Welcome to the new DJJ Website!
Find out how to use the new site.

Secretary's Message

March 20, 2017

Secretary Daly’s Weekly Letter 

Happy first day of Spring! Although most of our country has not experienced spring-like weather recently, the new season is in fact upon us and with it comes rebirth and renewal. With cold winter days behind us, I hope you look to this new beginning as an opportunity for a fresh start and renewed purpose. With the legislative session in full swing, along with many wonderful events you will read about below, our DJJ staff, providers, and community stakeholders have been busy working to better the lives of Florida’s children and families.

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

2017 DJJ Youth Ambassadors

Last Wednesday marked one of my favorite events in the calendar year as DJJ along with the Florida Juvenile Justice Foundation (FJJF), the Florida Juvenile Justice Association (FJJA), and our partners recognized the 2017 DJJ Youth Ambassadors during a reception at Florida’s Historic Capitol.

This year we honored two outstanding young adults who have turned their lives around for the better after making contact with the juvenile justice system. These youth ambassadors serve as role models and mentors for other at-risk youth in their communities.

I was honored to share their inspiring stories which served as a powerful reminder of why we work in the field of juvenile justice and how the work we do can make a difference. This year’s youth ambassadors are:

Jesus Mendoza – Jesus was court referred to the Empowered Youth program after committing a felony offense at the age of 15 years old. Jesus successfully completed the program in the required six-month period and has continued to excel in his accomplishments. Jesus has represented the Empowered Youth program at the White House and at numerous conferences both in and outside of the United States. Jesus has never reoffended since his original charge, is a high school graduate, and has enrolled in college where he plans to major in Criminal Justice. He aspires to become a juvenile probation officer so that he can continue to serve as a guide and mentor for other inner city young men like himself.

Alyssa Beck – Alyssa is an advocate for survivors of sex trafficking and as a survivor herself, she has become a voice for those who have been silenced. Alyssa demonstrates a commitment to the needs of victims and survivors by dedicating her life’s work to the eradication of human trafficking. Sharing her experiences, Alyssa has been instrumental in effecting change at the public policy level. Alyssa’s own advocacy for survivors became personal when she testified against her traffickers resulting in their conviction and incarceration. Alyssa works at two organizations committed to the anti-trafficking movement, the Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center and at Rethreaded, a nonprofit organization founded to provide work for those escaping addiction, violence, human trafficking and prostitution.

DJJ solicits nominations for the Youth Ambassador Award from providers, community stakeholders and the public-at-large. Youth Ambassadors received a certificate and Youth Investment Award from the FJJF, which is the direct support organization for DJJ. This is the seventh year that DJJ has recognized Youth Ambassadors.

Pictured above (left to right): Representatives Matt Caldwell, Robert Asencio, Barrington Russell, Youth Ambassadors Jesus Mendoza and Alyssa Beck, Secretary Christina Daly, and Representative Bill Hager, Senator Randolph Bracy, and Representative Jason Brodeur.

Pictured above (left to right): FJJF Board of Directors Chair Paul Mitchell, Secretary Daly, Youth Ambassadors Alyssa Beck and Jesus Mendoza, and Pat Tuthill, FJJF.

Suits for Session

For the second consecutive year, DJJ teamed up with legislators, local non-profits, state agencies, and others to donate gently-worn professional attire during the #SuitsforSession campaign in conjunction with Volunteer Florida and Uber. The collection of clothing was coordinated by Goodwill Industries of the Big Bend and the State Division of Blind Services.

Over the last month, our agency has participated in this effort by placing a collection box in the lobby of the Knight Building at DJJ headquarters, where employees could donate their gently-worn attire. On Wednesday, Volunteer Florida held their final donation drive with an event at the Florida Capitol where they wrapped up their collection for #SuitsforSession. Volunteer Florida and Uber recently announced they collected more than 3,200 items.

Donations will be distributed to the following organizations who provide services for those seeking employment: Chapman Partnership in Miami, Dress for Success Tampa Bay, ECHO Outreach Ministries in Tallahassee, Bridges of America in Orlando, and the Florida State University Unconquered Scholars program.

