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Secretary's Message

November 14, 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

Remember FJJF when you Shop at Amazon 

The Florida Juvenile Justice Foundation (FJJF) has teamed up with Amazon Smile to provide a convenient and philanthropic way for you to support FJJF every time you shop, at no cost to you. When you shop through AmazonSmile at http://smile.amazon.com, you’ll find the exact same low prices, vast selection and convenient shopping experience as Amazon.com, with the added bonus that Amazon will donate 0.5% of the purchase price to FJJF.  Tens of millions of products on AmazonSmile are eligible for donations.

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

Staff Announcements and Kudos

Congratulations to the following employees from the Okaloosa Regional Detention Center who were honored during a recent staff appreciation breakfast at the facility:

Food Service Director Linda Smudzinski Food Service Director of the Year for the North Region,

Corporal Cortez Bell -Facility Training Coordinator of the Year for the North Region,

Maintenance Mechanic Alex Cochran -named the Maintenance Mechanic of the Year for the North Region,

Corporal Gary Wilson-named Employee of the Month for the month of October.

Congratulations to Corporal Harry Richburg from the Duval Regional Juvenile Detention Center who was recently named Employee of the Month for the North Region of Detention Services. Corporal Richburg has given 17 years of dedicated service to the Department and performs his duties in a diligent manner. He is an excellent role model for the youth as well as his fellow co-workers.

Deputy Secretary Timothy Niermann and Assistant Secretary for Residential Services Laura Moneyham recently attended the graduation of Billy Starke from FDLE’s Senior Leadership Program through the Florida Criminal Justice Executive Institute. Billy was one of over thirty criminal justice leaders from around the state selected to participate in this year-long program designed to develop leadership skills of Florida’s middle management criminal justice professionals. 

Some of the topics that were presented during the program focused on:  leadership in teams, organizations and the community, strategic thinking, planning, innovative problem solving, and leadership of change. This program is part of a renewed partnership between DJJ and FDLE and Billy is part of the 20th Senior Leadership program. It is also a part of DJJ’s commitment to continuous leadership development of its staff at all levels of the agency. Congratulations to Billy on this accomplishment! 

DJJ Staff Attend JDAI State Scale Model Meeting in New Jersey

DJJ team members and stakeholders from across Florida traveled to Princeton, New Jersey November 1-3 for a JDAI State Scale Model site meeting. Advancing the JDAI work to state scale is a strategic priority to ensure reforms are deeply rooted, not easily removed nor overturned. The development of a state level collaboration is a key component to addressing cross cutting issues supporting local collaboratives, making decisions on how to formalize the committee process, and much more.

Through structured presentations, facilitated discussion, and interactive conversations, the team was provided with an interesting and informative account of the “NJ story” as it relates to bringing JDAI to scale statewide. The team was also allowed to strategize on some of the strategies and lessons learned and were encouraged to develop commitments and next steps for moving to scale. This dynamic group will now begin the work of expanding JDAI efforts in Florida! 

Pictured above: Nathan Moon, Office of State Courts Administrator, Cheryl Massaro, State Advisory Group Member, Carla Greene, Florida Department of Education, Jo’Shonda Guerrier, Florida Department of Children & Families, Julie Pla, Research and Data Integrity, Chief Tony Jones, Gainesville Police Department, Lynn Powell, ASA 15th Judicial Circuit, Rob Mason, APD 4th Judicial Circuit, Paul Hatcher, Assistant Secretary of Probation & Community Intervention, Megan Picinic, Florida Network, Deputy Secretary Timothy Niermann, FDJJ, Minnie Bishop, Statewide JDAI Coordinator.

Detention Youth Participate in a Forum with Air Force Officers

Last week, the Okaloosa Regional Juvenile Detention Center welcomed volunteers from Eglin Air Force Base for a special after-school enrichment program. Eglin’s volunteer coordinator, Staff Sargent Ford, arranged for three lieutenant colonels from the base to speak to the youth in a panel forum. The youth asked questions and learned about things like overcoming adversity, teamwork, overcoming fear, and having hope. The youth were able to participate in the forum in a relaxed atmosphere, while getting exposed to some great leadership. 

From airmen to accolades, Juvenile Detention Officer II (JDO) Rachel Hunt from Okaloosa was recently nominated as the Celebrations Liaison for the facility as well as the JDO’s Count Panel. Recently, JDO Hunt came up with an idea to create an amazing board in the briefing area to highlight staff birthdays and anniversaries. This display of team unity has been an instant hit.

Youth from the Volusia Regional Juvenile Detention Center continue to create amazing artwork through the help of VSAFL. Last week, the girls from Volusia created papier-mâché collages at the request of Juvenile Circuit Judge Mary Jolley. Judge Jolley plans to hang the collages the girls made in her office at the courthouse.  

The Southwest Regional Juvenile Detention Center welcomed motivational and inspirational speaker Tarifa Callwood to speak to the youth at the facility. She shared her story on how she was a rebellious teenager and adult. It wasn’t until she realized she was her worst enemy and finally believed enough in herself to turn her life around.  She spoke about her struggles of running away from her parents, living on the streets, and not knowing at times where she would sleep or get her next meal. The boys and girls gave her a big round of applause before she left and are already asking for her to come back and share more of her story.

