Welcome to the new DJJ Website!
Find out how to use the new site.

Secretary's Message

May 2, 2016

Secretary Daly’s Weekly Letter 

Last week was a productive and busy time for DJJ staff, our providers, and our stakeholders, as we continued our work in bettering the lives of Florida’s children 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

Juvenile Justice Leadership Network Meeting

Last week I was in our nation’s capital to take part in the Juvenile Justice Leadership Network’s biannual meeting at Georgetown University. The Juvenile Justice Leadership Network is part of Georgetown University’s Center for Juvenile Justice Reform (CJJR) and is hosted in partnership with the Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators and the Public Welfare Foundation. It was created to facilitate the collaboration of juvenile justice and probation leaders at the state and local level who are engaged in significant reform efforts in their jurisdictions. The Network supports some of the most innovative juvenile justice leadership in the country as they work to implement their reforms.

Topics on the meeting’s agenda included “Effective Case Management and Culture Change,” which covered the topic of risk assessments, performance measures, and EPICS (Effective Practices in Community Supervision), which DJJ has worked to implement over the last several years. There was also a session regarding “Predictive Analytics,” which featured a presentation from our own Director of Research and Data Integrity Mark Greenwald who discussed how these analytics can be used to target services for our at-risk youth. The meeting concluded on Wednesday with a session entitled “Reducing Racial and Ethnic Disparities.” 

Florida Criminal Justice Executive Institute Policy Board Meeting

Chief of Staff Fred Schuknecht attended the Florida Criminal Justice Executive Institute (FCJEI) Policy Board meeting in Daytona Beach. The FCJEI, which is housed within the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, offers a unique educational environment for criminal justice leaders in Florida. The FCJEI’s Policy Board is comprised of criminal justice professionals who guide and direct the activities of the FCJEI.

The goals of the FCJEI include delivering educational programs for criminal justice executives, conduct research related to criminal justice issue, to facilitate networking and mentoring throughout the criminal justice system, and to increase the effectiveness of education within the criminal justice system through the application of technology. The Policy Board is statutorily charged with establishing administrative procedures and operational guidelines necessary to insure that criminal justice education needs are identified and met through the delivery of quality instruction. 

Human Trafficking Update

Last week, Human Trafficking Director Bethany Gilot and Department of Children and Families Human Trafficking Director Kim Grabert made a trip to Kansas to meet with the Kansas' Attorney General and other key stakeholders in the anti-trafficking movement.  Kim and Bethany shared the initiatives that Florida has taken to combat trafficking in meetings with child welfare and juvenile justice leadership and presented on the Human Trafficking Screening Tool to Kansas' Human Trafficking Advisory Board.  Bethany is excited to report that Kansas has utilized our HTST, HTST Policy/Procedure, and HTST training to build a screening tool pilot project to be conducted within the juvenile services system. It is exciting that Florida's leadership on this effort is inspiring other states to take on new anti-trafficking initiatives.

Additionally, Kim and Bethany had the opportunity to visit the Wichita Children's Home, which serves as an emergency intake shelter for human trafficking victims.  It was a great opportunity to explore how to fill a gap that currently exist in Florida's services for human trafficking victims. 

2016 Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day

Last Thursday was the 23rd annual “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day” when, according to the Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Foundation, more than 3.5 million American workplaces open their doors to over 39 million employees and their children.  

In Tallahassee, the Department of Economic Opportunity hosted the annual Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day Event at the Capitol.  This event invites children along with their parents, caregivers, and mentors to the 22nd floor of the Capitol to participate in interactive exhibits from educational institutions, organizations, and government agencies to highlight the importance of education and growing employment opportunities in Florida. Some of the exhibitors at this year’s event included the TCC Stem Center, the FSU National High Magnetic Laboratory, the Florida Sports, Foundation, Space Florida, and our own DJJ Office of Prevention and Victim Services. 

Pictured left: Gabe, DJJ Detention Services team member Maureen Honan’s son, taking part in the Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Event at the Capitol.

Pictured right: State Representative Alan Williams, DJJ Community Engagement Coordinator Verla Lawson, State Senator Bill Montford and DJJ Prevention Specialist Onazina Washington, III.