Pictured above (left to right): Volunteer Florida CEO Chester Spellman and myself.

Detention Update

I’m pleased to announce that Jack McCotter has been promoted to Superintendent of the Collier RJDC effective March 10. McCotter began his career with DJJ as a detention officer at the Monroe RJDC in Key West back in 2006. He later transferred to the Southwest RJDC where he received cross training in specialized areas such as admission and release, served as a transportation coordinator and a detention review specialist. In 2015, he was promoted to Captain and was made interim Superintendent at Collier last year. On behalf of the entire agency, congratulations Major McCotter and we wish you nothing but the best in your new role!  

Pictured above: Jack McCotter (middle) is seen here receiving his Major leaf by Director Kevin Housel (left) and Major Dennis Driscoll (right). 

At the Miami-Dade RJDC, JJDOS Duviel Rosello managed a way to get the youth involved in an activity while giving back to their facility at the same time. Rosello and the youth constructed a ping-pong table that will be used for play in the recreation area at Miami-Dade. The table will bring joy to not only those who built it, but for future youth as well! 

The Okaloosa RJDC participated in International School Meals Day on March 9. Okaloosa joined many other schools and organizations across the globe to learn about other cultures and their traditions through their cuisine. This event allowed students, staff and teachers to experience learning beyond their classroom walls.

To participate in this unique event, the food service staff at Okaloosa diversified their menu with dishes inspired by different countries including the Philippines, Japan, Italy, and Uruguay just to name a few. Staff members joined in by bringing their own international cuisine and the youth enjoyed the wonderful food.

Pictured above (left to right): DS Veguilla, FSD Mrs. Linda, FSW Mrs. Mieko, FSW Mrs. Sandra, FSW Mrs. Donna, ADS Preston and JDOII Kirkland

In addition, staff members explained their individual dishes and how they were prepared. They also exhibited several items from other countries such as typical dress for men and women, hats, flags and ceremonial clothing.

I would like to give a special thanks to the food service crew at Okaloosa including: Food Services Director Linda Smudzinski, and Food Service Workers Mieko Morris, Donna Marshall and Sandra Caro who worked hard all day in prepping this one of a kind menu. Superintendent Ariel Veguilla hopes to make it a yearly tradition. 

Several weeks ago, I mentioned that the Okaloosa RJDC had partnered with Airman from the 96th Air Force Material Command at nearby Eglin Air Force Base for a variety of volunteer projects. Last Saturday, the airmen joined maintenance staff from Okaloosa and Escambia to help pull up the tile in the main boys living mod. In addition, the crew prepped the floors and even painted them.

What would have taken four to five days and several thousand dollars for a professional to complete was accomplished through teamwork in a mere eight hours.  The Volunteer Core of Airman did a terrific job and their hard work and dedication were commendable. I would like thank Okaloosa maintenance staff member Alex Cochran, Escambia maintenance staff member Bobby Cox and the following airmen for their tireless service: 1st Lt K. Montel; TSgt. K. Erhart; A1C Joshua T. Rawls; A1C Adam Hanlon; A1C Owen Provident and SrA Kyle Guardia. 

Dr. Kevin Coggins, lead teacher at the Pasco RJDC, along with the entire education department has been doing a phenomenal job at preparing our youth for taking their high school equivalency exams. On March 9, Dr. Coggins and Pasco staff held a graduation ceremony for three of their youth who received their high school diplomas. One young lady who graduated, SS, was a single mother that dropped out of school when she became pregnant. While in secure detention, she expressed an interest to receive her high school diploma. On the day of the graduation ceremony, she proudly wore her cap and gown.

Since June of last year, the education department at Pasco RJDC has graduated a total of 18 young men and women who are now ready to re-enter their communities. Once a youth and their parent agree on testing, the teachers at Pasco vigorously prepare each youth before their scheduled exam date.  