Pictured above (from left to right): Officer Tremayn Christopher, Tarifa Callwood and Officer Natasha Noel

Leon Regional Juvenile Detention Center Superintendent Conrad McCray along with Assistant Secretary for Prevention and Victim Services Alice Sims and Leon Chaplin Ernie Sims, Jr welcomed representatives from the Life Way Christian Bookstore in Tallahassee to the facility. The group graciously donated over $4,000 worth of leather back study bibles for not only the youth at Leon but the other seven North Region Detention Centers as well. In addition to the bibles, the bookstore donated shirts for the level 3 youth at Leon, so that they may have appropriate clothing when they leave the facility. 

Last week, the Pinellas Regional Juvenile Detention Center welcomed St. Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway, Circuit 6 Reform Specialist Adrienne Conwell, Reverend Irby, and members of the Pinellas County Public Defender’s Office to the facility to meet with youth who have been charged with grand theft auto. The intent of this meeting was to give local officials and community members insight into the reasons behind grand theft offenses in Pinellas County. In addition, meeting with these law enforcement and judicial partners gives the youth insight into the long-term consequences of their actions.  

The Duval Regional Juvenile Detention Center recently hosted a staff appreciation luncheon at the facility. The lunch was to show appreciation for all of the hard work the staff from Duval put in after Hurricane Irma hit back in September. The lunch was prepared by Captain Michael Philpot.

Pictured above: Corporal Derrick Christie (left) with Corporal Lisa Thigpen

Prevention Staff Holds Bridging the G.A.A.P. Conversation Between Youth and Law Enforcement

Delinquency Prevention Specialist Dionne Anderson conducted a Bridging the G.A.A.P. (Gaining Appreciation by Adjusting Perspectives) Conversation between youth and law enforcement in Kissimmee. The conversation was held in conjunction with the Osceola County Sheriff’s Department. The youth and deputies spoke about negative perceptions that social media and news media can have about youth and law enforcement, the roles each play in their communities and their schools, and how their attitudes and behaviors can determine how to approach each other.

After the G.A.A.P Conversation, the Osceola deputies and youth were given the opportunity to have one-on-one conversations while kayaking in a lake near the Sheriff’s Office. The youth and deputies enjoyed talking with each other while working together to get moving across the lake. Not only were perceptions changed but they came together as a team to accomplish the goal of safely getting to the other side of the lake. 

Delinquency Prevention Specialist Carmen Lundy recently attended an Open House at the Crestview Police Department (CPD). At the open house, residents visited the council chambers and the offices of council members and Mayor David Cadle to meet their elected officials. The event kicked off Florida City Government Week, organized by the Florida League of Cities.

Displayed items included materials that crime scene investigators use to collect evidence. Another display showed the police department’s community outreach and prevention brochures and drug identification. The final display was for the SWAT team. So far this year, the CPD has held many community events, including Youth Police Academy, Old Fashion Picnic, Lunch with the Law, Hero’s Week Demonstration, My Friendly Police with Safety Pup, and Neighbor Watch Meeting.  

Pictured above: CPD Sargent Ray Harp (left) and Carmen Lundy

Young ladies from the PACE Center for Girls attended a Hernando County Legislative Delegation meeting at the Hernando County Courthouse. Representatives from the PACE Center for Girls presented to the Hernando County Legislative Delegation comprised of Representative Ralph Massullo, Senator Wilton Simpson, and Representative Blaise Ingoglia.

The delegation was presented with an overview of the PACE program and information about the new center, which will be opening in Hernando County in January of 2018. Additionally, Destinee, a student at the PACE Center for Girls, shared a little about what the program means to her and expressed her gratitude for the support of the delegation.

Living Stones International(LSI), a DJJ “Invest in Children” grant recipient and Leon County civil citation provider, held their 10th annual Open House on October 26 in Tallahassee. LSI opened their facilities to the community to share programs regarding children, families, and parenting and to provide mentoring services.  At the open house, youth performed a skit, demonstrated their computer skills, and enjoyed food from the Rankin Taco Food Truck.  Also on hand were many games and fun activities.

LSI is a children and family outreach organization that hosts bonding visits between children and their incarcerated parents. LSI also offers an after school tutoring program and mentoring.

 Probationary Youth Obtain ID Cards and Staff Participate in Anti-Bullying Production

Three DJJ youth from the AMIkids Miami-Dade North facility recently obtained their Florida Identification Cards (ID) from the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. These ID cards have helped them to land their first jobs, working as event staff members at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami. The boys are excited to begin working at the stadium and to see their favorite football icons play. Congratulations to these young men on this important milestone as they take their first steps towards adulthood.  

In addition, Miami-Dade North welcomed Senior Global Responsibility Specialist Julissa McWashington from Starbucks to the facility for a tour. Ms. McWashington met with several of the youth there and was extremely grateful to speak with them. The following week, AMIkids attended the grand opening of the Starbucks CARES Community Store in Miami Gardens. The store will provide job readiness training to AMIkids through the Starbucks Retail of Excellence Training.

