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Secretary's Message

October 3, 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 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

JJSIP Update

Last week, the Department completed its roll out of the Juvenile Justice System Improvement Project (JJSIP) in Circuit 16 by initiating the case studies review process at a day-long training at the Circuit 16 Probation Office in Key West. More than 20 DJJ staff members and community stakeholders participated in the process.

DJJ headquarters staff members (shown right) Jeannie Becker-Powell (Probation), Meg Bates (Residential), and Vanessa Wicker (Residential) participated in this process to assist in facilitating discussion about the cases. Circuit 16 Chief Probation Officer Karen Knight organized the event. 

The purpose of the case studies review is to examine several closed juvenile cases to assess how the research and related information through the JJSIP could have been used to intervene in that youth’s life at an earlier point, potentially keeping them out of the juvenile justice system. 

The goal of this process is to help communities see, through the use of actual case studies, how to intersect a youth’s trajectory through multiple systems so that the youth is prevented from becoming a serious, violent or chronic delinquent.  After conducting this initial case review, local communities are strongly encouraged to continue the process of reviewing cases in their areas with all stakeholders.

Part of the case studies review training included a special recognition ceremony for CPO Knight, who received an award from the Florida Statewide Guardian ad Litem Office, naming her the Community Advocate of the Year for the 16th Judicial Circuit.  Congratulations, Karen!

Statewide Council on Human Trafficking Meeting

On Friday, Human Trafficking Director Bethany Gilot attended the quarterly meeting of the Statewide Council on Human Trafficking. During this meeting, Department of Children and Families Secretary Mike Carroll presented the 2016 Florida Human Trafficking Response in Florida Report, which was drafted by the Council’s Services and Resources Committee, where I serve as a member. The report addresses the prevalence of sex trafficking in Florida, identifies the existing continuum of care for survivors of sex trafficking in Florida, and addresses both strengths of the system and gaps in services requiring response. This report will serve as a resource to outline the areas of interest for the 2017 legislative session. 

2017 Prudential Productivity Awards

DJJ employees are among the most innovative and creative people in all of state government as they continue to seek more productive ways to perform their jobs more efficiently. I am excited to announce that the 2017 Prudential Productivity Awards, presented by Florida TaxWatch, provides an excellent opportunity to recognize the innovative ideas and resulting cost savings accomplished by enterprising DJJ employees.

Nominations are now open and forms for the 2017 Productivity Awards can be accessed at http://ppa.floridataxwatch.org/. Please take a few moments today to review the application and instructions and nominate a deserving DJJ employee or team of employees.

Last year, our agency received a total of three Prudential Productivity Awards across several different program areas. Innovation comes in all shapes and sizes, so don’t hesitate to look over the award criteria and decide what you or your team has done to make our agency run more efficiently. 

Nominations can be downloaded and completed off-line prior to submitting an on-line nomination. The site opens October 1 and will close on November 15, 2016. To ensure that all nominations are accurate and properly reviewed, DJJ will not approve nominations submitted after November 8, 2016 at 5:00 p.m.  No new nominations will be accepted after that time.

Nomination packets and questions regarding nominations should be directed to Patrick Fargason at Patrick.Fargason@djj.state.fl.us or 850-717-2712. 

The annual Florida State Employees’ Charitable Campaign (FSECC) is now officially underway and the FSECC’s online giving system is open!  

In recent years, the campaign administrators have taken several approaches to reduce the administrative costs needed to run the FSECC. The campaign’s administrative costs have been reduced by more than 50 percent through additional operational changes that improve the expense-to-donation ratio. 

As a part of the effort to lower campaign costs and to increase the amount of funds distributed to participating charities, this year’s campaign will focus on raising funds through payroll deductions only.

Please visit the Giving Nexus page to make your pledge today. For more information on how to use the online pledge tool, click here.

Pledging is easy and is open to all state employees. The online pledge system will close on November 6. You can also find charity information and much more by visiting the FSECC website at: www.fsecc.com.