Staff members from the Offices of Detention Services and Probation recently hosted the Detention Review Specialist Training course at the Florida Public Safety Institute. Over 40 probation and detention officers attended the training, which allowed them to gain an understanding of the purpose of detention reviews, the policies and procedures for conducting them, as well as providing them an opportunity to network with staff from other areas. I would like to thank Minnie Bishop, Dennis McClure and Adrian Mathena for developing and delivering this training. 

The Office of Detention Services is pleased to announce that the detention uniform warehouse is fully operational. Along with the warehouse, online ordering for uniforms is also up and running. 

Research and Data Integrity Update 

Recently, DJJ was pleased to welcome a prestigious team of researchers to our state. The research team included KiDeuk Kim (lead researcher), Emily Tiry, Ashlin Oglesby-Neal, and Cathy Hu from The Urban Institute, Ryan Shields from Johns Hopkins University, and Grant Duwe from the Minnesota Department of Corrections. The research team is using Positive Achievement Change Tool (PACT) data from our agency and attempting to improve recidivism risk prediction for youth who have sexually-related offenses.

Pictured above (left to right): DJJ Administration Discussion Group- Grant Duwe, Judy Roysden, Jeannie Becker-Powell, Ashlin Oglesby-Neal, KiDeuk Kim, Kelly Hammersley, Sandra Pinkney, Ryan Egg, Katherine Gomez, and Lucille Rapale (not pictured).

For two days, the research team immersed themselves in a data presentation, a conversation with DJJ staff managing youth with sexually-related offenses, a meeting with clinical staff from G4S Outpatient Sex Offense Services (a DJJ-contracted sexual offense-specific treatment provider), and a tour of Columbus Juvenile Residential Facility (a DJJ-contracted nonsecure residential program for youth with sexually-related offenses).

Pictured above (left to right): DJJ Practitioner Group- Shamika Lewis, Johnny Odom, Robin Macias, Ryan Shields, Emily Tiry, Cathy Hu, Katherine Gomez, Wakesha Phidd, Rachael Pierre-Louis, Sandra Lloyd, Amanda Torrence, William Cook, Kristen Richardson, Shaa’Kira Hamm, Kenson Vincent, Dennis McKinney, Daryl Wolfgang, and Kim Myers (not pictured).

The event was coordinated by Katherine C. Gomez, research analyst in the Office of Research and Data Integrity. Many thanks go to the DJJ staff members who assisted with coordinating the event, including Assistant Secretary for Residential Services Laura Moneyham,  Assistant Secretary for Probation and Community Intervention Paul Hatcher,  Residential Services Central Regional Director, Tom McFadyen, and Probation & Community Intervention Central Regional Director Cathy Lake.  Thanks also to the DJJ staff members who attended and provided valuable feedback to the research team.  I also wish to thank the G4S Youth Services staff who graciously participated in the meetings and facilitated the tours, including:  William “Chip” Royall, program director at G4S Outpatient Sex Offense Services, Terry Mitchell, program director at Columbus Juvenile Residential Facility, Dr. Michael Baglivio, G4S director of research, and Dahlia Kaplan, chief clinical officer.

Pictured above: G4S Outpatient Sex Offense Program Meeting (Presenting) William “Chip” Royall, Program Director

The following is a letter of appreciation from Dr. KiDeuk Kim, lead researcher from the Urban Institute:

Dear Katherine,

Thank you so much for your hospitality during our visit to Tampa. We’ve learned a lot from everyone who took time out of their busy schedule to speak with us. As we mentioned during our meeting yesterday, no other state partners have gathered that many stakeholders to share valuable information with us. Certainly, it would not have been possible without your passion and support for research for which my team and I are deeply grateful.

As we march through this project, I will make sure to keep you and Mark updated on major developments and opportunities for further collaboration.  Again, thank you so much for your time and support for our project. Please extend our gratitude to everyone who was part of our 2-day visit to Tampa.

Best regards,



I’m pleased to share the following article featured in the March/April edition of Corrections Today. The article entitled, “Unlocking Knowledge: Florida’s Researcher-Practitioner Partnership Works,” highlights our implementation of the Standardized Program Evaluation Protocol (SPEP) which led to the development of the Disposition Matrix. The Disposition Matrix is the Department’s structured decision making tool used by juvenile probation officers (JPOs) in their disposition recommendations. It takes into account the offense and risk of reoffending to assist JPOs when making recommendations to the court and in matching youths to appropriate treatment programs.

