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Secretary's Message

August 15, 2016

Secretary Daly’s Weekly Letter 

As the summer begins to wind down and we approach the middle of August, now is the time when  parents, children, and teachers busily prepare for the start of the new school year. The beginning of the school year approaches for many students and has even begun for some around our state. The start of the school year signifies new beginnings for our students and new opportunities to learn and grow. Research indicates that having problems in school is considered a major risk factor for criminal offending, and it’s with that in mind that I encourage all of you ensure that our children are prepared so that they may reach their full potential. Education is a key factor in keeping kids out of the juvenile justice system and being prepared is critical to their academic success. I wish all of our students the best of luck and abundant success during this upcoming year.

As a reminder, don’t forget that I am always looking for opportunities to showcase the work you all 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 National Forum on Criminal Justice

On Monday, I was honored to give a presentation at the 2016 National Forum on Criminal Justice in Philadelphia. My presentation, during a breakout session entitled “Getting Smart on Juvenile Justice: Implementing Statewide Juvenile Justice Reform,” provided an overview of the Department’s system reforms, the use of structured decision making for youth placement, and declining delinquency trends in Florida.

Sponsored by the National Criminal Justice Association, the Justice Research and Statistics Association, and the Integrated Justice Information Systems (IJIS) Institute, the forum showcases programs, research, and technologies that help address public safety concerns and brings together leaders from federal, state, local government and the public and private sector to share real world strategies and solutions. It was truly an honor to take part in this important and informative forum. 

Bridging the G.A.A.P. Conversation

Gaining Appreciation by Adjusting Perspectives (G.A.A.P.)

Last Thursday, Deputy Secretary Tim Niermann, Assistant Secretary for Prevention and Victim Services Alice Sims took part in an award presentation during a Bridging the G.A.A.P (Gaining Appreciation by Adjusting Perspectives) Conversation between youth and local law enforcement at the Childs Park Recreation Center in St. Petersburg. This special ceremony was a collaboration between the St. Petersburg Police Department, the Florida Juvenile Justice Foundation and the Childs Park Community Center.

The G.A.A.P conversation provided an effective, non-threatening, relationship-building forum where youth developed a better understanding of the roles and responsibilities of law enforcement and where law enforcement officers gained a wider perspective of “youth’s current world view.”  The forum involved 18 law enforcement officers from the St. Petersburg Police Department and the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office and 21 youth from the following programs: AMI KIDS, JDAP, Childs Park Neighborhood Association, PACE, Men in the Making, and Gen 2. The facilitator was Pastor Dexter McCree of Anointed Word Fellowship Ministries.

In addition, our agency honored individuals from the community for their commitment to providing services to youth in Pinellas County which helps prevent youth from entering or going deeper into the system. Deputy Niermann and Assistant Secretary Sims handed out awards to the following honorees:

Pastor Cindy Lane, G4S and Chair for the Circuit 6 & 13 Faith-Network Steering Committee; Pastor Dexter McCree; Pastor Martin Rainey, Minister of Christian Education, Trinity Presbyterian Church;  The Honorable Patrice Moore, Unified Family Court Administrative Judge in the Sixth Judicial Circuit; Pinellas County School Board Member Rene Flowers; Sgt. Cynthia Davis, St. Petersburg Police Department; Officer David Lopez, St. Petersburg Police Department (PAL); Michael Jeffries, Director, City of St. Petersburg Parks and Recreation; Brother John Muhammad, Childs Park Neighborhood Association; Deborah Figgs-Sanders, Director, Childs Park YMCA; and Theresa Lassiter (Momma Tee), Community Activist.

