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Secretary's Message

July 5, 2016

Secretary Daly’s Weekly Letter 

The hot humid days and rainy afternoons are a clear indication that summer is in full swing!  I hope that each of you had a wonderful Independence Day holiday and are enjoying your summer thus far. Despite the shorter work week, our DJJ staff, providers, and stakeholders were hard at work continuing to better the lives of Florida’s youth and families.

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 Detention Cost-Share Bill Signing 

Last Wednesday, I had the honor and privilege to join Governor Rick Scott for a bill signing ceremony at the Florida Association of Counties (FAC) Annual Conference in Orlando. Governor Scott ceremonially signed SB 1322, which establishes a 50-50 split of juvenile detention costs between the state of Florida and certain counties. I am so thankful for the leadership of Governor Scott and the hard work of our bill sponsors, Senator Jack Latvala and Representative Chris Latvala, in passing this legislation.

At the ceremony, Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) Commissioner Swearingen also announced that FDLE will begin waiving the records expungement application fee for juveniles following their completion of a pre-arrest or post-arrest diversion program or those in the care of a foster family starting July 1.

This was truly a wonderful day and one that makes me so appreciate of the partnerships our agency has with our Governor, Legislature, and sister agencies. I am excited to continue to stand together with each of them in our shared commitment in reducing juvenile delinquency and making our communities safer.

Florida Association of Counties Annual Meeting

Also on Wednesday, I hosted a breakout session and panel discussion entitled “Civil Citations- A Path to a Better Future,” at the FAC Conference. Joining me on the panel were President Greg Frost from the Civil Citation Network and County Miami-Dade County Commissioner  Sally  Heyman. The panel was designed to inform county leaders on how best to reduce arrests and recidivism through appropriate use of alternative diversion and treatment programs. I was excited to highlight the efforts DJJ has made in enhancing the use of civil citation statewide.  

Orange Detention Center and Probation Team Visits  

On Thursday, I met with Superintendent Wolf and detention staff at the Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center and following that meeting had a visit with the Circuit 9 Probation team in Orlando.

During my visit with both detention and probation staff, I was able to answer questions and had a great discussion with staff on their input and suggestions for the Department. I appreciate the staff’s candor and would like to thank them again for their hard work and dedication to our agency and for the important role they each play in helping to turn around the lives of the youth in our juvenile justice system.

Legislative Update 

New Laws In Effect on July 1, 2016 

A total of 162 bills from the 2016 Regular Legislative Session took effect on July 1, 2016, including the HB 5001 the 2016-17 General Appropriations Act, and HB 5003 the Implementing Bill, SB 386 relating to Expunction of Records of Minors, and HB 7061 relating to the Department of Transportation. For detailed information on these and other bills that impact DJJ, please reference the Department’s 2016 Legislative Wrap-Up Report here.

Bills that Impact DJJ that Take Effect July 1, 2016:

  • SB 12 (Garcia) Relating to Mental Health and Substance Abuse
  • HB 183 (Adkins) Relating to Administrative Procedures
  • HB 241 (Harrell) Relating to Children and Youth Cabinet
  • SB 386 (Detert) Relating to Expunction of Records of Minors
  • HB 439 (McBurney) Relating to Mental Health Services in the Criminal Justice System
  • HB 5001 (Appropriations Committee) Relating to General Appropriations Act
  • HB 5003 (Appropriations Committee) Relating to Implementing the 2016-17 General Appropriations Act
  • HB 5005 (Appropriations Committee) Relating to State-administered Retirement Systems
  • HB 7061 (Santiago) Relating to Transportation

Bill Highlights

SB 386 makes two key changes to the expunction process of the records of minors. First, the bill allows FDLE to automatically expunge the records of certain youth who have not been committed to a juvenile residential facility when the minor reaches 21 years of age instead of 24 years of age. The bill also eliminates the one-year time limit that an application for prearrest or postarrest diversion expunction be submitted, allowing application to take place at any point following diversion completion. As stated previously, FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen announced through a partnership with DJJ and the Children’s Campaign, FDLE will waive the $75 records expungement application fee for juveniles following their completion of a pre-arrest or post-arrest diversion program or those in the care of a foster family starting July 1. This change will remove barriers some youth face when attempting to clear their non-violent, misdemeanor record and make it easier for youth to get an education and obtain employment.

