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Secretary's Message

February 27, 2017

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

Best Wishes and Happy Retirement

Best wishes to Assistant General Counsel Bill Nelson (pictured center) on his recent retirement from DJJ. Bill began his career with the Department back in October of 1995 and has served with great distinction. He helped develop many personnel policies, provided trainings to employees statewide, and represented the Department in various civil and administrative courts.

Bill’s career started as a police officer in Miami-Dade before he attended law school and went on to work as an assistant state attorney. His historical knowledge of the Department, his experience, and his wise counsel will be truly missed. We wish him a long and happy retirement in the mountains of Alabama.

Chronic Offender Case Study Meeting

This past week DJJ staff joined me, Deputy Secretary Tim Niermann, Assistant Secretary Laura Moneyham and Assistant Secretary Paul Hatcher to conduct comprehensive case studies of fifteen juvenile cases classified as chronic offenders. The case studies provided an in-depth evaluation on services attempted and results of those services as well as an opportunity to discuss necessary improvements in working with chronic offenders and cross system collaboration.

Thank you to Danielle McCarthy, Allison Fulford, Cathy Lake, Telly Suarez, Matt Fitzgerald, Julie Pla, Micah Taylor, Michell McCarthy, Melissa Fuller, Chercolby Robinson, and Jill Wells for their hard work in preparing for this meeting and their participation.

Pictured here: Tim Niermann, Paul Hatcher, Danielle McCarthy, Allison Fulford, Cathy Lake, Telly Suarez, Matt Fitzgerald, Julie Pla, Micah Taylor, Michell McCarthy, Melissa Fuller, Chercolby Robinson, Jill Wells, Christina Daly          

SD&T Update

Staff Development & Training conducted the first of two Master PAR Instructors’ annual meetings on February 21-23 at Florida Public Safety Institute. The meeting was attended by 13 Master PAR Instructors from across the state, from Probation, Detention, Staff Development & Training and Residential Services. It was kicked off by Chief of Staff, Fred Schuknecht and included a discussion on the current PAR curriculum, verbal intervention, a review of the rule, and demonstration of intervention techniques. Randy Agerton provided a special presentation on Tableau which provided a snapshot of on the daily population of youth in detention, as well as the number of incidents and PAR reports generated daily. 

Standing left to right: Duane Pace, Kerrick May, Gayle Wire, Bernard Smith, Kiva Hagans, Andrea Minnis, Michael Slayton, Bridget Goodrich, and Denise Cannon. Kneeling: Welton Sanders, Tara Frazier, Neil Stier, and Alisa Hetzel. Also in attendance for the meeting was AS Dixie Fosler; Direct of Special Projects, Brenda Posthumus; and Acting Director of SD&T, Cina Wilson Johnson.

Bureau of Management Information Systems (MIS) 

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Detention Update

Staff Announcement

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Conrad McCray as superintendent of Leon Regional Juvenile Detention Center (RJDC).  

Conrad graduated summa cum laude with a master’s degree in Criminal Justice/Public Administration from Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University (FAMU), where he also received his bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice.  Conrad started with the Florida Department of Corrections (DOC) at the age of 19 as a correctional officer while continuing his education full-time. When he graduated with his bachelor’s degree, he was promoted to probation officer within DOC serving as a community control officer and sex offender officer.  After obtaining his master’s degree, he was again promoted to government operations consultant II with the Department of Management Services, where he was responsible for vendor compliance with contracts to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of corrections in Florida.  In 2015, he joined the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice in the Office of Detention Services as a government operations consultant II.  In this position, he had oversight of investigations, training, video review, PAR, confinement, and shift reports. Conrad exceled and was recognized by Detention Assistant Secretary Dixie Fosler when he received the Assistant Secretary Award for his exemplary work.  

In addition to spending time with his family, Conrad volunteers in the community as an active member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. and presently serves as a member of the Board of Trustees at Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church. He was also named a Mighty Man of Mission by the Elkins-Williams Woman’s Missionary Society Ministry. 

Conrad has the knowledge, qualifications, and skills that will make him a great asset to Leon RJDC, to the North Region, and to the Department as a whole. Please join me in congratulating the newly named Major McCray on his appointment! 

The St. Lucie RJDC held a Valentine’s Day party for the level three boys from the F-Mod of the facility. The party featured delicious food as well as entertainment, karaoke, and a talent show. 

In addition, St. Lucie RJDC honored Circuit 19 JPO Crystal Brown as the JPO who visited the facility the most this past quarter. JPO Brown, who is very dedicated to the youth we serve both in and out of the detention facility, was presented with a certificate and a gift card. 

