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Secretary's Message

October 25, 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

Staff Announcements and Kudos

Congratulations to Fiscal Assistant Maria Carroll and Maintenance Mechanic John Harper from the Volusia Regional Juvenile Detention Center who were recently recognized by the Office of Detention Services in the North Region. Carroll took home the Support Worker of the Year Award while Harper was recognized with the Statewide Safety Award of Distinction. 

Pictured above (from left to right): Captain William Bennis, Captain Andrea Akins, Maria Carroll, Fiscal Assistant, John Harper, Maintenance Mechanic and Major Paul Finn

Congratulations also go out to Juvenile Detention Officer Carl Smith from the Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center who received the Detention Officer of the Year Award for the Central Region. Officer Smith is a great example of professionalism and dedication to the youth he serves and pitches in wherever he needs to with no questions asked.

Probationary Youth Shines on the Football Field

Project Connect Youth JB in Circuit 2 has been a prime-time player in high school football action. He plays defense for his high school team and recorded 17 solo tackles with 4, count them, 4 fumble recoveries!  Transition Specialist Je’Meane Pinkney along with the youth’s Life Coach, Gregory Turner, were very helpful in gearing Youth JB up for this season providing him with arm and leg tights, hand towels and football gloves.  They are there to cheer him on as he dominates on the gridiron.  Project Connect is very proud of this youth and the progress he has made academically and athletically.    

Juvenile Probation Officer Supervisors Zemetria Anderson and Jillian Lewandowski from Circuit 7 partnered with One Voice for Volusia and their Executive Director Julie Barrow to donate multiple pairs of new Nike shoes to help youth in need in their local community. The group teamed up with Nike retail store manager and former DJJ employee Jennifer Tate to make this donation a reality. 

Pictured above (from left to right): Julie Barrow – Executive Director of One Voice for Volusia, JPOS Lewandowski, Jennifer Tate – Nike, and JPOS Anderson.

Circuit 4 Reform Specialist Donna Clayton recently attended a graduation ceremony at AMIkids of Jacksonville. Three youth were recognized during the ceremony including a DJJ youth who sadly passed away due to violence in the local community. Juvenile Circuit Judge Eric Roberson gave the graduation address and after the ceremony AMI planted a tree as a memorial to all the youth that have come through their doors and unfortunately lost their lives due to violence. 


Congratulations to AMIkids Miami Dade as well as their Board of Directors who were recently featured in the October edition of the South Florida League Guide. The article, which can be found here, highlights the work AMI is doing in both their north and south region facilities to turn around the lives of troubled youth. 

Eckerd’s Project Bridge program partnered with the Arcadia Housing Authority, the Manatee County Health Department and numerous mentors and donors to host a Fall Block Party for local youth and their families. Youth with Project Bridge volunteered and participated in specific duties for the event.  Over 150 hotdogs were provided, pumpkins were painted, and local youth had a wonderful time!  

Reform Specialist Michael Byrd and Secretary Specialist Tequila Lockwood from Circuit 2 participated in a hurricane relief event sponsored by the Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office and the North Florida Chapter of the National Organization of Black Enforcement Executives. The event donated cases of bottled water, cleaning supplies and clothing to over 400 families in greater Gadsden County. 

Pictured above: Reform Specialist Michael Byrd (left) with Sheriff Morris Young, Gadsden County.

Special Projects Coordinator Jill Gould and Reform Specialist Adrienne Conwell from Circuit 6 participated in the Pinellas Ex-Offender Re-Entry Coalition (PERC) showcase of services on October 16 at the Pinellas Technical College in St. Petersburg. The showcase is made up of an alliance of social and governmental agencies dedicated to facilitating the transition of ex-offenders back into the mainstream of society. DJJ staff spread the word by sharing information on services provided as well as disseminated family engagement brochures.

Assistant Chief Probation Officer Amy Stiles, Juvenile Probation Officer Supervisor Tricia Elliot, Juvenile Probation Officers Matthew Clark, Larry Spurlock and Clifford Maker and Reform Specialist Natalie Montgomery from Circuit 10 accompanied several probationary youths on a clean-up project at Christina Park in Lakeland. The clean-up was in partnership with the Polk County Parks and Recreation Department to clean up county parks after Hurricane Irma. The youth received valuable community service hours for their efforts and did a fantastic job.

Juvenile Probation Officers Maria Ortiz and Christina Banks as well as Reform Specialist Adrienne Conwell from Circuit 6 hosted a DJJ information table during the Pasco County National Night Out activities on October 18. National Night out is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make neighborhoods safer. DJJ disseminated a variety of family engagement brochures in addition to networking with other organizations and developing ways to collaborate.  

Detention Youth Learn About the Dangers of Drugs and Violence

The Pasco Regional Juvenile Detention Center is proud to have Keith Bell, Jr. from Baycare Behavioral Health teaching a class for our youth entitled “Too Good for Drugs,” (TGFD). TGFD has been developing and implementing unparalleled prevention education programs that teach kids they are too good for drugs and violence. These skill-building programs make a positive impact on the lives of students, teachers, parents, and community leaders nationwide. Mr. Bell meets with both the boys and girls at the facility and has a unique ability to relate to our youth.

