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Secretary's Message

November 21, 2016

Secretary Daly’s Weekly Letter 

As Thanksgiving approaches, many of you are busy making plans in preparation for your holiday meal and much needed down time spent with your friends and loved ones. It is my sincere hope that you take a moment to truly celebrate this holiday and give thanks for the many blessings that you have.

As many of us that work in the juvenile justice system know, there are many young people and families that are not as fortunate and I hope that you remember them also during this upcoming holiday. I count each of you as part of my blessings and I am thankful that I am able to be a part of a dedicated team of staff, providers, and community partners as we work to better the lives of Florida’s youth and families.

Thank you all for your commitment to DJJ and to Florida and I hope that you have a very happy and joyful Thanksgiving! 


Christina K. Daly

JJSIP Circuit 9 Rollout

Last week in Circuit 9, our Department rolled out the Juvenile Justice System Improvement Project (JJSIP) through a series of three meetings. 

Thank you Circuit 9 Chief Probation Officer Jill Wells (shown in this photo on the left) and Reform Specialist Melinda Wesley-Nelson (shown right) for organizing the three meetings and to featured speakers: Founder and Director of Georgetown University’s Center for Juvenile Justice Reform Shay Bilchik, Deputy Secretary Tim Niermann, Assistant Secretary for Residential Services Laura Moneyham, Assistant Secretary for Probation & Community Intervention Paul Hatcher, Director of Research & Data Integrity Mark Greenwald, and Research Analyst Katherine Gomez. Many thanks also go to our hosts at the Holden Heights Community Center and the Orange County Courthouse for accommodating our group.  

After presenting the national perspective and research foundations of JJSIP, the speakers presented specifics about implementation in Florida and data relative to the circuit.  In total, more than 150 stakeholders, members of the judiciary, and DJJ staff members were educated about JJSIP through these interactive question and answer presentations.  I really enjoyed meeting the judges and so many stakeholders, as well as the Circuit 9 and Central Region DJJ staff who participated.

DJJ was selected as one of four states to participate in the JJSIP, a national initiative to reform the juvenile justice system by translating “what works” into everyday practice and policy.  Administered by the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform, the JJSIP provides a framework for implementing best practices throughout the entire juvenile justice system.  To read more about JJSIP, click here

Okaloosa and Pasco County Visits

For the past few weeks, I’ve made several trips to detention and residential facilities as well as some of our probation offices to visit the programs and meet with our staff.

First up, I spent time in Pasco County visiting some of our agency’s providers and stopping by to visit with our DJJ detention staff. First, I took a tour of the Runaway Alternatives Project (RAP) House in New Port Richey. The RAP House is a DJJ provider who provides an emergency shelter for youth experiencing abuse or neglect, homelessness, and at-risk behaviors. Their goal is to empower families and youth to address these behaviors and provide a safe transition back into the home or alternative placement.  

(Pictured left: Andy Coble, vice president of prevention services, Youth and Family Alternatives; myself; Stacy Gromatski, president and CEO, Florida Network of Youth and Family Services; Mark Wickham, CEO, Youth and Family Alternatives; John Luff, chief operating officer, Youth and Family Alternatives; and Danielle Husband, program director, The RAP House)  

I also visited the Central Pasco Girls Academy, a non-secure residential commitment program for girls in Land O’Lakes operated by G4S Youth Services. Youth at the Central Pasco Girls Academy receive individual, group, and family therapy, as well as testing and psychiatric evaluation services. The program also provides gender-responsive services utilizing the “Girls Matter” curriculum that is tailored to the unique needs of the population.

Shown rightResidential Services Central Regional Director Tom McFadyen, Florida Network President/CEO Stacy Gromatski, Program Administrator Christina Perez, Secretary Christy Daly, G4S Youth Services Central Region Director Adam Bazini, and Residential Services Central Regional SMA-II Nick LeFrancois

I concluded my Pasco visits with a trip to the Pasco Regional Juvenile Detention Center where Superintendent Monica Gray led me on a tour of the facility.  During my visit, I had the opportunity to meet with some of the detention staff members and listen to their feedback and suggestions and answer some of their questions. I am always grateful to speak with them about the work they do and for their input in how we can improve our agency. 

Last week, I visited Okaloosa County where I met with the probation staff from Circuit 1 in Crestview. I had a great time speaking with the team and discussing their input and suggestions for the Department. I am always grateful for the opportunity to meet with our probation officers and I am thankful for the work they do in our communities and in guiding our young people down a positive and successful path to adulthood. 

