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Secretary's Message

June 6, 2016

Secretary Daly’s Weekly Letter

Last Wednesday marked the start of the 2016 Hurricane Season, which will last through November 30th.  This hurricane season is expected to be an active one so it is important that we are prepared and ready before a hurricane makes landfall.  I encourage each of you to visit the Florida Division of Emergency Management’s FloridaDisaster.org for up to date weather information and the Division’s Get a Plan website where you can create an emergency plan specific to your family. It is important to remain vigilant and get prepared before an actual emergency strikes.

One of the most important ways to be prepared is by ensuring you have an emergency contact in place. The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) has launched its annual Emergency Contact Information (ECI) campaign in conjunction with the start of Hurricane Season. The ECI system was developed first in Florida because there was no emergency contact program in place to quickly notify loved-ones in the event of an emergency. Please visit the DHSMV’s website here to learn more about ECI and to register your emergency contact information to allow law enforcement to quickly notify your family or friends in response to an emergency situation.


Christina K. Daly

DJJ Employee of the Month

It is my great pleasure to recognize Senior Juvenile Probation Officer Robert Scott as our DJJ Employee of the Month!

SJPO Scott has touched the lives of many youth and families throughout his career in Alachua County. As an employee of DJJ in the 8th Circuit, his knowledge of the community and the relationship he has built has enhanced his ability to assist the youth and the families we serve. Currently, SJPO Scott is working with the youth on post commitment probation as they transition back into the community. SJPO Scott is always diligent in his work handling this complex population of youth. Outside of his regular duties as a Senior Juvenile Probation Officer, he is the PAR, CPR and First Aid instructor for Circuit 8. He also readily assists with training staff in neighboring circuits when needed. In addition, he is one of three Circuit 8 staff members trained as a field training officer. SJPO Scott not only is a team player but he is passionate about assisting new employees begin their career with the Department of Juvenile Justice. He personally sees to it that our new employees enjoy the work and are exceptionally well trained. We are very fortunate to have such a dedicated employee as a part of our team.  Congratulations to SJPO Scott on this well-deserved recognition!

We look forward to highlighting our next Employee of the Month in the near future. Our agency and I would like to remind everyone to please keep sending your nominations for the monthly DJJ Employee of the Month Award. You can do so by clicking here

Thank You to the Florida Council on Crime and Delinquency

It is with much gratitude that I pass along thanks from the Martin Girls Academy (MGA) and DJJ to the Florida Council on Crime and Delinquency (FCCD) for their efforts in making the mural project a great success thus far. Thank you as well to FCCD President Gina Giacomo, who was instrumental in finding artist Lynne Barletta.   

Lynne Barletta is the founder and executive director of the Visionary School of the Arts and Visionary Centers International. She donated her time and the supplies to create these beautiful murals. Lynne worked on this project for several weeks working around the youth’s schedule without any complaint. She also plans on volunteering her weekend time to teach the youth how to draw so they might have a part in the creation. We appreciate her for volunteering her time and the wonderful work she has done thus far at MGA!

The tree mural represents the theme of MGA, which is “Growth and Change.” If you look closely at the roots, they spell the word “love.” The “Catch the Wave of Hope” mural is located in the facility day room area. 

Juvenile Justice Academy Graduations

Congratulations to the newest juvenile justice detention officers (JDO) and juvenile probation officers (JPO) who graduated at the end of May.   The JDOs at Okaloosa Regional Juvenile Detention Center (RJDC) and Hillsborough Community College graduated on May 20th and the JDOs at Alachua RJDC and Broward College graduated on May 27th.  The JPOS at the Florida Public Safety Institute also graduated on May 27th.  Our 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 Assistant Sectary for Probation Paul Hatcher,  Detention Services North Regional Director Jeff Wenhold,  Detention Services North Region Chief Sheddrick Brooks,  Hillsborough RJDC Assistant Superintendent Cordell Nelson , and Acting South Regional Director Detention Services Kevin Housel for delivering the graduation addresses for the JDO and JPO graduations. Kudos to Adjunct Instructor Caitlinmae Jed, Senior Learning Consultant Duane Pace, Learning Consultant Kiva Hagans, Statewide Reviewer and Learning Consultant Barbara Campbell, Learning Consultant Bernard Smith, Senior Learning Specialist Artavia Parrish and Learning Consultant Manager Andrea Minnis for training the officers in these positions of critical responsibility. The graduates will work in the regional juvenile detention centers (RJDC) and probation circuits listed next to their names.