In addition, the Pasco Detention Center welcomed volunteers from the local Seventh Day Adventists Church for a luncheon and program discussion entitled, “Let’s Talk About God” (LTAG). The LTAG group comes to the facility each Saturday to meet with our youth and speak with them about their relevant issues and their spiritual life. The group is led by Leonid Flaharty who will hold luncheons on a quarterly basis as well as his weekly meetings with the youth.

The Office of Detention Services in the Central Region has declared October to be Spirit Month. Each week, the team chooses a different theme to boost staff morale. On October 13, staff participated in sport teams and college day with staff each wearing their favorite school colors. 

Pictured above (from left to right): GOC II Tamela Leonard, OPM Monica Gray, SMA II Karla Edwards, OMC Jackie Vickery and GOC II Melody Chisholm. 

The Leon Regional Juvenile Detention Center recently hosted the North Region Detention Supervisors Focus Group. This meeting consisted of two juvenile detention officer supervisors from each facility in the north region. The group embarked on a tour of the Leon facility which was followed by a roundtable discussion to talk about pressing subjects for our detention supervisors. 

Pictured above: Supervisors:  Mattie Wright, Derrick Grice, Bill Kurts, Allison Stanton, Dorline Jordan, Shari Johnson, Micah Youmas, Charles Cooper, Paul Phelan, Erick Harper, Reshanda Rolston, Stacy Oliver, Sylvonia Parris, Patrick Sullivan, Brenda Johnson, Jean Hogan

Facilitators:  Dennis McClure, Paul Britten, Christi Stua, Kierstyn Cox

The Manatee Regional Juvenile Detention Center held a birthday party for one of the youth at the facility. The youth can be seen pictured here with Sargent Khalia Brantley and Corporal James Stewart.

Headquarters Food Services Liaison Sheila Gillum hosted a food service training session for north region food service employees at DJJ Headquarters in Tallahassee. The training focused on a variety of topics including kitchen cleanliness, operations, menus, production records, food ordering, commodity usage, and staff scheduling

Pictured above (clockwise from lower left): Audrey DeBorde, Erlinda Smudzinski, Sheryl Green, Kathleen Newton, Mary Small, Sheila Gillum, Lynwood Kornegay, Alfred Cole, Lissette Godfrey. 

Last week, girls from the Volusia Regional Juvenile Detention Center took part in their first art class of the fall, hosted by VSA Florida. VSA Florida (VSAFL) is a private not-for-profit organization that conducts art education programs in schools, Department of Juvenile Justice facilities, and community centers. 

The facility’s resident artist Ms. Rogers taught the girls the basic shapes and colors utilized in art.  The girls were then provided journals which they decorated with their new art skills.  They will have access to their journals in the mod and will take them home upon their release.

Juvenile Justice Officer Academy Graduation Ceremony

Congratulations to the newest juvenile justice detention officers (JDO) who graduated from the Florida Public Safety Institute on October 6th.  Thanks to Christina K. Daly, Secretary of the Department, for delivering the graduation address for the JDO graduation. Kudos to Learning Consultant Christina Ash and Senior Learning Consultant Duane Pace, for training the officers in these positions of critical responsibility. The graduates will work in the facilities listed next to their names.

First Row (Left to right):  Courtney Clark (St. Lucie), Preston Schofiled (Marion), Jimel Pierre-Louis (St. Louis), Arnaisa Howard (Leon), Sheneika Lowe (Bay), Terry Gartrell (Duval), Nacoyia Sproles (Leon)

Middle Row:  Roberto Silva (Duval), Jason Herb (Marion), Judy Tavae (Okaloosa), Joncarl Wagner(Okaloosa), Aaron Wynn (St. Lucie), Laytoria George (Leon), Tarik McBride (Leon)

Back Row: Demetrius Burkes (Leon), Naiteur Casimir (St. Lucie), David Bazylak (Okaloosa), Tiffany Taylor (Okaloosa), Janarvis Ash (Leon), Richard Smith (Okloosa), Patrick Milton (Escambia), Lamar Frazier (St. Lucie), Kenzy Pierre-Louis (St.Lucie)

Prevention Specialist Tours DJJ Funded Program

Delinquency Prevention Specialist Pat McGhee attended the Gulfside YMCA Adventure 3-TD= Talents Discovered class at the James P. Gills Trinity YMCA in New Port Richey. At-risk middle school students at the James P. Gills Trinity YMCA along with at-risk Gulfside Elementary YMCA students are scoring a “TD” (Talents Discovered) in the Character GPS Program funded by the DJJ Prevention “Invest in Youth” Grant.

Thanks to this DJJ grant funding, Character GPS has partnered once again with the YMCA as they work to help give these kids the opportunity to learn critical principles, values and tools to build positive habits to develop their talents to pursue their “dreams” and thus avoid the traps that many “distracted” youth fall into these days.