Licensed Mental Health Clinician Tenora Bailey from the Bay RJDC and Captain Ron Boyce from the Panama City Marine Institute (PCMI) recently coordinated a visit from the GatherGoGet Mobile FLOW vehicle to the facility. The visit helped youth from Bay and the PCMI obtain their state of Florida identification cards. As you know, many of our youth do not have the resources to obtain an ID card and it can prove to be a real hardship for those youth searching for a job or continuing their education.

The staff from GatherGoGet were extremely professional and accommodating to both the youth and our staff, and all of the youth felt a sense of pride after participating in this event. Both facilities are already planning a return trip for the FLOW vehicle to ensure that even more youth have this opportunity afforded to them.  

Youth from the Brevard RJDC celebrated Black History Month by participating in numerous activities over the last few weeks. The education department at Brevard assigned students a poster and research project in which students were given an opportunity to highlight a black role model of their choice. Upon completion of their projects, the youth presented their posters during an assembly in front of their fellow classmates.

In addition, the students at Brevard were involved in a virtual scavenger hunt which highlighted important black figures and contributors to American history. Each week, documentaries were integrated into the education curriculum highlighting the accomplishments of the most prominent and influential black leaders throughout the history of the United States. The students were engaged in learning and actively participated in the class activities.

The North Region Detention Focus Group recently met at the Duval RJDC to review recommended training needs and discuss ways on how to increase morale across detention services. The group concluded with a review of the accomplishments from the focus group in 2016. In addition, the focus group was given an in-depth tour of the facility by Major Mark Refour and were given new Detention Services hats as a token of appreciation. 

Left to right: Romeo Jones, Charlie Hill, Lynwood Kornegay, Lillian Simmons, Alex Cochran, Adrian Mathena

The Collier RJDC was the beneficiary of a unique community service project for several probationary youth organized by director of Horticulture Brian Galligan from the Naples Botanical Garden.

The Naples Botanical Garden donated two truckloads of plants to help beautify the south side of the facility as well as most of the front entrance. Youth who participated earned valuable community service hours for their efforts and Collier RJDC hopes to have the group out next month to finish the job. 

Prevention Update

Delinquency Prevention Specialist Dionne Anderson was a featured panelist during the City of Kissimmee and the Osceola Chapter of the NAACP’s Trailblazers Prayer Breakfast at the Kissimmee Civic Center. The theme of the breakfast was “Empowering Youth to Believe, Achieve, and Succeed,” and the group focused on young men in the community with young men from elementary to high schools present at the event.  

Dionne, along with Parkway Middle School Dean of Students Mr. Gregory Johnson, Osceola County Sheriff’s School Resource Officer Deputy Daniel Feliciano, and a youth from the community served on the panel and spoke about the ways to prevent youth from entering the juvenile justice system. The discussion also included how to stay out of trouble while in school, initiatives that police use to help build better relationships, and the rewards of staying in school, out of trouble, and listening to parents.

AMIkids of Tampa, a DJJ funded program, recently founded BreakingBarriers, a bridge building program that brings members from the Tampa Police Department and at-risk youth together to promote mutual respect and communication in an effort to forge positive relationships. The event in Tampa launched this month and signaled the beginning of AMIkids’ national BreakingBarriers campaign to bridge the gap in police-community relations, particularly as it relates to law enforcement and at-risk youth.

BreakingBarriers will include dozens of AMIkids programs in 9 states with community-based events that will increase dialogue and positive interactions between law enforcement and troubled youth. AMIkids will sustain this partnership with ongoing relationship-building activities that will have a lasting impact on the police officers and communities they serve. It aims to improve the outlook and perceptions of troubled youth and law enforcement by encouraging communication that identifies commonalities and clarifies the roles each play in building strong communities.

The debut AMIkids BreakingBarriers event began with the program’s youth serving a meal to Tampa law enforcement, showcasing their vocational training in food service. The meal was followed by a guided common ground activity and discussion with the kids and police officers co-facilitated by an AMIkids mental health counselor and case manager.  The group then served at Feeding Tampa Bay to further their interaction, engagement and open dialogue while giving back to the community.

For more information about the campaign visit: AMIkids.org/BreakingBarriers.

The Circuit Advisory Board for Circuit 8 held its regular quarterly meeting at the Office of the Public Defender in Gainesville. Approximately 20 people attended the meeting and topics included updates on the Request for Proposals - After School Contract, 3-year comprehensive plan, 2017 Legislative Session, civil citation, Juvenile Diversion Alternative Program, and the community service project. Last year, Circuit 8 adopted Duval Park in Gainesville and they continue to maintain the park within their community. 

In the above photo, from left to right, Rebecca Rogers, ACPO; Onazina Washington, Delinquency Prevention Specialist; Patrice Richardson, CAB Coordinator; Rebecca Shinholser, CAB Chair; Stacy Scott, Public Defender; Diane Pearson, CPO; and Cindy Blankenship, CAB Secretary.