Florida Public Safety Institute Graduates

First Row (Left to right):  Vanetta Robinson –Circuit 19, Kendrick Nelson –Circuit 9, Alexys Evans –Circuit 2, Felicia Fowler –Circuit 19, Marisa Ceccio –Circuit 18, Kimberly Claudio –Circuit 5

Second Row:  Terika Walters –Circuit 8, Chivon Sanders –Circuit 9, Tiffany McGriff –Circuit 2, Marleta Richardson –Circuit 19, Robert Jerrell –Circuit 5, Matthew Landis –Circuit 6, Julia Robertson –Circuit 14, Dalila Placette –Circuit 6

Third Row: Vasiliy Potapv –Circuit 5, Michael Johnson –Circuit 8, Jeremy Wiggins –Circuit 19, Tyrone Patterson –Circuit 1, Nicholas Vandstrander –Circuit 14, Jonathan Gelatt –Circuit 8, Christopher Hatch –Circuit 1

Hillsborough Community College Graduates

Bottom Row (Left to right):  Anthony Rivera - Pasco RJDC, Jerome Thomas- Hillsborough RJDC 

Second Row:  Jeanine White - Pinellas RJDC

Third Row: Kristin Stennett - Pasco RJDC, Cheyenne Murphy - Pinellas RJDC

Fourth Row: Jennifer Lizaire - Hillsborough RJDC, Keith Rutledge - Pinellas RJDC, William Powers - Manatee RJDC

Broward College Graduates

Top Row (Left to right):  Jorge Gutierrez –Collier RJDC, Travis Jones –Collier RJDC, Alaetra Wilson –Broward RJDC, Toni Robinson –Broward RJDC, Brandon Braynen –Broward RJDC

Middle Row:  Luben Soivilien –Miami-Dade RJDC, Darell Bryant –Broward RJDC, Reginald Laramore –Broward RJDC, Wilson Desir –Broward RJD, Eric Carrasquillo –Broward RJDC, Aaron Reynolds –Broward RJDC, Learning Consultant Denise Cannon


Bottom Row: Jose Morales –Palm Beach RJDC, Josianne Charelus –Collier RJDC, Patricia Nordstrom –Palm Beach RJDC, Demetria Brown –Palm Beach RJDC, Shayla Richardson –Broward RJDC, Michael Mohr –Collier RJDC, Torres Holmes –Broward RJDC

Okaloosa RJDC Graduates

First Row (Left to right):  James Miller - Bay RJDC, Tlisa Hardin – Escmbia RJDC, Hannah Johnson – Bay RJDC, Domonique Bryant – Escambia RJDC

Second Row:  William Walker –Okaloosa RJDC, Carolyn McCall – Escambia RJDC, Brittani Flanders – Bay RJDC, Anthony Morton – Escambia RJDC

Alachua RJDC Graduates

First Row (Left to right):  Latoya Strickland –Alachua RJDC, Levi Burton –Marion RJDC, Ty Pringle –Marion RJDC, Teeya Jackson –Marion RJDC, Carlos Triana –Alachua RJDC, Camilla Rawls –Duval RJDC

Second Row:  Benjamin Cruz –Alachua RJDC, Sontiana Jackson –Alachua RJDC, Chinao Fletcher –Marion RJDC, William Hodges – Duval RJDC, Angel Ferandez Duval RJDC, Reberto Devlin –Duval RJDC, Gaddiel Ruiz –Marion RJDC 

Juvenile Justice State Advisory Group Quarterly Meeting 

The Juvenile Justice State Advisory Group (SAG) held their quarterly meeting May 23-24 in Miami. Deputy Secretary Tim Niermann and Assistant Secretary for Prevention Alice Sims delivered the opening remarks, while Executive Director and Founder of My Life My Power World Daniel Puder gave the keynote address on, “Transforming the Mindset of Youth.”

