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

Secretary's Message

May 8, 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

JJSIP Update

Last week in Port St. Lucie, DJJ completed its roll out in Circuit 19 of the Juvenile Justice System Improvement Project (JJSIP) by initiating the case studies review process at the St. Lucie County Health Department. Participation in the case review process included 30 community stakeholders, including Chief Judge Elizabeth Metzger, and DJJ staff members who reviewed three closed cases presented by Circuit 19 juvenile probation officer supervisors, Robert Fino, Nathan Peterson, and Ann Marie Campbell. 

The next day, Circuit 9, consisting of Orange and Osceola counties, completed its JJSIP roll out by initiating the review of three closed cases with more than two dozen community stakeholders and DJJ staff participants at the juvenile assessment center in Orlando. The Circuit 9 cases were presented by JPOS Eileen Sevile, ACPO Johnny Alderman, and JPOS Abby Anderson. This was the first time that the review of a closed case resulted in the local review team meeting coming together the very next afternoon, which was initiated by the community partners at the table, to address how best to serve the siblings of the youth from the closed case. 

Shown above: Circuit 19 CPO Wydee’a Wilson (standing) addressed the event’s participants and led the group in self-introductions.  Next, Director of Policy & Programming for Probation & Community Intervention Jeannie Becker-Powell (seated, foreground) gave the group an overview of JJSIP and explained the purpose and process of the case reviews.

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 at an earlier point in the youth’s life, ultimately 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. DJJ headquarters staff members Jeannie Becker-Powell (Probation), Meg Bates (Residential), Vanessa Wicker-Reeves (Residential), and Lytha Belrose (Residential) participated in the case studies review process to assist in facilitating discussion about the cases in both circuits. 

Shown above: community partners and DJJ staff at the Circuit 9 JJSIP case studies review.  

Many thanks go to Circuit 19 CPO Wydee’a Wilson, Circuit 19 ACPO Dorothy Malik, Circuit 9 CPO Jill Wells, Circuit 9 ACPO Johnny Alderman, Circuit 9 Reform Specialist Melinda Wesley-Nelson, and Probation Central Regional Director Cathy Lake for their hospitality and work to host each initial JJSIP case studies workshop.  Also, a special thanks goes to Publix Supermarkets in Orlando for its donation to assist with providing lunch for the stakeholders and staff who participated in the case studies review for Circuit 9.

Probation Update

Every success story starts with a dream and for Quelson Pierre, his dream is to help others succeed.  Quelson has shared his story many times including at the 2016 Faith Symposium and when he served as the moderator at the recent Bridging the G.A.A.P. (Gaining Appreciation by Adjusting Perspectives) in Orlando that was mentioned in our previous weekly letter.

Quelson successfully completed the Eckerd Kids Project Bridge program but remains involved with the program due to his strong desire to become a spokesperson for youth involved with DJJ.  He wants to also be able to speak to youth not involved with DJJ to share some personal insight from his experiences. Eckerd Kids Project Bridge continues to maintain involvement with Quelson and provide him with various leadership opportunities to assist with his passion for public speaking.  He is currently involved in the Eckerd Kids Project Bridge Advisory Council for Eastern region as well as the Circuit 9 Juvenile Justice Circuit Advisory Board.  Eckerd Kids Project Bridge looks forward in supporting Quelson with his efforts and continued success. 

Shown above: Youth Quelson Pierre speaking as moderator during the Bridging the G.A.A.P. event in Orlando. 

Circuit 6 Reform Specialist Adrienne Conwell recently participated in the Pasco County Sheriff's Office Resource Fair. This event provides child protective investigators, foster care case managers, staff from the State Attorney's Office, as well as community agencies the opportunity to meet with local service providers and obtain useful resource information. In addition, this interactive event opened the lines of communication between first responders and the community service providers. 

DJJ had an information table with brochures and the event allowed for our staff to meet and discuss our services with attendees, especially as it relates to cross-over youth, who are served by both the dependency and juvenile delinquency systems. 

ACPO Dorothy Malik, SJPO LaSheri Baker, and JPO LeAndrea Darden from Circuit 19 attended a Pop-Up Park Party, held by the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office (SLCSO). Youth and community members participated in a number of activities including basketball, football, jump rope, and hula hoops. There were free dental screenings for youth and a number of career and GED prep resources. School resource deputies grilled hot dogs and provided drinks to youth and their families.

As part of their community outreach, the SLCSO has held several street parties in order to foster stronger bonds between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve. The party was well attended and our Circuit 19 DJJ staff had a great time attending this community event!