These students, using the Character GPS Methodology, can accelerate their maturity by learning to be leaders.  Instead of just trying to “fit in” with their peers, they learn how to demonstrate great character with an “internal compass” to stay on the path to model positive decision-making which leads them and their peers toward demonstrating productive behavior.

Character GPS, which uses a “Trauma-informed Care” approach,” helps youth overcome challenges they face in their lives by building strong self-esteem and a true confidence to persevere with a “Can-Do” attitude. 

Delinquency Prevention Specialist Dionne Anderson and Juvenile Probation Officer from Circuit 18 Julia Rogers attended the STEPS in the Right Direction Back to School shoe and book bag giveaway in Orlando. The event was hosted by the City of Orlando Sanctuary Church, and The Central Florida Urban League.

Area families in need of shoes and school supplies for their children were provided shoes donated from shoe companies like Nike and Adidas and book bags full of school supplies. Those who attended the event were given the opportunity to speak with the Orlando Police Department about the importance of safety when children return to school, as well as different community organization and resources in their area. The Office of Prevention Services provided information to the community about the many initiatives, and resources DJJ has to offer in their community.

Pictured above (left to right): Dionne Anderson and Julia Rogers. Also pictured: shoes and book bags to be given away to families in the community.

Residential Youth Attend a College Football Game and Art Walk

Residential Youth Attend a College Football Game and Art Walk

Eight youth from Jacksonville Youth Academy, a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, traveled to Deland, to enjoy the college football atmosphere at the Stetson University vs Brown University football showdown. The youth had the opportunity to cheer on Stetson University to their first victory of the season. The outing was enjoyable and encouraging as several residents became excited about the opportunity to attend college and play sports. Special Thanks to Case Manager Veronica G. Martin for providing both Jacksonville Youth Academy & Duval Youth Academy with tickets to the game.

In addition, the residents of Jacksonville Youth Academy attended the “Art Walk” in downtown Jacksonville as a part of their monthly incentive for positive participation in program activities. More than 60 Art Walk venues stretch across Downtown Jacksonville’s core which includes Hemming Plaza Park, galleries, museums, cultural and educational venues and restaurants. The event is held on the first Wednesday of the month and is a great way to meet fellow artists, buy and appreciate their work, and participate in the rapidly growing art scene in Jacksonville, Florida.

Resident R. M. obtained his High School diploma while at Escambia Boys Base (EBB), a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, operated by AMIkids. But he didn’t stop there! Youth R. M. also received his SERV Safe certification, OSHA certification, Microsoft certification, Carpentry certification, Hotel and Hospitality certification, Cash Register certification, a Kindle Fire, Microsoft tablet, tool belt and over 70 hours of community service! Congratulations on completing the program and taking advantage of all the opportunities here at EBB!

The accolades continue for EBB youth as one of their partners at the Kiwanis Club had a breakfast for EBB student of the month W. D. At the breakfast, W.D. was presented with a certificate of achievement and monetary reward.  W. D. has maintained his behavior and is working on obtaining his GED. W. D. is a leader amongst his peers and encourages new residents to progress in the program and take advantage of all the opportunities offered by EBB.

Also happening at EBB, Mr. Freeman and Mr. Shoemo taught a low ropes team building course for the youth at the facility. The Team Traverse is an element that requires team-work and trust. These are two important skills that the youth will need to use in the program as well as life. The boys did a great job working together!

Five youth from Duval Academy, a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, operated by Sequel TSI of Florida, attended the 16th Annual Florida Black Expo. The youth enjoyed serving local leaders and dignitaries. A wonderful time was had with all guests at the event. Great job young men!

It’s always wonderful to share stories of former youth and have the opportunity to see how far they have come. Kevin Langley successfully completed the program at Cypress Creek, a secure program for boys, ages 15 to 21, operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, LLC, 10 years ago. Recently, Kevin returned to donate dress shirts for youth who will also soon complete the program. Thank you Kevin for giving back to other young men at the program!

Students at RAM-C Meet a Sheep in Artist’s Clothing

DJJ students at the RAM-C residential program took part in their first art class, hosted by VSAFL. Resident artist Alice Cappa kicked off her first week at RAM-C with a special surprise. Ms. Cappa is a fiber artist who creates art with sheep’s wool. To introduce herself to the boys, she brought her pet sheep Ivy and a spinning wheel to show the boys her craft. All the participants thought that this was a fun and cool experience. The VSA art class will run each Tuesday through the month of December and Cappa plans to help the young men create a mural to help brighten up the facility. 

We are pleased to share these additional photos from our recent Juvenile Justice Teacher of the Year Award ceremony. DJJ partnered with the Florida Department of Education to select the finalists for the Juvenile Justice Teacher of the Year Award out of many juvenile justice educators throughout the state of Florida. Caleb Bates was the winner of the Teacher of the Year Award and was honored along with finalists, Charli Wutzler and Kelli Goff. Each finalist receives a medal and monetary award from the Florida Association of Alternative School Education.