While in Okaloosa, I also toured the Okaloosa Youth Development Center (OYDC) high-risk and non-secure programs in Crestview. Both programs, located on the same campus, are residential programs that provide treatment services for adjudicated boys who meet the criteria for Borderline Developmental Disability (BDD) Services and for those who meet the criteria for Developmental Disability (DD) Services. Both programs offer education and vocational services and include vocational opportunities in masonry, electronics technician, carpentry, and horticulture.

PACE Jacksonville Welcomes Georgia Delegation

On Friday, I was in Jacksonville at the PACE Center for Girls as we welcomed a delegation from the great state of Georgia for a tour of the program and to learn more about the good work of PACE. I was excited to share with the visiting delegation DJJ’s reform work, the positive outcomes we’ve achieved and the investments we have made in transforming Florida’s juvenile justice system. I was able to share with them the importance of prevention and early intervention services and the importance of programs like PACE in providing gender-specific programming in order to reduce juvenile delinquency.

Since opening in 1985, the PACE Center for Girls in Jacksonville has served over 3,000 young women ages 12-17 through three distinct components: academic, social services and transition services. Girls attend PACE to get appropriate counseling and education in a nurturing environment. To become enrolled, they must be between 12 to 17 years old, at least one year behind in school, and have 4 or more risk factors.

Human Trafficking Update

Last week, Human Trafficking Director Bethany Gilot had the opportunity to present at Shared Hope International’s Juvenile Sex Trafficking (JuST) Conference. Bethany presented on DJJ’s collaboration with DCF in fighting human trafficking and on a case study of a young trafficking victim who was trafficked here in Florida.

This year’s conference was held in Washington, D.C. and had hundreds of conference attendees. Many of the conference attendees attending from different states showed great interest in the work that Florida is doing to combat human trafficking.

To find out more information on Shared Hope International and see additional resources at http://sharedhope.org/

EMBRACE Anti-Bullying Prevention Production

DJJ staff members in Circuit 6 participated in the EMBRACE Anti-Bullying Prevention production on October 27 in St. Petersburg in accordance with anti-bullying month. EMBRACE is a non-fiction play performed by Pinellas County school youth that provides an understanding of the seriousness of bullying, including the hurt and impact it has on youth, families and the community. My thanks to Delinquency Prevention Specialist Pat McGhee who was critical in spearheading our agency’s involvement in the development of this production.

The plot of the play was centered on bullying incidents in school and the effects of peer pressure. The play’s narrator provided bullying statistics before each scene which highlighted the seriousness of the problem and the warning signs. The narrator set the stage for each scene by providing information on the level of bullying being presented as well as walked the audience through the scene.

Outside of the theater, DJJ and other sponsors set up several resource tables where DJJ and other organizations provided information about bullying and resources for getting assistance. I would like to thank the following staff members who played a role in making this production possible: CPO Melissa Fuller, Reform Specialist Adrienne Conwell, Special Projects Coordinator Jill Gould, JPOS Marilyn Walker, Sr. JPO Nikisha Branham, JDAI Coordinator Karin Popkowski, JPOS Jared White, JPOS Barbara Koppelmann, JPOS Yvonne Ortiz, JPO Tonya King, JPO Melanie Phelps, Administrative Assistant Nivea Malave and Volunteer Erin McGowan.

Circuit 6 also thanks the following organizations/agencies, as they all had a part in making this a successful event: Angelia Fletcher Marvos, Erica Davis, Pinellas County Schools, Gibbs High School, City of St. Petersburg Mayor’s Office, Shandy Gregg Photography, Men in the Making, Salon Tru, Misty and Company, Lorraine’s Academy, St. Petersburg Technical School Hair/Beauty, Mr. D. Tunes, Chick Fil A, Deborah Figg-Sanders, Adrienne Douglas, St. Petersburg Parks and Recreation, Gomez Innovations. Affordable Wholesale Appliances, DePaolo Pro Auto, David Pate and the youth jazz ensemble and the Clearwater Jazz Holiday Foundation.

Remember FJJF when you shop Amazon

The Florida Juvenile Justice Foundation (FJJF) teamed up with Amazon Smile last year to provide a convenient and philanthropic way for you to support FJJF every time you shop, at no cost to you. When you shop through AmazonSmile at http://smile.amazon.com, you’ll find the exact same low prices, vast selection and convenient shopping experience as Amazon.com, with the added bonus that Amazon will donate 5% of the purchase price to FJJF.  Tens of millions of products on AmazonSmile are eligible for donations.