Probation Update

Lakeland Police & Fire Department recently partnered with the BAYS Florida Circuit 10 JDAP office for a basketball tournament with a special mission. A number of youth from the program squared off against the police officers and firefighters for a fun, challenging and competitive experience! The tournament, aimed at promoting positive interactions between our youth and law enforcement, was held at a local community center. Several JDAP youth participated and earned community service hours by working at the concession stand. Additionally, the Lakeland Fire Chief, leaders from Lakeland Police Department, several community leaders, and various community partners came by to support the event. Bringing our Lakeland community together in such a positive way to support the youth we serve is just one way that BAYS Florida is committed to building and bridging strong communities and inspiring change.

Circuit 2 Reform Specialist Sam Lyons met with Circuit Judge Terry Lewis from Franklin County to promote collaboration and to discuss delinquency court operations. Lewis was appointed in 1998 by then Governor Lawton Chiles and is best known for overseeing the Florida recount during the 2000 Presidential Election. Judge Lewis was very pleased with the meeting and is looking forward to working with our agency during the coming year.

In addition, Sam met with the newly elected Sheriff of Franklin County Tony Smith to discuss the county’s successes with civil citation over the past year and how they can improve the process going forward. Sam gave a presentation showing data that reveals the positive effects of civil citation use, and Sheriff Smith is looking forward to working diligently with the Circuit 2 probation office in the coming year.

Circuit 14 JPO Detra Gainer participated in the “Fun Day” at Foxwood Apartments in Panama City which was hosted by the LEAD Coalition of Bay County. Gainer is a member of the LEAD Coalition as well as Juveniles Understanding Discipline, Order and Service (JUDOS). The event was organized in response to several shooting incidents at the apartment complex in the hope of bringing the community back together in a positive way. The fun day was well attended, and follow-up events are being planned to keep the community spirit going in this neighborhood.

I am pleased to share the following letter from newly hired Circuit 14 JPO Mark Cansler who expressed his appreciation for the warm reception and professionalism he experienced from his fellow colleagues as he began his career with DJJ. It reads: 

The reception that the Circuit 14 Department of Juvenile Justice Panama City, FL provided to me has been the most substantial of any job that I have ever received.  The initial contact made with Barbara Gallira (Administration) and JPO Darrell Torbett provided all required guidance to complete the application process effectively without error.  Barbara ensured that I was at all times provided with updates as they occurred concerning my application. Additionally, she assisted with the required documentation by providing accurate information to identify and obtain needed items. 

The initial hiring date was one unlike any that I ever experienced when beginning work at a new job.  From the front desk Ashley Skinner to the Chief Probation Officer Marcia Reightnour, all staff and JPO’s made me feel welcomed and impressed upon me that I had their full support.  A very comprehensive orientation of the Circuit 14 Probation office, the Bay Regional Juvenile Detention Center and JAC was given by SJPO Kevin McKenzie.  All BRJDC and JAC staff afforded the very same welcome and support to me when I arrived.  All questions that I had were answered by SJPO Julia Robertson and JPO LaShaun Thompson; they reflected an atmosphere of teamwork and a sense of caring for all youth who enter the facility.

Unity, teamwork and support is what I experience in the Circuit 14 Department of Juvenile Justice. The staff here do care about each other and most definitely the Assistant Chief Probation Officer Fred Womack is a true example of this.  I have been hired into jobs in the past that the orientation stated team work and support, but in time I discovered that was not the case.  Never have I had such dedication and support to help ensure I am successful in a new job.  In closing I want to say thank you Circuit 14 for all that you do!

Mark Cansler, JPO C14

Last week, Reform Specialist Adrienne Conwell, JDAI Coordinator Karin Popkowski, and Delinquency Prevention Specialist Pat McGhee from Circuit 6 hosted a DJJ resource table during the Pinellas County Student Services Bonanza at Largo High School.

This event was a professional development training day for Pinellas County School student service staff who consist of social workers, psychologists, nurses, school counselors, and prevention specialists. The bonanza gave our agency the opportunity to provide awareness and educational information as it relates to school staff.

Reform Specialist Melinda Wesley-Nelson and JPO Joirdan Allen from Circuit 9 hosted a DJJ informational both during the Zenith Accelerated Learning Academy’s Criminal Justice Career Day on February 16. Melinda and Joirdan provided over 450 middle and high school students with an overview of DJJ, the role and job duties of a juvenile probation officer and answered questions.

The career fair, which also hosted military personnel, law enforcement agencies and judicial representatives was designed to allow students to interact with people that work in various criminal justice fields. It provided the youth in attendance a greater understanding of these professions and inspires them as they decide on what they would like their profession to be in the future.  

