPOs. They detailed the different areas where gang members reside and described how to spot a gang affiliated youth.  

SJPO Zaida Maladonado recently celebrated her 25th anniversary with the Department and her pending retirement during a lunch party with her fellow employees. Zaida has served proudly with Unit 304 in Circuit 20 in a variety of capacities and stands as a mentor to youth and co-workers alike. She has served her local community well and we wish her the best in her upcoming retirement! 

Recently, Circuit 3 JPOS Tuwuana Rossin organized a team building event in conjunction with the local State’s Attorney’s Office, AMI-FFT, Project Connect and Work Force at a local Lake City bowling alley. The purpose of the event was to network with the community stakeholders in an effort to gain a better understanding of what each agency has to offer to the youth in this community. 

On March 3, Probation staff and several probationary youth in Circuit 20 attended the Drug Free Collier’s Annual Fundraising Luncheon at the Ritz Carlton in Naples. Staff and youth were invited to the event by Juvenile Circuit Court Judge Christine Greider. Three of the youth in attendance saw Judge Greider during her tenure as a Unified Family Court Judge in Collier County. All three of the youth are currently on probation and have been doing extremely well due to the services and referrals that have been put in place by the court. Judge Greider invited the probation officers to share their experiences with the attendees. Following the luncheon, Judge Grieder said, “We had such a great time at the luncheon.  I am so proud to work with your probation officers.  They are the best in the State… Thank you for everything that you and your team do to help juveniles…”

Pictured left to right: Circuit 20 unit 201 and 202 representative JPOs Kira Harmeling, SJPO Francoise Petit, JPO Elsie Jean-Louis, JPO Tara Heinle, Judge Christine Greider, and JPO Pat Kellman.