Detention Update

My thanks to Bay County Sheriff’s Deputy Montrez Potter who made a special visit to the Bay RJDC to speak with the youth at the center. Deputy Potter was a former JJDO II and remains a strong community partner who continues his work with youth in order to make a positive impact on their lives. During the visit, he spent over an hour with the young men and talked with them about the first hand consequences of gang activity and gang violence. He also talked about establishing a positive relationship with law enforcement in the community. Potter held the full attention of our youth and did an excellent job at making several valuable connections. DJJ is so appreciative of both Potter’s time and dedication with our youth. 

Also from Bay RJDC is the following story that demonstrates the dedication of our staff in helping others. Our staff work hard to make a difference in the lives they come into contact with, regardless of how that contact is made.  

Recently, a young man walked into the facility frantic, hungry and covered in marks from where he had been beaten. No one really knows what motivated him to get assistance at Bay. It could have been the “Safe Place” sign on the door, or it could have merely been his proximity to the facility. Immediately our staff members including JPO Abby Whitlow, Sargent Terrance Henderson and SJDO David Strickland rushed to his aid. They provided a team effort to calm the young man down, feed him and contact the authorities. The listened to his story, and once he found out that our officers were truly listening he began to calm down. The Panama City Police Department was contacted and a call was placed with the abuse hotline.

It was truly a blessing to see our staff members come together to assist a young man in need despite not being a juvenile. It is our hope that the things our officers did made a big difference in his life.

The youth and staff members from the Manatee RJDC banded together to help celebrate the birthday of Manatee’s Superintendent Major Terry Carter. Staff members say that Major Carter has been such a blessing to their facility and is an admired and trusted leader. Staff members decorated his office, while the youth made handmade birthday cards to celebrate the special day. 

Juvenile Justice Officer Academy Graduation Ceremony

Congratulations to the newest juvenile justice detention officers (JDOs) at Alachua and Florida Public Safety Institute who graduated September 30, 2016.  The detention officers will supervise youth in detention centers as they wait for an appearance before the court or placement in a juvenile residential treatment facility.  Thanks to Christina K. Daly, Secretary for the Department of Juvenile Justice and Delmonica Harris, Assistant Superintendent for Duval Regional Detention Center, for delivering the graduation addresses at the JDO graduations. Kudos to Senior Learning Consultant Duane Pace, Learning Consultant Christina Ash, Learning Consultant Bernard Smith and Senior Learning Specialist Artavia Parrish 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.

Florida Public Safety Institute Graduates

Front Row (Left to right):  Tya Denefield – Bay RJDC, Gaove Abdon – Escambia RJDC, Krystal Parden – Escambia RJDC, Contrilla Chambers – Bay RJDC

Second Row:  Troy Berry Sr. – Okaloosa RJDC, David Mack – Bay RJDC, De’Anthony Tuner – Leon RJDC, John Jones – Escambia RJDC, Carissa Davis – Leon RJDC

Third Row: Ciara Dotson – Volusia RJDC, Michael Banks II – Escambia RJDC, LaTrena Whitehurst – Escambia RJDC, Brooke Boyd – Okaloosa RJDC, Alexander Ryberg – Escambia RJDC

Alachua RJDC Graduates

First Row (Left to right):  Ismael Hernandez – Duval RJDC, Kearra Rhodes – Marion RJDC, Lee Wilson – Marion RJDC, Oriole Cull – Duval RJDC, Lashara Sanders – Duval RJDC, Margaret Spillane – Alachua RJDC, Austin Moore – Alachua RJDC, Trivon Dunson – Alachua RJDC, and Teresa King – Duval RJDC

Second Row:  :  Deangelo Bridgers – Duval RJDC, Mohammad Masood – Alachua RJDC, Christopher Young – Duval RJDC and Levoye James – Marion RJDC

Prevention Update

Assistant Secretary for Prevention and Victim Services Alice Sims participated in the Women’s Leadership Forum panel during the Florida Council on Crime and Delinquency’s (FCCD) 87th Annual Criminal Justice Training Institute in Daytona Beach. Assistant Secretary Sims, and other panelists, shared their unique personal stories of contributions made to their respective fields with attendees at the FCCD gathering. The panelists explored opportunities for women in criminal justice professions and discussed barriers preventing women from entering into management and leadership positions in the field.