After beginning Day 2 with a site visit to the Miami Youth Academy, SAG members heard updates on the National Institute of Justice research grant from Dr. Angela Bass, director of alternative education for Palm Beach County Schools and Circuit 15 Chief Probation Officer Greg Starling.

Marie Osborne, Circuit 11 circuit advisory board chair and chief assistant public defender in Circuit 11, delivered a presentation on “Understanding and Preventing Youth on Youth Violence.”

Other presentations were delivered by Haley Cutler, executive director, Oasis Center for Women and Girls in Tallahassee; Paul Wilson, on “Saluting the Youth: 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project in Miami; and Lakeesha Morris provided updates on the Cutler Bay After School program.

In the above photo (left to right): Cassandra Evans, chief probation officer, Circuit 17; Concheita Gillum, assistant chief probation officer, Circuit 11; AS Sims; Deputy Secretary Tim Niermann; Terria Flakes, south regional director; and Deputy Manager Marcus Smith. 

Detention Update

The St. Lucie RJDC held their 2016 graduation ceremony last Thursday in Fort Pierce. The facility honored three of their youth, two of which graduated from Treasure Coast High School in Port Saint Lucie, while the third graduated from Westwood High School in Fort Pierce. St. Lucie Superintendent Dedila Finlayson addressed the graduates and gave them each words of encouragement. In addition, members from the St. Lucie County School Board, the facility’s literacy coach, and the school counselor also addressed the graduates. 

The Pasco RJDC recently held a staff appreciation luncheon for those staff members who have achieved at least seven years of dedicated service to the state of Florida. The event was sponsored by the detention center’s community advisory board and the luncheon was catered by Hungry Harry’s Barbeque in Land O’Lakes. Each of the recognized officers received a framed certificate and a $25 dollar gift card. In total, these officers represented a combined 178 years of service with DJJ and the state of Florida and each of them were very grateful for being recognized. 

JJDOII James Vaz (8 years); JJDOII Michael Kinnamon (8 years); JJDOII Jonathan Buckle (12 years); JJDOII Paul Kulbok (13 years); JJDOI Luis Cajinaroleto (7 years); JJDOII Joseph Llosa (18 years); JJDOII Jason Babb (7 years); JJDOII Latasha Brinson (15 years); JJDOII Deronna Gabbard (17 years); JJDOII Jose Santiago (18 years); JJDOII Gina Creuziger (12 years); JJDOII Rita Redditt (18 years); JJDOII Debra Virgilio-Bond (25 years) and honored Superintendent Monica Gray. 

Not pictured: JJDOII Marcia Island

Probation Update

Circuit 16 JPOS Paul Armstrong attended a ceremony on May 25 at the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) where Sheriff Rick Ramsey was honored with a plaque for the MCSO’s stanch support of the Wounded Warrior Project. The plaque was presented by Marine Corps veteran John Donnelly. Donnelly was wounded in combat during Vietnam and nearly lost his life but came back home to Key West where he is a retired educator and president of the oldest black theater company, the M Ensemble. Mr. Donnelly is a charismatic speaker and shared how he turned his life around through the help of others after returning from war with a wounded body, mind and spirit. 

The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office’s Youth Explorers in Marathon recently participated in Teen Court, a juvenile diversion program based on the philosophy that youthful offenders are less likely to re-offend when their punishment is decided by a jury of their peers.

Teen Court is part of the juvenile services program provided by the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office through a contract with the Department of Juvenile Justice. DJJ would like to thank Ms. Nat Whitehouse who arranged for this session of teen court. 

I am pleased to announce that Circuit 8 JPOS Debbie Pruitt has retired effective May 31. Debbie served the state of Florida for the last 36 years and her retirement is bittersweet. Her long-standing career with DJJ was primarily as a JPO and she thoroughly enjoyed working with our youth and families. The probation staff in Circuit 8 honored her with a retirement party on May 20 and showed their greatest appreciation for the work she has done. On behalf of all of us with DJJ, we wish her well in her retirement! 

The retirement celebration continued in Circuit 9 as probation staff celebrated the retirement of JPO Sam Huddleston. Sam has served the state of Florida for the last 31 years and for the last ten years has worked as the Interstate Compact Liaison. Sam completed all home studies for youth who were coming to Circuit 9 to live and also supervised all youth who moved out of state.  Sam has been recognized many times for the excellent home studies he completed. We wish Sam nothing but the best in his retirement.