Circuit 15 probation staff participated in the 7th Annual Youth Summit, a yearly event for middle and high school students. The theme for the Summit this year was ‘Open Your Mind’ and attendees received valuable education and local resource information on a large range of topics including: racial equity, gang prevention, alcohol and substance awareness, trauma, healthy relationships, career readiness, cyber-bullying, domestic violence, social anxiety and peer pressure. The students had keynote speakers, teambuilding exercises, workshops and Think Fast interactive gaming. This year the Summit reached 489 youth from all areas of Palm Beach County. All youth received ten community service hours for attending this inspiring event!

The Summit was presented through a collaborative effort with the following partners: Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, Urban League of Palm Beach County, School District of Palm Beach County, Palm Beach County Substance Awareness Coalition, Department of Children & Families, West Palm Beach Police Department, Molina Health Care, Eta Phi Beta Sorority, Palm Beach County Youth Services Dept., The Department of Juvenile Justice and other community partners.

CPO Greg Starling, Reform Specialist Shirlon McCarty, SJPOs Charlene Moxey and Vernon Jackson and JPOs Christine Rouse, Shaday Peeples, Rebakah Wilson, Ashley Miller, Jada Thomas, Marvin Blaise and Kyle Marks all volunteered their time to assist with the set-up, breakfast, registration, youth transitions, and  lunch. The staff participation was greatly appreciated by all!

Circuit 14 Probation Services was proud to honor staff for their years of service to both the youth under DJJ supervision and to our state. Sr. JPO Derrick Henderson has served for 10 years and JPO Greg Parker has served for 15 years.  These staff members were recently recognized during a circuit-wide staff meeting and were presented with their service pins by Chief Probation Officer Marcia Reightnour and Assistant Chief Probation Officer Fred Womack. We are all very grateful for their long-standing dedication to DJJ and to Florida.

Pictured above (left  to right):  ACPO Fred Womack, Sr. JPO Derrick Henderson, JPO Greg Parker and CPO Marcia Reightnour.

Circuit 14 Reform Specialist Heather Nowell arranged for Lt. J. R. Talamendez with the Panama City Beach Police Department to share his presentation on the "Parents Against Predators" program with fellow DJJ staff in Circuit 14.  Lt. Talamendez explained how sexual predators use social media to target and attract vulnerable youth. This program provides parents with insight into how easy it is for predators to contact their children and how they can help to prevent it.  Panama City Beach Police Dept. regularly holds parenting classes to keep parents in the know, and stresses the importance of parents getting and staying involved in what their children are doing online.   

JPO Maggy Yost and JPO Shanice Keith from Circuit 7 presented to the Law and Government Academy students at Atlantic High School on what services DJJ provides to the youth in their communities. They also discussed the duties of a juvenile probation officer and other aspects of the juvenile justice system. They also expressed the joy they feel when helping children turn their lives around and how rewarding the job of a juvenile probation officer can be. 

The students were able to gain a better understanding of the delinquency court system and the process of being on probation supervision. The students then participated in a question and answer session and showed great interest in the work of our agency. 

Eckerd Kids Project Bridge in Circuit 18 has partnered with Walk on Water in an effort to continue to provide youth with restorative justice opportunities.  Walk on Water is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing individuals with the opportunity to experience and bond with horses in a safe and loving environment. The program is assisting in teaching youth responsibility, self-confidence, teamwork and communication skills with the help of their equine partners.

Youth, Michael Leport, Neven Smith and Savannah Dorsey-Carter recently attended a session and enjoyed being able to work alongside with the horses.  Eckerd Kids Project Bridge greatly appreciates the assistance of our community partners like Walk on Water, who continue to provide youth with second chances and the opportunity to succeed.  

Prevention Update 

Assistant Secretary for Prevention and Victim Services Alice Sims and Delinquency Prevention Specialist Marie Boswell recently toured the PACE Center for Girls in Broward County. They were provided the tour of the facility by Aggie Pappas, PACE Broward Executive Director and PACE girls from the facility delivered a walk-through tour of the services that are provided in the program.

The décor of the areas where counseling, academic, life skill and other services are provided and the facility, as a whole, were unique and provided an atmosphere conducive to the success of the youth in the program.

In 2010, new program components were added through The PACE Reach Center, an alternative to girls not wanting to enroll in the academic program. They offer New D.A.Y. (Diversion Alternatives for Youth) and therapeutic counseling through Reach counseling. In 2015 Girls Court was created offering therapeutic services to some of Broward’s most vulnerable population, girls in the delinquency system, to help reduce their sanctions while giving them much needed services.

Pictured above (left to right): Marie Boswell, Aggie Pappas, and Alice Sims.

Now in their 23rd year of providing services, PACE Broward has served over 4,000 girls in the academic and counseling PACE Day Program and in the PACE Reach Center.