Prevention Update

South Regional Director for Probation and Community Intervention Terria Flakes and Delinquency Prevention Specialist Marie Boswell joined Florida Governor Rick Scott on April 27 at the PACE Center for Girls Miami for a ceremony that highlighted anti-human trafficking efforts in Florida and funding included in the state budget for services to victims as well as early intervention and prevention programs for at-risk girls.  Miami-Dade County Commissioner Rebecca Sosa was in attendance and congratulated the PACE girls on their accomplishments. 

Governor Scott shared that nearly $7 million of Florida's budget will be dedicated to safe homes and service providers across the state for victims of human trafficking and other services. And, another $2 million was dedicated for the PACE Center for Girls to fund an after school program and allow more than 60 additional girls the opportunity to join PACE.

The PACE Center aims to serve at-risk girls to help them continue and complete their education, stay out of the criminal justice system, and obtain the skills necessary to lead productive lives. Two of the seven safe homes are located in Miami, while three others are located in the greater Tampa Bay Area.

Gov. Scott also recently signed legislation to establish harsher penalties for human traffickers in the Sunshine State.  

On April 17, Delinquency Prevention Specialist Pat McGhee was honored by the Gathering of Women, Inc. as one of their 2016 Men and Women of Distinction. Pat was awarded the Arts, Cultural & Heritage Award and was recognized for the excellence she delivers in the Pinellas area.

Pat incorporates fashion and art into her work with at-risk youth as a means to engage with them and provide more options for their involvement and participation, helping to keep them busy and out of trouble.  “These youth come to us broken in most cases,” Pat said, “and I just try to fill the void by doing whatever I can for them.”

She feels her design skills are a gift from God.  Pat uses her talent to work with women at the peak or in the valley of their lives (figuratively speaking).  Her clients include bridal party participants, women in the midst of life changing illnesses who require a wardrobe makeover, ladies who are taking their careers to a new level and others who simply desire to makeover their look.

Pat is involved in many community service projects. She has worked with Earth Missions Inc., Youth Cultural Program, Resource for Women, “Tribute To Women” (Foster Kid Project), St. Petersburg College Fashion Show, Life Link charity, Cashmere & Colors Productions, Fletcher Productions and Angelia’s Hair Salon. She is also active in Fashion, Etiquette, Art, and Health Boot Camp, A Choice to Change - Dress for Success, Bullying and Fashion Production Bethel Community Baptist Church.

She is a member of Without Walls International Church and is on the board of AIDS Services Association of Pinellas. In addition, Pat is active with the Urban League Guild and NCNW.

On April 22, The Weekly Challenger, a St. Petersburg newspaper said Pat lives a life of fashion. “McGhee has 20 years of experience as a retail manager/makeover consultant for Colony Shops, Inc. In addition to her 18 years of service with the Department of Juvenile Justice, she's a fashion consultant for Malarkey International India. She’s been featured in just about every media outlet in the Tampa Bay area, and her fashion shows are always sold out.”

Above: Pat McGhee and her mother, Idella McGhee, celebrate Pat's recognition from The Gathering of Women.  

Circuit Advisory Board Coordinator Patrice Richardson and Special Projects Administrator Eugene Morris conducted a site visit at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay on March 30 in Tampa.  During the visit, they met with Stephen Koch, President and Chief Executive Officer and DeAnna Sheffield Ward, Vice President of Resource Development, of Big Brothers Big Sisters. Patrice and Eugene also met other Big Brothers Big Sisters staff members and discussed outreach and engagement opportunities that the organization might employ. They also discussed upcoming projects and future collaborative prospects.

In the above photo (from left to right): Stephen Koch, President and Chief Executive Officer, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay; Eugene Morris, DeAnna Sheffield Ward, Vice President of Resource Development, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay; and Patrice Richardson.

Assistant Secretary for Prevention Alice Sims was recognized for her service to the community and her work with DJJ during the Family Matters Day celebration on April 17 at the Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Tallahassee. Bethel also recognized the Florida Department of Children and Families along with many of their community partners who work in and support the child welfare system.

DCF Secretary Mike Carroll said, “Churches are invaluable in supporting the child welfare system from inspiring families to foster and adopt to mentoring and assisting struggling families.