Prevention Update

Young ladies from the PACE Center for Girls of Miami recently made a presentation at the Miami-Dade County Commissioners Meeting. The girls were asked to present by Commissioner Pepe Diaz who was looking to highlight the work being done with Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) programs and PACE Miami was asked to share information on their Robotics program.

Two PACE Miami students, Faith and Jealize, wore their Ambassador shirts and were eager to stand at the microphone and share with the county commissioners their experience in the 6-week Robotics workshop.  The girls explained that they loved learning how to write code, program and build a Lego robot!  Their greatest success was being able to direct the robot in different directions.

Pictured above: County Mayor Gimenez, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, poses with PACE girls Faith and Jealize.

After the presentation, Commissioner Diaz and County Mayor Gimenez sought the girls out for pictures, and the girls were very excited! The girls gave a beautiful presentation and certainly made PACE Miami very proud!!

Pictured above: County Commissioner Pepe Diaz (center) poses with PACE girls Faith and Jealize. Standing at far left is Sherry Thompson Giordano, Executive Director, PACE Miami. Standing at right is Gabriela Diaz, Business Manager, PACE Miami.

Assistant Secretary for Prevention and Victim Services Alice Sims, Community Engagement Coordinator Verla Lawson-Grady and Delinquency Prevention Specialist Onazina Washington III attended the Day for Dialogue on Minority Health at the Wakulla One-Stop Community Center in Crawfordville. The event was sponsored by the Florida Department of Health and Big Bend Hospice.

Assistant Secretary Sims was the keynote speaker and provided a motivational message regarding health and well-being. She encouraged attendees to be more aware of their diets and to make healthier choices by implementing positive lifestyle changes.

The event included a panel discussion comprised of faith-based representatives from various churches who have implemented health initiatives for their congregations. The panelists stressed education, and discussed how to develop a model for other churches and how to incorporate this positive initiative. In addition, Verla and Onazina set up a DJJ display booth that contained education materials relating to prevention services provided by the Department as well as other services available.  

Pictured above (left to right): Verla Lawson-Grady, Alice Sims and Onazina Washington.

The Circuit 3 Advisory Board (CAB) held their regular meeting at the Lake City Police Department where topics included updates on request for proposals for an afterschool contract, Fox Valley technical trainings regarding disproportionate minority contact, the legislative session, and Effective Practices In Community Supervision (EPICS) as well as updates from the Racial & Ethnic Disparity Subcommittee.

In addition, the CAB meeting featured a presentation from William Bloodworth who is the Director of Camp Anderson, a Christian retreat and summer camp in Old Town. Its programming and facilities include rustic, yet modern, climate controlled accommodations, fun activities, food service and a staff that consists of skilled ministry professionals. The camp’s team members have hearts of missionaries and are passionate about helping to meet the spiritual needs of young people.

Pictured above (left to right): Craig Swain, Faith Network Coordinator; Michelle Galloway, Circuit 3 Reform Specialist; Onazina Washington, Delinquency Prevention Specialist for Circuits 2, 3, & 8; Patrice Richardson, Circuit Advisory Board Coordinator; Shauna Adams-Farries, Director of Hamilton County Free Tobacco Coalition; William Bloodworth,  Camp Anderson Director; Tom Witt, Circuit 3 CPO; Emily Lumpkin, Executive Director of Hamilton County Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention Coalition; Verla Lawson-Grady, Community Engagement  Coordinator; John Hancock, Circuit 3 ACPO; and Curtis Jenkins, Circuit 3 CAB Chair.  

Assistant Secretary for Prevention Alice Sims, Faith Network Coordinator Craig Swain and Human Trafficking Director Bethany Gilot participated in the Circuit 2 Human Trafficking Symposium at the First Baptist Church of Tallahassee. The Symposium was designed to build awareness of human trafficking issues in the Florida Big Bend Communities while empowering and activating the faith community to get involved.