Pictured left to right:  Central Region Director Cathy Lake, JPO Sam Huddleston, CPO Jill Wells Back row:  ACPO Johnny Alderman

Probation staff in Circuit 9 participated in the 6th annual Orange County Healthy Minds, Healthy Lives community event on May 21. The event was held in conjunction with Wraparound Orange, the Federation of Families, and other stakeholders in the area. DJJ has worked with this event for the last six years and staff members accompanied probationary youth as they earned valuable community service hours for setting up and cleaning up during the event. Healthy Minds, Healthy Lives is geared towards keeping both youth and their families on a healthy track.

On May 18, a youth in the care of Circuit 13 JPO Rhonda Taylor took and successfully passed his GED requirements with the help of Paxen Community Connections. The youth will graduate on June 11 during a graduation ceremony at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa. Our stakeholders at Paxen have made sure that this youth has a cap and gown and will continue to work with him in developing leadership skills.

Circuit 10 Reform Specialist Vernolda L. Dilworth was a guest speaker during two events on May 23. On the morning of May 23, she spoke to criminal justice students from Florida Technical College about the Department’s reform efforts, the duties of a JPO as well as internships, and volunteering opportunities with DJJ. After her presentation, Vernolda was presented a certificate of appreciation from Professor Ray Pennick for her support of the college’s criminal justice program.

Later that evening, Vernolda spoke with adult probation officers at South Florida State College where she shared with them the Department’s mission and our reform work. This gave those probation officers a better understanding of our agency’s focus which is to work with the children, families, schools, law enforcement, and the community to strengthen families and turn around the lives of troubled youths.

On May 29, Circuit 17 JPO Yasha Osby received a telephone call from one of her probationary youth who was scheduled to meet with JPOS Winsome Battiste at her church that afternoon. The youth informed Yasha that her mother had a heart attack on Friday afternoon and couldn’t make the appointment. Immediately, JPO Osby sacrificed her family plans for the afternoon to spend it with both the youth and his sister who have been at the hospital since their mother was admitted. The youth were very appreciative of Yasha as she stood with them as their mother was declared brain dead. As we continue to pray for the two children during this trying time I would like to thank JPO Osby for standing by this family during such an emotional crisis. You have truly gone above and beyond the call of duty! 

Lead Transition Coordinator LaShune Norwood and Career Services Coordinator Jackie Rhaheed from the Eckerd Project Bridge Program met with State Representative Larry Lee, Scott Van Duzer of the Van Duzer Foundation, and Fort Pierce Chief of Police Kenny Norris during a weekly community outreach program in Circuit 19 on May 24. The First Step program is partnering with different agencies in order to provide the best and most efficient resource for the youth in the community.  This event is held every Tuesday of the month from 4:30 pm to 5:30 pm where the community comes together to provide demonstrations, mentoring events, recreational activities  and the opportunity to feed the youth after receiving a wealth of information. 

Circuit 17 JPO Janice Charlassier made a presentation to students from a criminology class at Florida Technical College on May 25. Janice provided an overview of the juvenile justice system and reviewed sample documents to provide them with a visual example of the forms that needed to be completed. The students were very engaged and asked great questions.  Janice received compliments from the head of the criminology justice department and was invited to return. 

Education Update

Kevin M., a sophomore at Duval Academy in Jacksonville, Florida, has just been announced a winner in the 2016 "Words Unlocked" Poetry Competition. His English and Creative Writing Teacher, Mrs. Collins-Rothenberg, worked with him outside of class on his writing, and selected a poem to submit to the contest that truly embodied the contest's theme of "interconnectedness." His poem, "My Reality," tied for first place among applicants from all over the country. Not only did he win a $100 cash prize, but his poem will also be published in the Words Unlocked Anthology. There will also be 9 other Florida poets in this anthology, whose work advanced through two rigorous rounds of review. Congratulations, Kevin! 