Other topics discussed were: misconceptions about women’s abilities as managers and leaders; preconceived incompatibilities between career and family goals; the informal structure problem, i.e., the lack of role models for women. In other words, women’s self-image presents a very real and concrete obstacle to the improvement of their status.

Also serving on the panel were: Highlands County Sheriff Susan Benton; Retired Commissioner Judith Wolson, Florida Commission on Offender Review; Orange County Corrections Chief Cornita Riley; and Moderator Franchatta Barber, retired Florida Department of Corrections.

In the above photo from left to right: Susan Benton, Assistant Secretary Sims, Judith Wolson, Cornita Riley and Franchatta Barber.

Recently, Delinquency Prevention Specialist Andria George made a visit to the Filter Program in Inverness. The Filter Program, a DJJ prevention provider, is a partnership with the National Youth Project Using Minibikes (NYPUM). The NYPUM uses minibikes as an incentive to encourage kids to develop positive behavioral traits. The instructors play a dual role of instructor and mentor.  The instructors must complete 6 days of training followed by yearly renewal training.

The Filter program mentors meet twice a week on Mondays 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.  Filter’s Director George Schmalstig says that Monday is Family Day and is the most important part of the program because children and parents come together for cognitive restructuring.  Filter uses a nationally recognized, science-driven, integrated, cognitive behavioral program called “Thinking for a Change.” The program was developed by the National Institute of Corrections and focuses on developing social and problem-solving skills. 

During the first weeks of class, the students learn different bike maneuvers where safety is always emphasized.  The acronym TClock, is used to help the students remember the process for their pre-ride inspection. TClock stands for tires and wheels, controls and cables, light and electric, oil and fuel, chain and chassis (bike frame), and kickstand. After inspection, the fun really begins.  However, only eligible students may take part. 

The students give Mr. George their time cards. The cards state whether they met minimum standards in behaviors, grades, and general expectations for the week. If minimum standards are met the student has earned one hour of ride time.  If the students went over and beyond minimum standards they may earn an extra 1-2 hours of ride time. Students who do not meet standards must explain why they did not meet minimum standards and offer a plan for reaching minimum standards in the upcoming week.

Probation Update 

Probation staff in Circuit 6 recently organized a cultural diversity event for their probationary youth. The youth participated in a life skills discussion regarding cultural diversity, the current societal issues surrounding race, and how it has influenced relationships between the community and law enforcement. Staff members also accompanied the youth during their participation in a local park cleanup and afterwards prepared meals from various ethnicities for the youth to eat. 

JPOS Marilyn Walker and SJPO Nikisha Branham from Circuit 6 participated in a local organization called CareFest on September 24. CareFest mobilizes local churches, community agencies and businesses to meet the practical needs of local communities by providing community service. SJPO Branham distributed books to children and food to families residing in a mobile home park in the Lealman neighborhood. While JPOS Walker delivered boxes of food the homeless who were residing under the bridge in Lealman.  

Probation staff in Circuit 13 held a morale boosting exercise on September 23 for staff members to show their solidarity for the University of South Florida Bulls who were hosting the Florida State Seminoles on September 24. Staff members proudly displayed their USF colors and spirit in anticipation of Saturday’s game. 