The symposium included a panel with representatives from The Porch Light, the Tallahassee Police Department, the United Church of Tallahassee, Survive and Thrive Advocacy Center and DJJ.

The Big Bend Coalition Against Human Trafficking is a group of North Florida entities who work together to tackle human trafficking. The mission of the Coalition is to aid the victims of human trafficking, to raise awareness about human trafficking, to establish multi-agency collaborations to investigate and prosecute human traffickers, and to propose and advocate for policies intended to end human trafficking.

Pictured above (left to right): Bethany Gilot, Alice Sims, and Ernie Sims.

Community Engagement Coordinator Verla Lawson-Grady attended a Black History Month Celebration sponsored by the Department of Children and Families at the R.A. Gray Building Auditorium in Tallahassee. Pat Smith from DCF moderated the event whose theme was “Strengthening Communities One Family at a Time.”

The keynote speaker was former NFL head coach Tony Dungy, a New York Times best-selling author and the first African-American head football coach in the National Football League to win the Super Bowl. The father of three biological children and the adoptive father of seven, Mr. Dungy believes that being a father is his most important job.

During this event, DCF honored local African-Americans for their dedication to improving communities, exceptional leadership and support of safe and self-sufficient families.  The honorees were: Katrina Rolle, President/CEO of the United Way of the Big Bend; Hershel Lyons, Chancellor of Public Schools, Florida Department of Education; Mike Williams, Independent Living Youth; Adream Bennett, DCF Client Relations Coordinator, NW Region; & TaMaryn Waters, Tallahassee Democrat reporter.

Special Guests included members of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus. In 1983, the Florida Legislative Black Caucus was established to unite and increase the political power of black legislative members. The Caucus is an integral part of the Florida legislative infrastructure and is currently led by Chair Perry Thurston of the Florida Senate and Vice-Chair Bruce Antone of the Florida House of Representatives.

Last week, Deputy Secretary Tim Niermann, Assistant Secretary for Prevention Alice Sims, Circuit 8 CPO Diane Pearson, Faith Network Coordinator Craig Swain and Delinquency Prevention Specialist Onazina Washington III attended a Faith Network Meeting hosted by Pastor Gerard Duncan of Prayers by Faith Ministry in Gainesville.

Pastor Duncan, the 2016 Florida Faith Symposium Champion of Hope award recipient, operates the Innovative Dads (iD) Program which provides services to encourage, empower, and establish “troubled fathers.”  Innovative Dads was birthed through Pastor Duncan by the experiences of his own life, in the absence of his own father being a part of his life and the countless men that he has encountered who have lacked the support, accountability, knowledge and encouragement to be great fathers. The mission of the program is to equip men to become better fathers and role models for their children, families and community.

Pictured above (from left to right): Craig Swain, Diane Pearson, Assistant Secretary Alice Sims, Deputy Secretary Niermann, Pastor Gerard Duncan, and Onazina Washington.

Pastor Duncan is a faith network partner who has a passion and heart to do more to serve at-risk youth.  He is interested in connecting and networking with DJJ and share the wisdom and knowledge of sustainability and community mobilization to other faith organizations and communities. Staff who attended said that it was truly a great opportunity to meet with Pastor Duncan to offer the support from the department and connect with such a passionate stakeholder who is committed to combating juvenile delinquency in Alachua County.  

Residential Update

The residents of Marion Youth Academy(MYA), a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 19, which is operated by Sequel TSI of Florida, LLC, worked as volunteers at the 5th Annual Habitat Strawberry Festival in Ocala.  The weather was perfect for the event and Mr. Alexander, the MYA instructor for Home Builders Inc., along with Mr. Elkins, the MYA lead teacher, and facility staff accompanied the students to the festival.  MYA students and staff were assigned traffic control duties.  They were responsible for controlling vehicle and pedestrian traffic at the main intersection leading into the festival.  The students performed flawlessly! 