Delinquency Prevention Specialist Andria George recently coordinated a G.A.A.P. discussion in Jacksonville. Participants in the G.A.A.P. discussion included Officers Joe Richardson, Ronald Jenkins, Jeffrey Newsom and Jeremy Clark as well as Lt. Steve Mullen and Officer Greg Sharp. The young men from the EVAC Movement rounded out the panelists. The youth from the EVAC Movement, who all attend Robert E. Lee High School, have become a voice for criminal justice reform among youth in Duval County.  The officers and students discussed the issues of crime in Duval County, as well as what can be done to make their community a better and safer place.

The students also discussed their fears over how they or their friends and relatives have been treated by police, as well as their trepidation in approaching officers for fear of repercussions.  Throughout the discussion, the officers were understanding and sought to give the youth advice. Officers listened and validated the youth’s concerns. Moreover, the young men from EVAC were respectful in their conversations with officers while sharing some valid points.

DJJ staff in attendance included Donna Clayton and Minetricia Monbrun from Circuit 4; Onazina Washington, delinquency prevention specialist, Circuits 2, 3, and 8; Marcus Smith, DJJ prevention policy chief. Community partners in attendance were Alan Louder from the State Attorney’s Office and the Regency Square Branch Manager. There was food and fellowship before the discussion where Andrew George, director of the Duval County Reporting Center gave the blessing. There was a spirit of collaboration and understanding among all attendees, a hopeful beginning to continued discussions that will hopefully create better relations between the youth and officers.

Detention Update

Last week, the Office of Detention Services bid farewell to North Regional Director Mr. Jeff Wenhold, as he has accepted a position in the Office of Residential Services as the PREA coordinator. 

Detention staff hosted a lunch with both current and former employees in attendance to say goodbye.  Although he will be greatly missed, they wanted an opportunity to express their appreciation for all Director Wenhold has done for North Region Detention Services and wish him well in his new position.

Pictured above (from left to right): Sheddrick Brooks, Annette Franklin, Annie Williams, Robin White, Treneasia Condry, Jeff Wenhold, Pennie Slaughter, Ian Willis, Jeff Netherton, Otis Ray. 

For 10 years, Bay RJDC has sustained a year-round garden thanks in large part to our educational partners and Linda Anne Martin, the Bay District School Board liaison. Community partners include Sandy’s Feed and Seed, the Home Depot, in addition to a support from a local attorney, Mr. Hoot Crawford.  Working together since 2007, Mrs. Martin has kept up with what vegetables to grow during which season and has taken the garden from its original 4 raised beds to 13 raised beds, a compost wheel, and herbs grown in hydroponic buckets.  As some of the youth come from rural farm areas, they are sometimes able to teach our staff about gardening, while there are other youth that have lived their entire lives in an apartment complex and have never put their hands into fresh soil before now. 

The garden has been a great addition to the center for all these years and is a wonderful opportunity to teach the youth about horticulture. The garden and its impact on the youth even made front page news of the Panama City News Herald! 

The Brevard RJDC hosted an appreciation dinner for their volunteers to coincide with National Volunteer Appreciation Week. Certificates of appreciation were presented to Pastor Keith Hughes, Jacqueline Welk, Elizabeth Tobin, Terry Spain and Pastor Victor Dodzweit.

Joining in the celebration were the level 3 youth. The volunteers were so surprised and excited to see the youth and the interaction was amazing.

Pastor Keith Hughes led in a blessing of the food and the menu consisted of meatballs, pigs in a blanket, chips and dip, chicken salad, deviled eggs, fruit salad, cookies, cupcakes, soda and lemonade to drink. Major McKinney and Captain Guerra acknowledged the volunteer’s dedication and value to the facility and the youth. Brevard RJDC is so blessed to have such dedicated volunteers that truly care so deeply for the youth of Brevard County. 

The Orange RJDC also took time out to honor all of their volunteers for the excellent services they provide to the youth at the center. They have been a delight to work with due to their vibrant personalities and interest in the youth. Orange RJDC volunteers are enthusiastic and have boundless energy which fills everyone around them with the same enthusiasm and joy for giving. Ten volunteers were present at the celebration and those in attendance were honored with a token of appreciation certificates and refreshments.

Duval RJDC also held their volunteer appreciation luncheon at the facility, which included a meet and greet among the different churches and their volunteer members so that they would get to know one another. Major Mark Refour welcomed and introduced each guest and all volunteers were given praise and many thanks for the dedication and time they provide to the youth at the facility. Many of our volunteers have been coming to the facility for over 10 years. All of the volunteers were provided a beautiful lunch meal and refreshments, which was prepared by Annie Ezell and served by Captain Delmonica Harris. Duval RJDC would like to thank all of their volunteers for their time and dedication to serving the youths at the facility and greatly appreciate their hard work. 