Circuit 20 JPO Shana Feren has once again taken the lead in distributing bicycles to juveniles and adults alike in Cape Coral. She has been working on this project since 2008 and has distributed over 500 bikes since she began volunteering with the program. On September 22, law enforcement officers claimed or impounded 37 bicycles which were then reconditioned by Shana and her husband Mike before they were distributed to those in need in the Cape Coral and North Fort Myers communities. Shana also recruits the help of her probationary youth and students in alternative learning centers who help her refurbish these bikes while earning community service hours. This community bicycle distribution event takes place four times a year and anyone in need has the opportunity to receive a bicycle at no charge.

Members of the Monroe County Coalition including our own Reform Specialist Elaine Thompson traveled to Horace O’ Bryant Middle School in Key West to present passive alcohol sensor flashlights to Key West Police Department’s School Resource Officer Dave Hall. These flashlights are a new tool in combatting drivers who are under the influence of alcohol. Known as, “The Sniffer,” A Passive Alcohol Sensor is an electronic ‘nose’ that detects alcohol by smelling the air. These flashlights are one of many strategies to deter underage drinking and keep our kids safe. 

Residential Update 

Last week, Palm Beach Youth Academy, a high-risk program for boys, ages 15 to 21, which is operated by Sequel TSI of Florida, LLC, welcomed current Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and former Mixed Martial Arts Middleweight Champion Hector Lombard to the program to visit with the boys. Mr. Lombard made a strong connection with the residents as he talked about his troubled childhood and juvenile delinquency in his home country of Cuba. 

Through dedication in school and his martial arts training, Mr. Lombard was successful in representing his native country of Cuba in the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia.  Having defected for a better quality of life, Mr. Lombard made his way to the United States where he has enjoyed a successful career in the mixed martial arts field. 

His discussion with the students included a demonstration of basic martial arts techniques.  Mr. Lombard also had brief, private conversations with each youth and personalized an autographed picture for each one.  Many of boys knew of him and his professional accomplishments as featured in a PlayStation® video game.  

The students of the Duval Academy, a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by Sequel TSI of Florida, LLC, along with staff and advisory board members recently participated in the Heart Walk—the American Heart Association’s premiere fund-raising event—by helping to set up for the event and by walking. 

It’s a Pixel Puppy Paradise at the Okaloosa Youth Academy (OYA), a non-secure program for boys, ages 13 to 19, which is operated by Gulf Coast Youth Services, Inc. 

The residents and staff were more than happy to welcome the program’s first two puppies the last week of September, from Pixel Fund volunteers.  The Pixel Fund is a non-profit organization with headquarters in Maine and outreach in Georgia and Florida.  The program is completely run by volunteers who work tirelessly to save the lives of shelter pets through education, advocacy, and rescue efforts, and through participation in community activities.

As stated on the organization’s website (http://www.thepixelfund.org/), “We believe strongly in the need to spay and neuter pets to prevent needless shelter deaths through unwanted litters and overpopulation.  We believe strongly in responsible pet ownership, appropriate training, and unlimited affection.  We believe everyone is capable of doing one small thing, taking one small action, to save a life.”

Shown left is DJJ Residential Services Operations Monitor Dwight Poole, getting some puppy love.  These two special babies, Holland and Lena, will be given love and care at OYA for several months while they grow and become socialized—and by the looks of things, they will be spoiled rotten.  The puppies will then be considered adoptable and placed in “furever” homes. 

While at OYA, the pups will live carefree, comfortable lives in their indoor puppy pad (shown below) which was created especially for them and all other puppies to follow. 

As with the program’s Chicken Family Tree, Holland and Lena are the founding members of the OYA Puppy Family Tree and each of their names will be written on a doggie bone around the room’s border.  Additionally, they will have an outdoor play area where they will be able to get some fresh air, sunshine, and exercise.  As you can see, the boys AND staff were excited about the new arrivals.  They look forward to the many hours of entertainment, companionship, and teachable moments these puppies will surely provide.  

Florida Faith Symposium-Early Bird Special Extended! 

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.

The early bird special has now been extended until October 7. Register here now to take advantage of this great deal!