Simply go to smile.amazon.com anytime you want to make a purchase on Amazon and search “Florida Juvenile Justice Foundation” in the search box as your charity. The proceeds from your purchase will come to FJJF and benefit our children who are in need. Add a bookmark to smile.amazon.com to make it even easier to return and start your shopping at AmazonSmile.  It’s convenient, charitable and the perfect way to shop for the upcoming holidays.  Thank you for supporting an important cause and making a difference in the lives of our youth! 

Detention Update

This week I am pleased to spotlight the hard work of DJJ’s own Registered Dietitian Vanessa LeMire. Vanessa has without a doubt a challenging and complex job as she oversees food service operations for each of our 21 detention facilities across the state. Each one of these commercial kitchens serves three meals and two snacks each day of the year to anywhere from 20 to 120 youth. This process is difficult and complex. It calls for our kitchen directors to follow food safety regulations and specific menu guidelines all while maintaining a safe working environment and adhering to USDA Child Nutrition Guidelines.

Over the last year, Vanessa has worked diligently to streamline the process which makes things easier for the food service employees. She recently collaborated with Senior Safety Specialist Tommy Blankenship, Deputy Director of Communications Amanda Fortuna and Marketing Specialist Patrick Fargason on the production of a food safety video. The DJJ Food Safety Video outlines proper tips and techniques that keep our kitchen staff safe while operating in a busy kitchen.

In addition, Vanessa has set up a food and nutrition page on DJJ’s Intranet site, which provides food services directors and kitchen staff access to an abundance of information including USDA regulatory updates, temperature logs, recipes, menus, menu changes, inventory spreadsheets to monitor plate cost, numerous templates, service tips, safety tips and surveys. This new web page gives our employees access to this information 24/7 and is constantly updated.

On behalf of the entire agency, and the youth that we serve I want to give a big thank you to Vanessa for all of the great work she is doing to ensure the youth in our detention programs are receiving delicious and nutritious meals in a safe and healthy environment! 

We Salute Our Veterans!

As many of you know, our nation commemorated Veterans Day on November 11th where we honor those that have served in the United States Armed Forces. The girls from the Manatee RJDC observed this important day by writing cards thanking our veterans for their service and sacrifice to our great country. 

The Southwest RJDC welcomed a civic group of volunteers from Florida Gulf Coast University who came to mentor and work with the youth at the facility. The mentoring session was coordinated by Assistant Superintendent Mary Pagano and former DJJ staff member Anita Bellot. The volunteers brought books, candy and painting materials. Some volunteers painted pictures with the youth while others worked in the garden and hung holiday decorations. The youth really enjoyed their mentoring session and both parties expressed interest in scheduling another mentoring date in the future. 

With the help of volunteer Rochelle Morris, the Pasco RJDC has introduced a yoga class for the youth at the facility. Ms. Morris has been a volunteer with the facility for the last two months and comes to the center for two hours every Tuesday. She spends one hour of her time with the female youth and the other hour with the male youth teaching them the benefits and relaxing qualities of yoga. Youth that have participated have found the class to be very relaxing and have encouraged other youth that have been reluctant to participate to attend the class as well.

Prevention Update 

Delinquency Prevention Specialist Lydia Breaux-Davis recently participated in the 23rd annual Big Community Cookout at the Fricker Community Center in Pensacola.

The event, which is sponsored by Leroy Williams Pensacola Community Arts and Recreation Association (PCARA Production) and Pensacola Neighborhood Services, promotes non-violent and drug free communities. Lydia distributed pamphlets to parents with information regarding DJJ’s prevention programs and in keeping with the event’s non-violent theme, she distributed bullying free backpacks to the youth.  The backpacks came in 3 different colors with logos of Bullying stops here, Be a Buddy not a Bully and Bullying Free starts with me. In addition to the backpacks youths received free bicycle helmets.

Approximately 15 other vendors participated in the event including Community Drug and Alcohol Council, Florida Health Services, and Pensacola State College. The families attending the event enjoyed a fun day where there was plenty of food and entertainment.  