Okaloosa wrapped up National Volunteer Month with a bang! What started out with a simple hamburger and hot dog cook out as appreciation for their volunteers and staff turned out to be a BBQ feast of epic proportions! Volunteers brought in homemade delicacies like macaroni salad, coleslaw, potato salad, ribs, chicken, smoked ham and a 25-pound brisket smoked for 24 hours made by Staff Sergeant Ford, volunteer coordinator out of Eglin Air Force Base.

Staff, volunteers, and of course the youth, had a great time sharing and celebrating as a family. The youth made posters and cards thanking the volunteers and certificates and awards were handed out to the volunteers that have put in the most hours volunteering at the facility. No matter the amount of time, Okaloosa RJDC is thankful for all of their dedicated volunteers as they know every minute they spend volunteering at the facility makes a difference. 

Residential Update

The young men of Broward Youth Treatment Center (BYTC), a non-secure program for boys, ages 13 to 18, which is operated by Youth Opportunity Investments, LLC, gave back to the community by helping keep a local Miami historical cemetery open. Lincoln Park Cemetery is at risk of possibly closing and many of the neighboring residents joined forces to clean up and restore the cemetery. For two days, the BYTC residents and staff worked alongside community residents. The boys gained a sense of civic pride by helping the community restore the graves of World War II veterans, community leaders, and residents. Their tasks included pulling weeds and trimming trees that grew over the graves. Once uncovered, the graves were pressure washed and painted as needed. It was a challenging task in the South Florida heat but well worth it. 

Palm Beach Youth Academy, a secure program for boys, ages 15 to 21, which is operated by Sequel TSI of Florida, LLC, welcomed back Emanuel Alex with Functional Form Yoga for another session of yoga with the residents. He led a discussion with the boys about yoga and its many benefits, then he taught a 90-minute class that challenged the boys’ bodies and minds.  Afterward, the participants reported that although they got a workout, the yoga class also made them feel relaxed. They are looking forward to the next class.

The Morale Committee of Kissimmee Youth Academy (KYA), a secure program for boys, ages 14 to 21, which is operated by Youth Opportunity Investments, LLC, recently hosted a staff appreciation breakfast and lunch. The members of the Morale Committee, which is comprised of staff from various departments within the program, prepared and treated first and third shift staff members to breakfast and they treated second shift staff to lunch. The KYA Morale Committee has been instrumental in fostering employee engagement activities that include employee recognition, event celebrations, and appreciation. The KYA Morale Committee has meetings monthly to discuss ways to continuously improve employee engagement and keep employee morale high.  The better staff feel about their jobs, the better they are at serving the youth in their care. Special thanks go to Employee Morale Chair Jasmine Gilchrist and Transitional Case Managers Dawn Buchanan and Consuelo Garvin, and the entire Morale Committee for hosting such a successful event.  

Douglas Edwards has played a vital role in the academic and personal growth of youth in the Orange County Public Schools System (OCPS). For more than 20 years, Douglas has served in various instructional positions within OCPS. The majority of those years has been spent in Alternative Education Programs, specifically in juvenile correctional programs.

When his career began, Douglas demonstrated outstanding performance as an instructor of Adult Basic Education, assisting students in earning their GEDs. While instructing traditional classroom students in middle and high school, he took advantage of opportunities to work with youth as a volunteer SAFE Counselor.  As a counselor, he quickly grasped an understanding of the behavior and needs of youth at all developmental levels with an emphasis on exploring their psychological, sociological, and physiological makeup.  He helped students develop effective skills to identify, cope with, and resolve conflicts in their personal situations.

Today as an instructor at the Orange Youth Academy, a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC, his instructional strategies have positively impacted the students by helping them realize their academic potentials.  Most recently, 54 of his reading students were honored by DJJ and the OCPS Alternative Education Administrators for winning the Read to ACHIEVE Reading Competition.

Alachua Academy, a non-secure, residential program for girls, ages 12 to 18, which is operated by Sequel TSI of Florida, LLC, recently recognized one of its residents for her high school graduation, hard work and dedication, and for earning employment with Dollar General where she will be working outside of the facility. 

While on transition status, youth are encouraged to complete job applications online and to create resumes in an effort to help them gain employment before or after their release from the program.  This is a first for Alachua Academy and is a true milestone for the program. The program hopes that there will be more of these success stories in the near future.

In partnership with Missions of Mercy, the medical staff at Escambia Boys Base (EBB), a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, which is operated by AMIkids, Inc., facilitated free dental cleanings for more than a dozen EBB residents. Afterward, the boys received dental supplies and a dental-care education course.

Additionally, five of the EBB residents who are enrolled in the carpentry class have been putting their vocational skills to work. Last week, they completed a four-week project to build and install benches in the EBB meeting room area. With the help of the Vocational Instructor Dave Durham, the students finished the benches and had them ready before completing the class.  The boys worked hard and left a positive mark on the program that will be there for years to come.