Many thanks go to Mr. Alexander for arranging this community service opportunity through the event’s sponsor, Habitat for Humanity, to MYA Facility Administrator John Fletcher for his staff’s involvement, and to the MYA Education Department for the flexible course schedule on Friday that made it possible for the students to participate in the event.

Youth and staff at Duval Academy, a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by Sequel TSI of Florida, LLC, celebrated Black History Month with a presentation by Charmaine Gowans of VOYA Financial and Attorney Denise Parsons.  The youth enjoyed listening to the presenters and the day also included a special meal. With help from their teacher, Ms. Woolbright, the boys made posters that were displayed throughout the building, which highlighted many great achievements of African-American citizens.

Black History Month also was celebrated at Columbus Juvenile Residential Facility, a non-secure program for boys, ages 10 to 18, which is operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC.  The residents celebrated by focusing and recognizing 28 days of black history, heritage, accomplishments and culture that have influenced America’s past, present, and future.

The Black History Month events began with the students and staff being treated to delicious “soul food” and learning about how the concept of soul food was born in the mid-1960s.  Each day in February, the youth created posters that represented historical black accomplishments.  The Black History Month celebration concluded with a play that focused on the importance of unity. 

Come one, come all to see the Great Zambini!  The youth and staff of Martin Girls Academy (MGA), a high- and maximum-risk program for girls, ages 13 to 18, which is operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC, were surprised with a magic show performed by Dr. Most.  When he isn’t volunteering his time as his alter ego “The Great Zambini,” he is the oral surgeon who provides specialty dentistry for the youth at MGA.

The youth had such a wonderful time and watching the wonder and surprise on their faces was priceless.  MGA staff participated in the show and many of the youth stepped out of their comfort zones and took active roles in the show as well.  

The residents of the Residential Alternative for the Mentally Challenged (RAMC), a non-secure program for boys, ages nine to 18, which is operated by Twin Oaks Juvenile Development, Inc., participated in the annual Black History Program.  The youth had the opportunity to learn fun filled facts about the staff via a game of Jeopardy.  Prior to this special presentation, the youth researched and completed a poster on an influential black leader from the past or from the present whose contributions were instrumental in the course of American history.  The boys then presented their posters with short essays as part of the event, which concluded with a special soul food meal.  

Staff Development and Training Update

On March 10th, the Office of Staff Development and Training hosted the quarterly Statewide Training Manager’s Meeting in an opportunity for managers from state agencies to come together and share ideas, network with fellow training managers, and discuss ways to enhance training efforts across the state. I had the opportunity to serve as a speaker along with Chief of Staff Fred Schuknecht who shared with the attendees about the reform work of the Department as well as the roles and responsibilities of the Office of Staff Development and Training.

People First Director, Mr. David DiSalvo also shared with the group about the enterprise-wide learning management system that would be used by all agencies and housed within People First. We would also like to thank the Chief Learning Officer from the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, Desiree Nero for providing the group with an exercise in best practices networking which helped in facilitating conversations between different agencies.

Special thanks to Cina Wilson Johnson, the Acting Director of Staff Development and Training for facilitating this meeting and Robert “Danny” Rutherford and Jon Howard from Staff Development and Training for organizing and aiding in the success of this meeting.

Probation Update

Circuit 8 CPO Diane Pearson recently served on a panel discussion during the Human Trafficking Symposium at Florida Gateway College in Lake City. Pearson was joined by representatives from FDLE, DCF, Child Advocacy and the Partnership for Strong Families on a panel where the over 90 attendees could ask questions regarding human trafficking. The symposium was designed to offer education and awareness for those working to curb human trafficking. 

Circuit 13 Reform Specialist Sandra Pinkney teamed up with Hillsborough County substance abuse providers including ACTS, DACCO and the Phoenix House to host the inaugural Behavioral Health Fair for juvenile probation officers. Each provider featured a presenter who talked about their individual programs and resource tables with additional information.

Circuit 16 CPO Geoff Peattie and a team of JPOs partnered with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department to give a presentation to local middle school students regarding sexting and cyberbullying. The presentation was aimed to inform the students of the dangers and the potential consequences of these growing abuses.