To read more on this story, see NPR’s All Things Considered

Residential Update   

At Cypress Creek Juvenile Offender Correctional Center, a maximum-risk program for boys, ages 13 to 21, which is operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC, residents who are not currently enrolled in college-level courses participate in the Home Builders Institute “big truck simulator” class.  The students learn about the rules of the road for an array of vehicles from forklifts to school buses to tractor-trailers.  At the end of the simulator class, the residents take the exam to earn their Commercial Driver’s License (CDL).  Students recently had the opportunity to meet a tractor-trailer truck driver and learn about their pre-trip inspections, safety measures, rest requirements, truck weight limitations, and required logs.  

Recently, a graduation ceremony was held at Palm Beach Youth Academy, a high-risk program for boys, ages 15 to 21, which is operated by Sequel TSI of Florida, LLCEight current students earned their high school diplomas.  A ninth, former resident flew in from his new home in Texas to take part in the ceremony and participate in what he considered his graduating class.  All students had members of their families in attendance to honor all of their accomplishments.  

Representative Bobby Powell was the keynote speaker for the ceremony.  He offered insightful words of inspiration and encouragement to the graduates.  Also in attendance were Palm Beach County School Board Member Marcia Andrews, Palm Beach County School District Director of Alternative Education Angela Bess, District Aide to Representative Powell Jervonte Edmonds, and Chief of the Juvenile Division for the 15th Circuit Public Defender’s Office Schnelle Tonge

Afterward, a celebratory reception was held for all attendees that showcased the sustained partnership between Sequel TSI of Florida, LLC and the School District of Palm Beach County.

Recently, the residents of the Melbourne Center for Personal Growth, a non-secure program for boys, ages 12 to 18, which is operated by AMIkids, Inc., were invited to visit the Harry T. & Harriette V. Moore Cultural Center in Mims, Florida.  While there, the boys toured the Moore Home, which was rebuilt and preserved as a museum after it was fire bombed during the civil rights era.  The Moore's established the first NAACP branch in Brevard County.  Beginning in the 1930s, they were instrumental in helping more than 100,000 African Americans throughout Florida register to vote.  Overall, the trip to the Moore Cultural Center allowed the residents to learn about an important era of our state’s history.

Additionally, the science class from the program recently visited the Brevard Zoo, which tied into this month’s main subject area for the class.  The zoo’s emphasis on science education and ecological literacy assists in shaping the next generation of conscious citizens.  While exploring and learning about the animals, the students also had the opportunity to ask questions of the zoo custodians. 

Prevention Update

Community Engagement Coordinator Verla Lawson-Grady attended the 9th annual Social Services Bazaar on May 13 at the Leon County Human Services Center in Tallahassee. Verla set up a DJJ display at the bazaar developed to increase awareness of services for children and families and to strengthen collaborative relationships. As partners committed to improving community-wide care for children and families the bazaar consists of social service providers and various state agencies.

Participants included DJJ, Department of Children & Families, Department of Health, Florida A&M University, Florida State University, Boys Town, CCYS, Livingstones International, the Foster Care Network, Magellan Care, United Way/411, Division of Blind Services, mental health substance abuse providers, grandparents-as-parents and other partners. There were approximately 150 attendees.

Assistant Secretary for Prevention Alice Sims attended the “Throw a Girl a Lifeline,” luncheon hosted by the PACE Center for Girls of Leon County on May 3 in Tallahassee. During the luncheon, guests learned more about the foundation of PACE’s gender responsive/trauma informed model and the success the program has achieved in preventing involvement in the juvenile justice system.

Former PACE student Amani Williams read a poem she wrote about PACE in her recently published book of Poetry “Peace Poems.” The PACE Spoken Word Group performed a piece entitled “Lifeline.”  Current student Kayla G. and her mother Barbara Joe shared their reasons for choosing PACE and how the program had helped Kayla deal with challenges she faced.

The highlight was hearing from former student Kristel Avilus who shared how PACE Leon helped her many years ago and how she had just graduated from Thomas University and been hired as the new Spirited Girls teacher there.  Guests included Florida Representative Alan Williams, Tallahassee City Commissioner Gil Ziffer, Leon County Commissioners Kristin Dozier and Nick Maddox as well as representatives from the Leon County school district, sheriff’s office, the judiciary and more.