HB 7061, which included priority language by DJJ and the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV), allows DHSMV to provide a no-cost original, renewal, or replacement identification card to a youth in the custody or under the supervision of the Department of Juvenile Justice and receiving services. The issuance of the no-cost identification card will be processed by DHSMV’s mobile issuing units. To kick off implementation, on July 1, 2016, DJJ hosted representatives from DHSMV and a Florida Licensing on Wheels (FLOW) vehicle for a tour and trial of the new issuance process for DJJ youth. The two Departments are working to schedule issuance events for our youth around the state.

Detention Update 

I’m pleased to share the following thank you letter that was sent to us from a youth who was previously detained at the Manatee RJDC. The youth spoke of the dedicated staff at Manatee who helped him through his stay.  Several of the people that he mentioned were JJDO’s Sade Brown, Jason Bottoms and John Swartz.

Thank you to the team at Manatee for going above and beyond for the youth at the detention facility! 

The St. Lucie RJDC held an appreciation ceremony on June 14 for Sergeant William Durden who celebrated his 30th year of dedicated service to DJJ and the state of Florida. Sergeant Durden is motivated by his passion for people, specifically our youth who he always takes the time to encourage. He is well-known in the community and is an active member of his church. The St. Lucie RJDC were happy to honor him for his dedication, his good work at the RJDC, and most importantly, for making a difference in the lives of troubled youth. 

From left to right: Dedilia Finlayson, DS, William Durden, JJDOS, Altha Smith, AA and Sharon Durden, Sergeant Durden's wife.

The Alachua RJDC recently welcomed detention officers supervisors from across the state to the detention facility for training.  These supervisors learned best practices on how to make their own facilities more efficient. The training also gave the supervisors the opportunity to network and meet with their fellow officers. 

Juvenile Justice Officer Academy Graduation Ceremony

Congratulations to the newest Juvenile Justice Detention Officers (JDO) who graduated Friday, July 1, 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 Dixie Fosler, Assistant Secretary for Detention Services, for delivering the graduation address for the JDO graduation. Kudos to Senior Learning Consultant Duane Pace 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.

(Left to right):  Anthony McColly – SW FL, Brickler Gammon - Leon, Jonathon Miller – SW FL, Raetrecia Daniel – St. Lucie, Emanuel Delgado – SW FL, Brian Cobo – SW FL, Quartney Dean - Leon, Tabathia Holmes - Pinellas, David Mulholland – SW FL, Labertha Smith - Leon, Damarius Carter - Duval, Juwaun Fanning - Duval, Cheryl Taylor – St. Lucie, Bakari Harris - Leon, Elysee Etienne - Collier, Darnisha Dismukes - Leon, Eddie Turner - Manatee, Sergelyn Saint-Jean - Leon, Jeastina Reynolds – St. Lucie, Sonjay Campbell – St. Lucie, Lamar Calahan - Collier, Frank Watkins – St. Lucie, Bobbie Townsend – St. Lucie and Jamaurie Lockett – SW FL

Education Update

The education program at the Pompano Youth Treatment Center (PYTC) welcomed guests from the Youth Automotive Training Center (YATC) in Deerfield Beach to speak to the students there about careers in the automotive industry. After the YATC made their presentation, three PYTC students completed applications for interviews at the school upon their release from the program.

Founded by automotive legend Jim Moran in 1984, YATC’s tuition-free, nine month training program gives at risk and disadvantaged youth a much-needed chance to jump start their lives.  The school supports a culturally diverse population, welcoming students of any race, gender, color, nationality, or ethnic origin. Their mission is to train and educate at risk youth in basic automotive repair skills, academic remediation, job readiness, and life management skills. 

Health Services Update

Recently, Director of Mental Health Dr. Gayla Sumner and Senior Behavioral Analyst Joy Bennink from the Office of Health Services along with Senior Management Analyst Supervisor Elaine Atwood from the Office of Probation held a two day webinar regarding comprehensive evaluations. The training welcomed over 150 DJJ staff members included JPOs, CPOs, and administrative staff from around the state. 