I would like to thank Delinquency Prevention Specialist Pat McGhee, Community Engagement Coordinator Verla Lawson-Grady, Special Project Coordinator Jill Gould and Circuit 6 Reform Specialist Adrienne Conwell for organizing this special event, as well as the following prevention and probation staff members who volunteered to make this event successful:

JPOs Deon Wimberly, Yvette Carethers, Melanie Phelps, and Christian Allen; Senior JPO Nikki Branham; JPO Supervisors Marilyn Walker, Jared White, and Barbara Koppelmann; Administrative Support Elizabeth Gattarello, Administrative Support Staff Nivea Malave; CPO Melissa Fuller; Circuit 6 JDAI Coordinator Karin Popkowski; Faith Network Coordinator Craig Swain; Delinquency Prevention Specialists Marie Boswell, and Onazina Washington; Federal Programs Liaison Diamond Ragin; and Procurement Specialist Shaundra Mitchell.

Pictured left (L – R): Deputy Secretary Tim Niermann; Assistant Secretary Prevention and Victim Services Alice Sims; Delinquency Prevention Specialist Pat McGhee; and Community Engagement Coordinator Verla Lawson. Pictured right (L – R): Deputy Secretary Tim Niermann; Reform Specialist Adrienne Conwell; Assistant Secretary Prevention and Victim Services Alice Sims; Pastor Dexter McCree and Delinquency Prevention Specialist Pat McGhee

Juvenile Justice Officer Academy Graduation Ceremony

Congratulations to the newest juvenile justice probation officers (JPO) who graduated at Broward College on August 12th.  Thanks to Newton Sanon, President/CEO for OIC of South Florida, for delivering the graduation address for the JPO graduation. Kudos to Learning Consultant Manager Andrea Minnis, Learning Consultant Denise Cannon, Senior Learning Specialist Artavia Parrish and the adjunct instructors for training the officers in these positions of critical responsibility. The graduates will work in the probation circuits listed next to their names.

Broward College Graduates

Christopher Cromartie – Circuit 15, Yazmin Davis – Circuit 11, Margarette Eugene – Circuit 17, Rosa Feliciano-Mendez – Circuit 15, Betty Fertil – Circuit 11, Nathaniel Francis – Circuit 11, Raul Garrao – Circuit 17, Johnson Jean – Circuit 17, Betty Jeune – Circuit 15, Trudian Johnson – Circuit 17, Willetta Kendrick – Circuit 11, Janelle May – Circuit 17, Cody Nelson – Circuit 17, Karla Ocampo – Circuit 11, Maria Ozuna – Circuit 15, Chivorne Pemberton – Circuit 17, Nancie Ramsay – Circuit 17, Marcus Ransom – Circuit 17, Jenelle Robert – Circuit 17, Sean Segal – Circuit 17, Angelina Smith – Circuit 17, Hakime St. Cyr – Circuit 17, Del Vil-Toussaint – Circuit 17, Akeem Jones – Circuit 15

Human Trafficking Update

The last two weeks have been very busy for our human trafficking team. Last week, Human Trafficking Director Bethany Gilot had the opportunity to attend St. Thomas University’s School of Law Human Trafficking Academy alongside juvenile probation staff from Circuit 11 and Circuit 17.  The week-long academy provided in-depth information on both labor trafficking and sex trafficking from a variety of experts in the field. Along with Bethany, the following juvenile probation staff participated in the training:  Johande Serrano, Christina Atwell and Tina Robinson from Circuit 17, Maria Gilhooley, Joann Law, Melissa Berroa, Wendy Scarborough, Rolle and Christina Fiebeck from Circuit 11.  Thank you to all of the staff members that dedicated their week to learning about human trafficking.

In the week prior, Bethany trained Florida Network of Youth and Family Services’ partners in Tampa and Orlando as part of a nine-month Human Trafficking Screening Tool Pilot Project initiated by the Florida Network. Bethany also had the opportunity to travel to Atlanta to participate in a human trafficking stakeholders meeting hosted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Representatives from eight states in the southeastern region met to learn about each state’s respective effort on human trafficking and to develop a plan for future collaborative efforts.  