Current AMI student, Juan T, has always been one of the brightest students in the Wellness Mentoring Circle and is on a path towards greatness. Juan is an intelligent and charming young man that takes advantage of all the opportunities presented to him. The Mayor and the police chief of Miami Gardens attended the Grand Opening of the Starbucks Community Store as well and like a natural charismatic leader, Juan was confident and well-spoken when he met them. Juan impressed everyone with his public speaking skills when the spotlight was on him. We would like to thank Starbucks and South Florida CARES for their commitment to our youth.

Eckerd Connects Project Bridge ended the month of October with fun but meaningful fall festivities. Project Bridge youth and mentors in Circuit 13 painted pumpkins to donate to youth in foster care, and Project Bridge youth and staff in Circuit 9 painted pumpkins pink to donate to a local hospital for Breast Cancer Awareness. Youth that participated understood the impact of this fun project. 

Circuit 14 Chief Probation Officer Marcia Reightnour and Assistant Chief Probation Officer Fred Womack participated in the 3rd annual Bay County Youth Crime Prevention Summit, hosted by the LEAD Coalition of Bay County.

The goal of the summit is to build lasting relationships between police and the community. Members from the US Attorney’s Office as well as local, state and federal law enforcement agencies participated in break-out sessions with students from local area middle and high schools. 

Senior Juvenile Probation Officer (SJPO) Sonya Matthews and Juvenile Probation Officer (JPO) Patrice Smith participated in Red Ribbon Week activities at Renaissance Charter School in Orlando. SJPO Smith and JPO Matthews made a presentation that was focused on drug use among teenagers. This is the second year that DJJ has been invited to come to Renaissance to speak during Red Ribbon Week. Student Services Coordinator Ms. Parris sent an e-mail thanking our officers for speaking to the students. It reads:

Good afternoon,

The staff and students at Renaissance Charter School at Hunter's Creek would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the officers that took time to share with our students this morning. The sessions were informative and thought provoking for many of our students. We look forward to forming a partnership with the Department to continue to keep our students out of the system.

As we mentioned to Officer Matthews and Officer Smith, we at RCHC host monthly assemblies with our students to motivate and inspire them to be their best selves and we would love to have these ladies back to present to our students early (Jan/Feb) 2018.

Again, Thank you!

Probation staff from Circuit 6 participated in the EMBRACE Anti Bullying Production at John Hopkins Middle School in St. Petersburg. EMBRACE is a non-fiction drama performed by Pinellas County school youth and provided an understanding of the seriousness of bullying, the hurt and impact on youth, families and the community. In addition, the production showed various crucial points of bullying through narration, acting, clothing color coordination, theatrical presentation and fashion runway. The plot was centered on bullying incidents at school, peer pressure, the need for acceptance, community influences, and the effects of social media. 

I would like to thank the following DJJ staff members for their help with EMBRACE including: Delinquency Prevention Specialist Pat McGhee who spearheaded the event, Chief Probation Officer Melissa Fuller, Special Projects Coordinator Jill Gould, Juvenile Probation Officer Supervisors Marilyn Walker, Jared White, and Yvonne Ortiz, Juvenile Probation Officers Regina Booze-Bostick and Leia Thomas and Reform Specialist Adrienne Conwell

Circuit 18 Chief Probation Officer Denise Devlin and Reform Specialist Tracy Olson participated in a community food drop hosted by the Seminole County Child Abuse Task Force, the Christian Sharing Center and the Second Harvest Food Bank. Our DJJ team and probationary youth, who earned community service hours, assisted in registration, unloading crates, setting up distribution tables, and acted as personal shoppers for those in need. A resource fair was also on site and DJJ sponsored a table with information brochures and answered questions. It was a huge success with the food drop serving over 300 families!

Circuit 13 probation unit supervisors, including Juvenile Probation Officer Supervisors Dennis McKinney, Delores Richardson and Phillipa Robertson, recently held their annual joint meeting with probation staff at the Veterans Memorial Park and Museum in Tampa. During the meeting, Reform Specialist Sandra Pinkney presented updates on our reform initiatives and Assistant Chief Probation Officer Kelly Hammersley provided updates on probation.

Residential Facilities Get Decked Out for Halloween

Martin Girls Academy, a secure program for girls, ages 13 to 18, operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions has a long tradition of making holidays special for the youth they serve. In addition to a door decorating contest, trick or treating, and a Halloween carnival, the staff dress in costume to celebrate. This year, the Clinical Director Brian Berger (Snow White) and his team of the 7 Dwarves (clinical department) went all out to make the holiday fun. We applaud them for teaching the youth that having fun and stepping out of your comfort zone can be a positive experience.

On Halloween, all the youth at Duval Academy, a non-secure program for boys, ages 14 to 18, operated by Sequel TSI of Florida, participated in a Halloween party. Ms. Woolbright helped 6 of the youth perform a dance to Thriller. They did a great job and worked very hard to put on a good show! The youth then trick-or-treated through the offices at the facility. They had a great time and enjoyed eating their candy!