The training provided an in-depth overview of upcoming fiscal year changes to the scope of services for comprehensive evaluations. This includes the service limits and protocols required in each of the five domains for standard comprehensive evaluations, specialized evaluation add-ons, the referral process and timeframes, and qualifications of providers.  Specialized evaluation add-ons are specific evaluations which are provided in addition to the standard comprehensive evaluation including psychological, psychiatric, and psychosexual evaluations.   

Future trainings and materials will be offered and available as the new scope of services branches out to other circuits over the next year.  A webinar for providers is being scheduled for late June, and a webinar for Commitment Managers and Contract Managers is being scheduled for early July.  Special thanks to Donna Gulley, Juliet Westmoreland, and Ashley Schwab for assisting with the training.  

From left to right: Elaine Atwood, Gayla Sumner, Joy Bennink, Ashley Schwab, Juliet Westmoreland

Prevention Update 

The PACE Center for Girls in Miami held their graduation and transition ceremony at the Miami African Heritage Cultural Arts Center. At the first ever graduation and transition ceremony, PACE Center for Girls Miami were honored before 100 parents, guardians, and community and school leaders, PACE Miami partners, and proud PACE Miami team members. The girls worked so hard to improve their scholastic standings and to achieve the greatness of high school graduation! Among the honored guests were: Dr. Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall, Vice Chair of the Miami-Dade County Public School Board and Michelle Prescott of Prescott Law Firm.  Ms. Prescott also delivered the commencement address.

Community Engagement Coordinator Verla Lawson-Grady attended the annual commemoration of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation at the North Florida Fairgrounds in Tallahassee, In addition, the 2nd Infantry Regiment U.S. Colored Troops reenactment unit hosted the 4th Annual Season of Emancipation: “Walk through Living History Festival Parade and Day in the Park.”

This family-oriented event celebrated the reading of the Emancipation Proclamation that took place in Tallahassee in 1865 ending slavery in the state of Florida. The day began with a parade and there were approximately 300 attendees. Descendants of Black Seminoles and re-enactors in period dress representing the United States Colored Troops, Buffalo Soldiers and others were featured in living a history demonstration. There were activities and performers for all ages.

Verla staffed a DJJ display which showcased the agency’s mission and vision and included brochures and educational materials regarding prevention services, mentoring, civil citation, human trafficking, PREA, and The Roadmap to System Excellence.

In the above photo are Verla Lawson Grady (left) and Tallahassee Police Department Officer Sheeree Bryant

Assistant Secretary for Prevention and Victim Services Alice Sims spoke with a group of youth from the Running Fire Track Club from West Palm Beach on June 25 at the Mike Long Track at Florida State University. Alice encouraged these young people to set attainable goals, spoke about perseverance and hard work and to always remember the 3-D’s – Dedication, Determination and Discipline. 

Alice also shared with the young athletes her experiences as a young track athlete and the tools that helped her to become a 7-time All-American at FSU.  Over 20 of the youth from Running Fire Track Club qualified to participate in the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Junior Olympics to be held from August 1-6 in Houston. Approximately 800 youth from around the State of Florida competed in the meet with other youth participating from Georgia and Alabama.

Thank you Deputy Secretary Tim Niermann for showing your support and attending the meet. Congratulations to the following DJJ staff: Cheryl Howard, Chantelle Dishman, SaTora Gomilla and Whitley Waymon for their outstanding volunteer service.  Although DJJ staff Lona Blount was unable to volunteer, her twins, Justin and Jasmine donated their time at the event. 

In the photo above: Rod Smith Sr., Head Coach, Running Fire Track Club and Alice Sims

Probation Update

Students from AMIkids Space Coast and AMIkids Volusia recently set sail on the waters of Tampa Bay to experience learning science firsthand.

"The experience on the Orlando’s Rose was amazing,” said Isaiah G. with AMIkids Space Coast. “I had the chance to go snorkeling and learn about mangroves and plankton. It was a blast!"

Earlier this month, nearly a dozen AMIkids students participated in the “Floating Classroom” aboard Orlando’s Rose. The vessel, which was donated in 2014 by Bill and Carol Barrows, is a 65-foot Silvership that was given to AMIkids with the sole purpose of providing students the opportunity to learn about boating safety and experience the local marine environment hands on, all while developing a sense of teamwork with each other.