“Bethel Baptist is one of the most extraordinary examples I have ever seen of what an active church membership can accomplish through faith and good work,” Carroll said. “Programs like the National Save the Family Movement, the Project EMBRACE partnership are just a few examples of the great work.”

More than 800 parishioners and visitors filled the sanctuary for the 11:00 a.m. worship service. Soul-stirring gospel music, inspirational singing, and a powerful sermon was preached by Reverend Dr. R. B. Holmes, Jr. Reverend Holmes encouraged church goers to be humble, watchful, and hopeful.

“It was a joy to be invited to participate at the Family Celebration Service,” said Jack Levine Founder of 4Generations Institute. “Bethel is known for its rich history of providing hope, moral and spiritual support to the community at large.”  

PREA Update

Congratulations to the following programs for passing the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) Audit:

  • Okeechobee Girls Academy;
  • Okeechobee Juvenile Offender Correction Center;
  • Okeechobee Youth Development Center/ Okeechobee Youth Correctional Center; and
  • Okeechobee Youth Treatment Center.

Currently, there are 69 DJJ residential and detention facilities in the state that are PREA compliant.  The staff members in each of these facilities are to be congratulated on jobs well done.

The next round of PREA audits will start again next spring in the central region.  DJJ PREA Coordinator Gene McMahon will be providing training on PREA sustainability at the quarterly regional directors and superintendents meetings for the offices of Residential and Detention Services in the coming months.

Completed PREA audit reports are posted on the Department’s web site.

Residential Update

Northeast Deputy Regional Director Billy Starke, Jr. recently attended the inaugural Edward Waters College (EWC) Athletic Banquet.  The event honored the athletes at EWC and to celebrate the history of athletics at the college.  NFL Washington Redskins Cornerback Darrell Green was the guest speaker at the banquet.  He played for the Redskins for 20 years and assisted in winning two Super Bowls.  Mr. Green spoke about the importance of maintaining faith, working harder than your competition, and having the support of others. 

Shown left (left to right): Darrell Green and Billy Starke, Jr.


Recently, the residents of Duval Academy, a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by Youth Services International, Inc., had the opportunity to attend an event at the Prime F. Osborn III Convention Center in  Jacksonville.  Keynote speaker, United States Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, addressed high school students from around the Jacksonville area about childhood obesity. 

JoAnn Bridges Academy, a non-secure program for girls, ages 12 to 18, which is operated by Youth Services International, Inc., completed an African drum class offered through the VSA Florida Program.  Yazid Johnson, from Tallahassee, taught the residents for two hours a week over a five-week period.  The youth not only learned basic drum skills, they also developed leadership skills, gained  respect for one another and the equipment, and advanced their cooperation skills all while having fun and learning about music.  One youth shared that the drums gave her a sense of peace and accomplishment.  

JoAnn Bridges Academy and the School Board of Madison County also recently honored youth P.T., who recently earned a high school diploma by meeting all the requirements under the performance-based exit option.  Superintendent of Schools for the District School Board of Madison County Doug Brown awarded her the diploma (shown left).  This graduation ceremony also encouraged and re-energized the other students to continue working towards earning their diplomas.

Shown left (left to right): Career, Technical and Alternative Education Coordinator of North Florida Career Pathways Consortium Sam Stalnaker, youth P.T., and Superintendent Doug Brown.

The residents of Miami Youth Academy, a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC, recently held several events and activities during National Crime Victim Week (Apr. 10-16).  Riverside Baptist Church in Miami facilitated a discussion with the boys on the topic of ripple effects and how the choices they make throughout their lives affect other people around them.  In addition, they discussed how certain ripples in a person’s life last for a long time, even if not visible, and often remain hidden in their hearts. 

A guest speaker from the School Board of Miami-Dade County worked with the boys to develop skits and a comic strip related to topics of the ripple effects of crime and the consequences of their actions affecting those around them.

Okeechobee Intensive Halfway House (OIHH), a non-secure program for boys, ages 13 to 18, which is operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC, hosted a car wash to raise money for the tornado relief effort in Century, FL in Escambia County.  The youth wanted to help out OIHH Unit Manager Sam Davison, as his hometown was struck by a tornado in February 2016.  The boys washed over 20 cars and received more than $250 to donate to the relief effort!