Florida Faith Symposium

Registration is now open for the 2016 Florida Faith Symposium!

The seventh annual Florida Faith Symposium will be held November 2-3, 2016, at the Wyndham Orlando Resort in Orlando. The Faith Symposium connects conference attendees to resources, best practices, and training to enhance faith and community-based programs that serve youth and struggling families.

This event is hosted by the Florida Department of Children and Families, the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, in partnership with the Florida Faith-Based and Community-Based Advisory Council and other statewide partners. Throughout the conference there will be more than 35 educational sessions and exhibit booths.

You can register here to take advantage of the early bird special! 

Detention Update

The youth from the Hillsborough RJDC are now ready to start the new school year off right thanks to a very generous donation from several area stakeholders. The facility’s Chaplain Dianne Marchman and Pastor Tommy from Crossover Church in Tampa donated a total of 50 backpacks that were filled with school supplies. Thank you so much to these dedicated stakeholders in their support of these young people and their academic success. 

Dr. Jerome Covington, the designated health authority (DHA) from the Monroe RJDC, was recently honored with the Jessie Trice Outstanding Clinician Award from the Florida Association of Community Health Centers (FACHC) during their 35th Anniversary Green Tie Gala and Awards Ceremony in Fort Lauderdale on August 2. Each year, the FACHC selects a clinician for their outstanding commitment in providing services for the underserved; their dedication to continuous quality improvement, evidence- based medicine and healthcare innovation; their willingness to “go the extra mile” for their patients and to work collaboratively with peers to ensure the best possible outcomes for all their patients. On behalf of the entire department, I would like to congratulate Dr. Covington on this tremendous honor. The facility in Monroe is fortunate to have him as their DHA.

Last week, Detention Services – North Region conducted a meeting with their facility maintenance staff.  The group was greeted and welcomed by Assistance Secretary Dixie Fosler.  Some of the topics discussed during the meeting included the facility maintenance guidebook, facility improvement projects, inspections, and facility operating procedures.  Aaron Davis from Facility Services also visited the group to discuss storage tank registration and conducted a Q&A session with the group. 

Prevention Update

The PACE Center for Girls of Palm Beach County learned lessons in ‘Teaching Tolerance’ last month as they welcomed motivational speaker Mary Cay Martin to the center. Ms. Martin has been confined to a wheelchair for the last 23 years of her life.  After giving birth to her son, a virus attacked her spinal cord and overnight Martin lost the use of her limbs. She reflected on the changes and accommodations required to adjust to life in a wheelchair. In addition, she provided information regarding careers such as occupational therapy to assist individuals in her situation. All the girls participated in an experiential activity to gain first-hand knowledge of the challenges faced on a daily basis by individuals who are wheelchair bound. Each girl had a list of activities to complete while sitting in a wheelchair.

 PACE girls were moved by Ms. Martin’s inspirational presentation. Carol wrote “Ms. Mary Cay is sweet, beautiful, strong and she’s really funny. She made me laugh a lot and her speech was very important.”  The hardest part of the event was realizing “I had to put my hands on the wheels and just keep going.” Reanna wrote that Ms. Mary Cay’s speech made her tear up after she realized she lost the person (her husband) who had helped her the most. Madison was struck by the way “she had to learn to live her life completely differently than her original life.” She said “next time I see someone that needs help I will help them without thinking about it.”  She also wrote “Ms. Mary Cay is so amazing, strong, and confident. She is so brave and she is really inspiring.”

It was truly an eye-opening experience. This activity is one example of some of the Center exercises used over the last six months to teach tolerance.  Recognizing and respecting others who are different is critical to empowering and strengthening the community. A special thank you to Ms. Martin for coming to speak to these young ladies and to Clinics Can Help, which provided the wheelchairs for the activity.