"It's a lot of fun to get out of the classroom and study science on the water. This is my first experience on a boat, and I am happy that AMIkids gave me this opportunity," Roshanda L. with AMIkids Volusia said.

These students earned the special opportunity to travel across the state thanks in part to their academic and behavioral achievements in their individual programs. In fact, AMIkids partners with Mote Marine Laboratory to deliver lessons on biodiversity and the overall marine ecosystem in Tampa Bay with youth getting the chance to use scientific equipment to collect research data and perform projects in the field during their time on the “Floating Classroom.”

"It's awesome to learn about different marine life in their actual environment,” AMIkids Space Coast’s Anton H. said, describing his experience. “I've never experienced anything like this before, and it makes me want to continue doing well at the program, so that I can do more outside activities." 

I would like to congratulate JPO Devin Robinson who was named Circuit 19 Employee of the Quarter for the first quarter of 2016. Devin has been with the Department for two years and maintains an effective working relationship with his peers. Devin consistently goes beyond the scope of this position. Often times he will pick up youth from their homes and transport them to the probation office and to complete community service hours. In addition, Devin will provide meals to those youth in his care who are hungry. Devin is a valuable member to the Circuit 19 probation team and on behalf of DJJ, I would like to congratulate him on receiving this well-deserved honor!  

In addition, I am pleased to announce that Circuit 19 JPO Kawanda Jones has been named Employee of the Quarter for the second quarter of 2016. Kawanda has been employed with DJJ probation for 18 years, but is a recent addition to the Circuit 19 staff. Kawanda brought her talent and expertise to the position and carries an intake and sex offender caseload which can be a challenging one for our JPOs.  As the court liaison, she represents the Circuit in a professional manner and is well respected by the judiciary as well as her co-workers. She is a welcomed addition to the probation staff in Circuit 19, and I congratulate her on a job well done! 

In a much sadder staff announcement, Circuit 19 Reform Specialist Michelle Simpson will be leaving the Department on July 7, as she will be moving out of state to Vermont. An employee with DJJ for 19 years, Michelle became the Reform Specialist for the Circuit back in 2013. Prior to that, she served as both a JPO and a DIO for many years.

Michelle excelled in all that she did and will be tremendously missed. Many of the probation stories that you have seen in the weekly letter from Circuit 19 came from Michelle’s desk and she has always done a phenomenal job highlighting the activities in her circuit. Statewide Reform Coordinator Elizabeth Phillips said of Michelle, “She is a shining example within the state of true passion, and the next Reform Specialist has HUGE shoes to fill.” Thank you Michelle for your outstanding services to DJJ and we wish you well in your future endeavors! 

Residential Update 

The residents of Cypress Creek Juvenile Offender Correctional Center, a maximum-risk program for boys, ages 13 to 21, which is operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC, recently participated in several transition activities that were developed by the treatment team to help the boys learn skills for daily living.  They learned how to iron clothes and how to properly tie a tie.  In addition, after completing a Florida Ready to Work job preparation program, a food handlers, or a food managers course, the residents participate in mock job interviews with staff playing the role of a hiring employer. Members of the Cypress Creek Advisory Board conduct a final interview with the students to further sharpen their skills.

The Palm Beach Youth Academy, a high-risk program for boys, ages 15 to 21, which is operated by Sequel TSI of Florida, LLC, hosted a Father’s Day luncheon for the residents who are fathers.  The program welcomed the members of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity who spoke to the young fathers about the importance of fatherhood and the significant impact that a father has on a child’s life.  In addition to enjoying a special meal, each dad received a “Number One Dad” shirt, various treats, and a certificate.  

Shown above (left to right): Program Manager Gary Brannen, Recreational Specialist Gregory Moreland, Retired Private Investigator Ed Shelton, Author Steve White, and Community Activist Bishop Granger 

The residents of Duval Academy, a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by Youth Services International, Inc., recently participated in an open mic night event.  This monthly event is organized by the Duval Academy Advisory Board and the Sassy Seniors and Steppers.  The room is always filled with high spirits, and everyone enjoys the food, fellowship, and fun.  The residents gain self-confidence while advancing their social skills through this wonderful team-building activity.