Delinquency Prevention Specialist Sharon Dunkle volunteered to assist with registration during the PACE Center for Girls of Lee County’s inaugural Boo Ball Fundraising Gala on October 22 at the Sidney & Bernie Davis Art Center in downtown Fort Myers. The Halloween-themed event included a live auction with exceptional travel opportunities and experiences up for bid, along with a “Pass the Pumpkin” auction item, featuring unique and valuable items donated by community members and guests in attendance. Proceeds from the “spooktacular” soiree will support the PACE Center’s mission to provide girls and young women an opportunity for a better future through education, counseling, training and advocacy.  According to gala organizers, the event raised $143,225 to assist the girls and young ladies who receive services at PACE Lee County. More than 250 guests attended.

Congratulations to Pastor Gerald Duncan, DJJ’s faith representative for Circuit 8, for receiving the Champions of Hope Award this year at the 2016 Florida Faith Symposium on November 2 in Orlando. Pastor Duncan created the Mentor2Mentor program in Gainesville and he has encouraged the repair of relationships between youth and their families through this program. He is also a member of the Mayor's Community Response Council sharing his insight on community issues such as disproportionate minority male contact.

Pastor Duncan established the Innovative Dads organization to help empower and support men in their roles as fathers. He has implemented workshops, seminars and community events related to the Men on Board against domestic violence organization. Pastor Duncan works directly with known gang members to assist them with other alternatives to gang life. His partnerships include a liaison for Compass Bank financial literacy program. He also partners with Santa Fe State College on the East Gainesville Initiative. He volunteers for the Headstart program and the Housing Authority.

In addition, Pastor Duncan is active with the Black on Black Crime Task Force where he helps this organization to identify with public safety and community awareness concerns among juvenile and adult offenders. Thank you Pastor Duncan for all of your hard work and your dedication to the young people in our communities!

DJJ procurement staff statewide attended prevention training in Orlando on October 30 during the recent Prevention Training Retreat. Budget Director Lucy Swain delivered an informative presentation on travel protocol. An innovation incubator was conducted by Shaundra Mitchell, procurement specialist; Gloria Gatlin, federal assistant; and Diamond Ragin, federal programs liaison. During their presentation, they led staff in exercises designed to help them learn more about each other.

In addition, Alice Sims, assistant secretary, Prevention and Victim Services, recognized staff for going above and beyond in the performance of their duties. Those honored for their hard work and dedicated service were Patrice Richardson, statewide coordinator for circuit advisory boards and Jean Hall, CCC coordinator.  Assistant Secretary Sims recognized Shaundra as the Prevention Employee of the Quarter. Shaundra was recognized for her ability to demonstrate exceptional attention to detail and her willingness to take on new responsibilities. 

Education Update

Earlier this year, the Center for Educational Excellence in Alternative Settings (CEEAS) held a month-long poetry initiative for students held in juvenile justice facilities. Our English teachers at St. Johns Juvenile Residential Facility participated in this initiative and submitted the best selections. CEEAS narrowed down the 1,300 poems to the top 186 for the anthology. We are proud to announce that one of our student’s poems was chosen for the CEEAS Words Unlocked 2015 Anthology. The poem titled “Do the Right Thing” was featured in the CEEAS Words Unlocked 2015 Anthology, representing the only student from a G4S facility selected for this honor. 

Do the Right Thing

Do the right thing

Go to school, go to work

When you get home

Change clothes, go to church

Do the right thing

When you mess up, it’s gon’ hurt

Mom gon’ be stressed out

When she get that call at work

Stop all this BS and straighten up

When you’re behind them four walls

You gon’ be shaking bruh!

All this could have been avoided

With a talk like this

Instead you gon’ keep thuggin

And be in a box like this

Do the right thing

For the third time!

Get locked up, go to court

And catch time

Momma, sista, and brotha

All of them cryin’

You could have been at school or at work

But you wasting time

It ain’t too late

I have to be STRONG

I’m doing the right thing So I can go back home

Residential Update

In recognition of National Community Policing Week, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida—together with the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice and Twin Oaks Juvenile Development, Inc.—presented a BLAST Program (Building Lasting Relationships Between Police and Community) event to 40 residents of the JUST Program (Juvenile Unit for Specialized Treatment).  Operated by Twin Oaks, this non-secure residential commitment program provides mental health and behavioral health treatment services to adjudicated males, ages 13 to 17, with special needs.