Delinquency Prevention Specialist Marie Boswell joined FLIPANY (Florida Introduces Physical Activity and Nutrition to Youth) and the New Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church on July 29 to distribute free food to deserving residents. FLIPANY featured a food demonstration of preparing healthy meals using some of the products distributed. More than 160 families received food. FLIPANY’s mission is to empower youth and their families through physical activity and nutrition education programs while raising awareness and creating policies for healthier communities.

FLIPANY is the lead Florida partner of the Share Our Strength’s Cooking Matters® Program, nationally sponsored by the ConAgra Foods® Foundation and Wal-Mart. Cooking Matter’s collaborative program model connects families with food by teaching them how to prepare healthy, tasty meals on a limited budget. Professional chefs and nutritionists volunteer their time and expertise to lead hands-on courses that teach adults and youth how to purchase and prepare healthy foods in safe and tasty ways.

Youth from Camp Rise assisted in distributing the food to the recipients and assisted the elderly and handicapped in carrying the food to their homes and/or vehicles. The feedback from the community on the quality and quantity of the items received made this volunteer effort rewarding, despite the sweltering heat.

Delinquency Prevention Specialist Lydia Breaux-Davis and JPO Supervisor Mary Grier took part in “National Night Out” activities earlier in August at Lexington Terrace park in Pensacola. The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office hosted the event where anti-bullying backpacks and school supplies were provided to the youths and their families along with pamphlets on DJJ prevention programs. This “National Night Out” event was a collaboration of Pensacola Police Department, Escambia Sheriff’s Office, and the Community Drug and Alcohol Council, Inc. A special thank you to Target for serving as the corporate sponsor for the event and providing free school supplies and refreshments.  

In the above photo (from left to right): Jamie Cochran, Community Outreach, Lutheran Services; Lydia Breaux-Davis, Delinquency Prevention Specialist; and Mary Grier, JPO Supervisor.

Probation Update 

Circuit 6 probation staff collaborated with the City of St. Petersburg Parks and Recreation Department and the Lakewood Junior Spartans Football Organization to set up a vendor table during their football jamboree on August 6. The jamboree also had vendor tables from the St. Petersburg Parks and Recreation, Family Resources, AMIkids, Suncoast Center and the St. Petersburg Police Department. This event gave families the opportunity to obtain information on resources in preparation of the new school year.

On August 4, Reform Specialist Adrienne Conwell from Circuit 6 and JDAI Coordinator Gina Gibbs along with psychologist Adele Solozzo and Public Defender Irene Maslanik met with staff from the Calvin Hunsinger School to discuss the establishment of a restorative justice model at the school. The meeting was attended by educational staff, the school’s principal and the school resource officer who were all eager to be trained and implement restorative justice practices during the upcoming school year, which we hope will lead to reduced school arrests.

ACPO Joyce Clay and JDAI Coordinator Karin Popkowski from Circuit 6 met with about 50 school resource officers (SRO) on August 4 to discuss changes implemented by the Department and to answer any questions they may have in anticipation of the upcoming school year. The goal of this meeting was to ensure an open line of communication between the school resource officers and the probation staff; SROs were encouraged to call JPOs regarding youth at their respective schools, in the case of potential issues. In addition, Joyce and Karin led a brief discussion regarding the new Habitual Offender Monitoring Enforcement (H.O.M.E.) unit as well as JDAI initiatives. 

Circuit 12 JPO Matt Borboa accompanied one of his probationary youth to Washington, D.C. as they attended the 2016 Juvenile Justice Youth Summit on August 2-3 entitled, “Agents of Change: Rethinking, Reshaping and Reforming the Juvenile Justice System.” This event brought together emerging leaders under the age of 25 who are interested in juvenile justice reform. During the two-day conference they mingled with other youth and leaders to gain a better understanding of the current juvenile justice system, examine trending reform topics, and participate in various skill-building, hands-on activities.

The 15-year old probationary youth had never left the state of Florida or flown on an airplane, and it was a very exciting experience for him. Matt was able to share DJJ’s mission and voiced his concerns on how to prevent youth from going deeper in the juvenile justice system in Sarasota County. Matt said that the youth was able to reflect on his story and the barriers in his life and made new friends along the way. 