ACPO Johnny Alderman and Reform Specialist Melinda Wesley-Nelson from Circuit 9 hosted a DJJ resource table during the University of Central Florida’s (UCF) Public Service Conference on February 17. The event was hosted by the Delta Zeta Omega Chapter of Lambda Alpha Epsilon, the National Association of Criminal Justice and the Career Services Department of UCF. It was designed to allow students at UCF with an interest in serving the public as a career to network with various public service agencies. In addition, ACPO Alderman served as a panelist during the Exploring Careers in Public Service Workshop in which he shared his career choice, his experiences with the Department of Juvenile Justice, and answered questions.  

The Seminole County probation office hosted a total of eleven families during their recent family orientation night. Probation staff showed these families a short video introducing them to probation services and gave them information on how probation officers support families with completing probation sanctions and transitioning off probation with valuable skills that last. Parents were introduced to the probation staff and were given a list of upcoming events including a 10-week poetry program, an anger management class, Youth MOVES, an upcoming G.A.A.P. discussion in March and an art theory program coming in April. 

I would like to thank CEO Gwen McLeod of We Leap, Inc. and DJJ faith-based representative to the Circuit 19 Advisory Board in St. Lucie County for organizing events centered on teen dating violence and prevention awareness month.

Gwen put together a teen dating violence symposium which featured music, line dancing, and informational booths. The community partners that participated in the symposium include the Children’s Home Society, Big Brothers/Big Sisters and DJJ. The event was a huge success, and Gwen has been instrumental in raising awareness of teen dating violence and faith based initiatives in Circuit 19!

We are thrilled to welcome our newest reform specialist, Monica Ardila, who will be continuing the amazing reform efforts in Circuit 17. Monica Ardila is a Florida Atlantic University graduate who began her career with the Department of Juvenile Justice in 2015. She quickly ascended from juvenile probation officer to senior juvenile probation officer. During this time, she clearly demonstrated her commitment to providing quality probation case management and exemplary customer service to both internal and external DJJ customers. In addition to working with the Department, Monica also works at the Covenant House, a local crisis shelter for homeless and at-risk youth.

Residential Update

Earlier this month, the youth of the Melbourne Center for Personal Growth, a non-secure program for boys, ages 13 to 18, which is operated by AMIkids, Inc.  assisted in the registration process for the Brevard Zoo’s Komodo Krawl 3K run that was held at the Brevard County Zoo in partnership with the Running Zone Foundation.  The event had more than 1,000 people register with two groups of runners who started 30 minutes apart.

The youth were filled with excitement throughout the day as they put their customer service skills to good use, thanks to the Certified Medical Assistance Association Program.  Many thanks go to Keith Winsten, the director of the Brevard County Zoo, and to Don and Denise Piercy with the Running Zone Foundation for giving the boys this community service opportunity.

Many thanks to Duval County Public Schools for donating 21 computers to the Duval Academy, a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to18, which is operated by Sequel TSI of Florida, LLC. 

The donated computers will help the students and the program’s classroom conform to the Florida Standards and the curricula of their peers.  The education and skills the students learn in the program will help decrease the dropout rate and provide them with the opportunity to increase job and computer skills.  This also helps the students as they transition to their home communities. 

February was a very busy month for the youth in Jacksonville Youth Academy (JYA), a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC.    The students enjoyed a day off-campus when they visited the campus of Jacksonville University (JU). 

JU was founded in 1934 and moved to its present location in the early 1950s.  During the guided tour of the campus, the youth visited the athletic facilities, classrooms, dormitories, cafeteria, and the student union.  The experience inspired some of the boys who took the opportunity to speak with admission officers about attending JU in the future.  

JYA also sponsored a field trip to Sally Corporation headquarters.  The Sally Corporation is an animatronic manufacturing company that serves amusement parks, attractions, museums, and other retail clients worldwide.  While on tour of the warehouse, the youth learned about new ride animations that have not yet been released to the public.  They also got a behind-the-scenes look into the manufacturing of the rides and the robots and how the process begins with drawings and sketches that continue to the finished product. 

After a long, hard week of state testing and exams, some of the JYA students earned a trip to Dave & Buster’s where the advisory board members not only treated them to a nice meal, but they got to release some pent-up energy by playing games.   

On Feb. 17, the students of Marion Youth Academy (MYA), a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 19, which is operated by Sequel TSI of Florida, LLC, presented “Celebrate Black History Month” to the entire facility.  Ms. Lyles’ language arts classes wrote, edited, produced, and performed the program.

The students read their poems aloud, the “MYA Steppers” performed a dance, the students participated in a trivia contest that was led by Ms. Hill (the social studies teacher), Ms. Lyles entertained the audience with storytelling, and the students performed a skit that they wrote and produced titled “A World Without Black People.”  There was even a youth care worker who wrote and recited a poem as part of the program.  The program would not have been possible without the hard work of the cast and crew.  These students designed and produced all of the props and posters for the presentations.  Not only was the program a very entertaining presentation, but it was a very educational collaborative effort by the entire facility.