Last week, Okeechobee Youth Development Center (OYDC), a high-risk program for boys, ages 13 to 21, which is operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC, hosted a basketball rematch between two dorms: Campanella and Omega cottages.  The game was filled with great suspense and action, and it ended up going into overtime!  Campanella was victorious in the end, with a 32 to 30 lead.  Throughout the game, both sides showed great teamwork and effort, all while having an enjoyable time.

Did you know that the first Earth Day was celebrated on April 22, 1970, and was mobilized by 20 million Americans from all walks of life?  The actions of these Americans more than 45 years ago led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.  Today, over one billion people in 192 countries participate in Earth Day activities, making it the largest civic observance in the world.

The residents at Dade Juvenile Residential Facility, a non-secure program for boys, ages 12 to 18, which is operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC, participated in an Earth Day activity on April 20, by planting four trees in the greenspace at the program.  Under the guidance of Assistant Facility Administrator Rick Grunow, therapists facilitated their daily group sessions outdoors so that  30 young men were able to assist with planting the trees.

Probation Update

The Escambia Juvenile Justice Council in Circuit 1 recently held their Youth Success Night awards banquet in Pensacola with former FSU great and Heisman Trophy winner Charlie Ward serving as the guest speaker.  A Project Connect post-commitment probation youth was nominated by Lead Transition Specialist, Penelope Mihas, and awarded the Youth Success Award for her achievements while in transition.  After giving birth in November 2015 while on PCP, this youth has maintained perfect attendance in school at Camelot Academy and later PACE Center for Girls while sustaining high academic performance with all A’s and B’s currently holding a 100 average in both Math and English.  In addition, she completed the CAREER$ online employability, life, and social skills course and works with her Life Coach and recently awarded (Runner-Up) Florida Juvenile Justice Association Volunteer of the Year, Julia Venturi, to complete her community service hours.  Lastly, and most importantly, this youth has taken on the role of mother with absolute dedication and vigor and is using the experience as motivation to maintain the positive life track she is on.  

Je’Meane Pinkney, Lead Transition Specialist for Project Connect, was recently asked to speak to a group of youth in an academic recovery program in Apalachicola, at the Franklin County courthouse.  She spoke about her experiences working with high risk juveniles, provided them tips on why and how they should avoid getting into trouble with law enforcement and emphasized the role education plays in making smart decisions that lead to individual success.  She explained the consequences of crime as it applies to limited opportunities for education and employment making sure to stress seeking pro-social outlets for spare time as a formula for staying on the right track.  In addition to Ms. Pinkney’s presentation, the youth received training on how the court operates in hearing juvenile court cases. 

Detention Update     

The Office of Detention Services-North Region is pleased to announce that JJDO Gwendolyn Byrd from the Volusia RJDC has been named Employee of the Month for the North Region for the month of March. Gwendolyn was honored during a ceremony at Volusia on April 28 and is pictured left with Volusia RJDC Superintendent Paul Finn and North Regional Detention Director Jeff Wenhold

Wednesday marked Administrative Professionals' Day and the staff at the Saint Lucie RJDC banded together to celebrate the career of Administrative Assistant Altha Smith. Smith has been with the facility for the last 39 years and serves a major role at the detention center. The staff at St. Lucie wanted to show her just how much she is appreciated as they recognize her hard work and dedication to the department. 

From left to right: Douglas Kane II, ADCS, Lafayette Ashley, JJDOS, Cheryl Taylor, JJDOII, Nyoka Coplin, JJDOII,  Dedilia Finlayson, DS, Altha Smith, AA, Jeastina Reynolds, JJDOI, Sonjay Campbell, JJDOI, Bobbie, Townsend, JJDOI and Erica Grant, JJDOII.

The Office of Detention Services held a very interactive training last week at the Florida Public Safety Institute in Midway. The training was given to all detention facility training coordinators, regional training coordinators, and statewide trainers. Components of the training included team building, youth movement, the Roadmap to System Excellence, Phase 1 training for newly hired detention officers, the identification of communication styles, and maintaining a positive attitude.  A special thanks to Brenda Posthumus for the development and delivery of the training.