Circuit 13 JPO Jimmy Close, Jr. joined the Plant City Housing Authority as they celebrated the grand opening of the new community police substation in Plant City on July 27. Housing Authority Director Patricia Dexter and Plant City Police Chief Ed Duncan along with various city officials were on hand to celebrate the opening of the substation and how it helps provide a safe environment for the citizens of Plant City. Jimmy said it was a joyous occasion witnessing members of the community mingle with city officials. The event provided refreshments, face painting for the kids, and an inflatable bounce house.

Residential Update

Two students at Youth Environmental Services (YES), a non-secure program for boys, ages 15 to 18, which is operated by AMIKids, Inc., were offered paid internships at McDonald’s at the beginning of this month!  Following their interviews, both boys were hired on the spot.  About a week before their interviews, YES Career Coordinator Sonja Johnson and Recreational Therapist Tony Altman met with the McDonald’s manager in Wimauma to advocate on behalf of the programs’ students who are workforce prepared.  These two boys will be able to develop a specific skill set that will support their successes as they get closer to completing their treatment goals in the program and to transitioning home.  Their stories are especially encouraging and inspiring for the other program residents.  

Saint John’s Youth Academy, a high-risk program for boys, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by Sequel TSI of Florida, LLC, recently began a new pet therapy program in partnership with the Pixel Fund, a not-for-profit organization that works to rescue pets from shelters where they would otherwise be euthanized.  Saint John’s is fostering puppies for four to six weeks, and during that time, the residents feed and bathe them, play with them, and provide basic training before each puppy heads off to their new families.  The process of working with “broken pets” to foster them into “healthy puppies” is metaphorically critical for the boys.  One could argue that the saying “I didn’t rescue my dog, my dog rescued me” applies to many of the boys at Saint John’s.

Puppies JoJo and Alpha stepped paws into the program because they had not been adopted and they were scheduled to be euthanized the day before arriving at the program.  The boys were introduced to the brother and sister and told that the puppies were going to be used within group and individual sessions, and that overall, they would be able to foster a relationship in which they could care for and love these animals.  The boys quickly grew fond of JoJo and Alpha.  They began displaying remarkable empathetic qualities, revealing through pets who have also experienced trauma in their short lives that we all have deeply rooted needs for unconditional love, support, and affection.  These two puppies symbolically revealed that hope does exist for these students, as it does for JoJo and Alpha.

The second set of puppies have arrived already.  The boys are enjoying playing and spending time with the black labs that were abused and abandoned. 

One student, who has been in the program for almost a year, found it difficult to progress through his treatment program.  Remarkably, since beginning to care for the puppies, he is showing signs of improvement.  This resident comes from a broken family system.  However, he is slowly making the connections between his and the puppies’ brokenness and realizing that he, too, can thrive despite the traumas of his past.

The program plans to keep certain dogs for longer periods of time as they receive specialized training to become future service dogs.  

Last week, five residents at Spring Lake Youth Academy (SLYA), a non-secure program for boys, ages 15 to 18, which is operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC, assisted other volunteers and employees at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Arcadia.  The independently owned and operated not-for-profit store benefits the local Habitat for Humanity by collecting donated items and then selling the new and gently used appliances, furniture, building materials, and more to the public at reduced costs.  Proceeds from the ReStore are used to build homes, bolster communities, and provide hope locally and around the world. 

The boys first helped unload a truck filled with donations and then they refilled it with items that were going to be delivered to people in the community.  They also assisted people who had made purchases at the ReStore by carrying items out to their vehicles.

As a continued partnership with Habitat for Humanity, SLYA students will hold a car wash on the morning of Sept. 17, to raise funds for repairing one of the two ReStore trucks that are used to pick up donations and to make deliveries.