The students met representatives of the criminal justice community, asked questions, shared their perceptions of law enforcement, and interacted with officers in a familiar setting.  Officers provided students with their perspectives on responding to dangerous or uncertain circumstances and the importance of remaining calm and following an officer’s directions in such a situation.  The event included the following sessions, during which students participated in role play with law enforcement officers:

  • Crime and Justice Overview:  Students learned about each phase of a federal criminalsrc= case, including investigation, prosecution, and sentencing.
  • Domestic Violence:  Students participated in a scenario in which police respond to an injured victim.  Discussion topics included de-escalation in a stressful environment, rights of witnesses and suspects, and the benefits of providing information to the police.
  • Traffic Stop Simulation:  Students took turns playing the roles of civilians and officers in traffic stop scenarios where some participants were compliant and some were argumentative.  Discussion topics included vehicle searches based on probable cause and the dangers faced by officers during a traffic stop.
  • Use of Force:  Facilitators and students discussed when law enforcement officers may use force and an officer’s reaction time when confronted with a life-threatening situation.

Residential Services Northeast Regional Commitment Chief Virgil Wright (shown right) is active in the local community.  Last week, he spoke to students at Jacksonville’s Jean Ribault Middle School, sharing information about the things they can do to make positive choices and decisions and how to refrain from negative behaviors.  

Duval Academy, a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by Sequel TSI of Florida, LLC, recently hosted a law-enforcement relationship-building event with Police Officer Ronald Williams, a decorated officer from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. 

The residents also recently attended the Second Juvenile Justice and Youth Services Fair at the Duval County Courthouse.  The purpose of the fair is to promote and enhance the growth, education, safety, and success of every young person in Jacksonville.  The youth learned about different organizations and opportunities that are available to them.  Shown right are the students who participated in the fair.

Probation Update 

On November 16, DJJ staff in Circuit 6 held their ninth Bridging the G.A.A.P (Gaining Appreciation by Adjusting Perspectives) Conversation at the Boca Ciega High School in Gulfport. The event was hosted by DJJ in collaboration with the Gulfport, Treasure Island, and St. Petersburg police departments and featured a question and answer forum which looked for ways to improve communication between youth and law enforcement. There was some great dialogue as it related to racial ethnic disparity, profiling, and how one’s perception is shaped by experience and external influences. 

I would like to thank the following staff members who worked to make this event successful: Prevention Specialist Pat McGhee, Special Projects Coordinator Jill Gould, JDAI Coordinator Karin Popkowski, Reform Specialist Adrienne Conwell, JPOS Barbara Koppelmann, JPOS Marilyn Walker, Sr. JPO Takeria Peterson, JPO Deon Wimberly, JPO Melanie Phelps and Administrative Assistant Nivea Malave.  

I am pleased to share the following thank you letter that was sent to Circuit 1 JPO Judy Copeland from a mother who was appreciative for her time and efforts on behalf of her son. This is fine example of how the DJJ mission is carried out on an individual basis, day in and day out, helping to change lives for the better. Thank you JPO Copeland for your dedication to the youth on your The letter reads:

“Ms. Judy,

I thank you for believing in our J. It was time for a different environment and you made it possible with our prayers. J is still maturing, but he is at a good school. Grandpa keeps in touch with his teachers daily. He is now driving to school. If his grades go down, he will ride with grandpa. May God continue to bless you with His wisdom to know what to do for young boys like J. For we do live in a cruel world.”

**CORRECTION** Juvenile Justice Academy Graduation Ceremony

Congratulations to the newest juvenile justice detention officers (JDOs) who graduated from Broward College. 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 Central Region Director for Detention Services Frank Gargett and Superintendent Johnathan Hackley, Broward Regional Detention Center, for delivering the graduation addresses at the JDO graduations.

Top Row (Left to right):  Dedrick Ferguson – Miami-Dade, Junior Joseph – Miami-Dade, Julyssa Pierre-Louis – Palm Beach, Arrington Copeland – Palm Beach, Jason Maldonado – Palm Beach, Jonathan Lindor – Palm Beach, Korey Deveaux – Miami-Dade

Middle Row:  Steve Njike - Broward, Lauren Burke - Broward, James Wiggins – Miami-Dade, Derwin Brown – Palm Beach, Samuel Engel – Palm Beach, Brandon Phillips – Miami-Dade, Kenneth Collier - Broward, Nelson Amao-Aiyelabowo – Palm Beach, Learning Consultant D. Cannon

Bottom Row: Kyle Worrell - Broward, Dominique Jones – Palm Beach, Alicia Pittman - Broward, Cornelia Young - Broward, Patricia Nicholas - Broward, Jonathan Rios – Miami-Dade, Deasha Everett -Palm Beach, Trevis Harnster – Miami-Dade