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

Secretary's Message

March 6, 2018

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

DJJ Volunteers with Farm Share in Tallahassee

On February 25, many of our DJJ headquarters staff teamed up with me, State Representative Ramon Alexander and Living Stones International to host a Farm Share event at Oak Ridge Elementary School in Tallahassee. Our DJJ staff helped comprise the nearly 50 volunteers who came out to help, along with seven civil citation youth and eight teachers from Oak Ridge Elementary.

The Farm Share event was a tremendous success with more than 18,000 pounds of food and water distributed to nearly 1000 people in the local community. Thank you to everyone that came out to help with this event!

Statewide Probation Advisory Team Meets in Tallahassee

Last week, Deputy Secretary Tim Niermann and I were pleased to welcome the new 2018 Statewide Probation Advisory Team (PAT) to DJJ headquarters.

The Probation Advisory Team (PAT) provides a forum for field staff to communicate with upper management about issues they feel need to be addressed and a process to communicate those issues. The PAT also provides input on policy decisions and ideas to enhance the productivity of the Department, as well as system improvements. Each circuit has an established PAT with members serving on regional teams and the statewide team.   

Staff Announcements and Kudos

Please join me in congratulating Wanda Jackson on her selection as the Statewide Reform Coordinator effective March 2.  Wanda has dedicated more than 30 years of her life to state government and most recently served as a government analyst in the Northwest Region Probation Office. Prior to serving as a government analyst, she served as the chief probation officer for Circuit 14 for more than five years. She has also worked in the Office of Residential Services and in the Office of Prevention and Victim Services.  In 2010, Ms. Jackson completed the Certified Public Manager program offered through the Florida Center for Public Management at Florida Statement University and has served on several statewide projects, including the Evidence Based Practices in Community Supervision (EPICS) implementation team. 

Congratulations to Central Region Detention Employee Jackie Vickery for her fifteen years of dedicated service to the state of Florida and to our agency. Jackie was presented with her 15-year pin from Programming Chief Monica Gray.

Congratulations to John Lins (left) and Mohana Paruchuri (right) for being recognized as the Information Technology (IT) Employees of the Month for January 2018.  Each month, IT recognizes one employee from Headquarters and one from the field using a peer nomination process. Being nominated by their peers speaks volumes to their work ethic and dedication to this agency.


Circuit 5 Juvenile Probation Officer Supervisor Meghan Thrasher was recently presented with a certificate of appreciation from Chief Probation Officer Randy Reynolds for her persistent efforts in collecting the initial data for the Crossover Youth Practice Model (CYPM). Meghan has worked tirelessly over the last fifteen months with the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform, the Department of Children and Families (DCF) and Kids Central and is currently the only individual in the state of Florida to accomplish this goal. She was instrumental in organizing, restructuring, and developing initial protocols for gathering the information needed to complete this extensive project. The data collected will be analyzed and used to build upon the tools our agency uses to serve crossover youth, or youth who are dually served by both DJJ and DCF. I would like to thank Meghan for her extraordinary efforts and dedication in completing this great task which will ultimately help us better serve our youth and families.

Pictured above (from left to right): CPO Randy Reynolds, Meghan Thrasher, JPO Supervisor & ACPO Lori Bright.

Congratulations to Corporal Tameka Edwards from the Alachua Regional Juvenile Detention Center (RJDC) who was named the facility’s January Employee of the Month. Corporal Edwards is a self-starter and a strong mod leader who has been a positive role model to the youth and staff at Alachua RJDC. Her performance and attendance with DJJ is worthy of recognition from the Department and youth that she is committed to serve.

Pictured above (from left to right): Sargent Rolston Corporal Edwards and ADS Edmond.

Congratulations to Juvenile Detention Officer I Delphanie Williams from the Volusia Regional Juvenile Detention Center who was selected as the Employee of the Month for the North Region of Detention Services for the month of January.

Pictured above (from left to right): Captain Andrea Akins, JDOI Delphanie Williams, Major Paul Finn.

Congratulations to Juvenile Detention Officer Supervisor (JDOS) Eric Harper form the Duval Regional Juvenile Detention Center who earned Employee of the Month honors for the month of February. JDOS Harper can be seen in the photo to the right with Superintendent Mark Refour.

Detention Center’s Garden Wins Blue Ribbon at Local Fair

The Southwest Regional Juvenile Detention Center (RJDC) showcased their garden activities during the Southwest Florida & Lee County Fair. Southwest RJDC partnered with Lee County Schools, G4S and the PACE Center for Girls of Lee County to set up a special learning booth with an agriculture theme. Thanks to their efforts they took home the first-place blue ribbon!

The garden at Southwest RJDC is used in conjunction with the behavior management system for the youth that show positive behaviors. It is also used to help the youth successfully complete their community service hours and is used as a trauma garden for youth that need some space to clear their heads and work in the dirt. 


Several weeks ago, I shared with you that the Miami-Dade Regional Juvenile Detention Center (RJDC) welcomed a delegation from the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center (JTDC) in Chicago for an in-depth tour. Following that meeting, Detention South Region Director Kevin Housel from Miami Dade received a letter of gratitude from Superintendent Leonard Dixon from the Cook County JTDC (shown left). 

The Hillsborough Regional Juvenile Detention Center (RJDC) hosted a program honoring African-American history in accordance with Black History Month. The program was hosted by the Hillsborough County school board staff and featured a soulful celebration of African American culture, history, music and food. Following the program, youth who were doing well in school were allowed to partake in a meal which they thoroughly enjoyed.


Juvenile Justice Officer Academy Graduation Ceremony

Congratulations to the newest juvenile justice detention and probation officers who graduated from the Florida Public Safety Institute on February 23rd.  Thanks to Secretary Daly for being our guest speaker and Chief of Staff Fred Schuknecht for being our closing speaker. Kudos to Learning Consultant, Christina Ash and Senior Learning Consultant, Duane Pace, for training the officers in these positions of critical responsibility.

Juvenile Detention Officer Class

First Row: M. O’Neal (Leon), M. Bolling JR (Escambia), T. Little (Okaloosa), A. Rogers (Okaloosa), D. Hill (Bay), W. Harris (Leon), C. Moyer (Bay)

2nd Row:  G. Bruton (Leon), D. Smith (Leon), J. Lambert (Leon), R. Maxwell (Okaloosa), T. Reed (Escambia), S. Stallworth (Escambia), D. Gadhia (Bay) , E. Jenkins (Escambia), J. Pride (Bay)

3rd Row: M. Goodluck (Leon), P. Beauford (Escambia), K. Alderman (Leon), W. Davison (Escambia), G. Camarena-Atencio (Bay), L. Mitchell (Bay), A. Figueroa (St. Lucie), A. Luebbehusen (Bay)

Juvenile Probation Officer Class

Front Row L-R: Delgado, Mack, Booze-Bostick, Desylvia

2nd Row L-R: Kresberg, Jean-Baptiste, Gedeon, Marc, Money, Francis, Pinzon, Rodgers

3rd Row L-R: Thompson, White, Fisher, Browne, Lopez, Darville

4th Row L-R: Johnson, Henry, Robideau, Clark, Bepko, Teal, Cansler

The Juvenile Probation Officer Academy Class 83 also spent time volunteering with the youth from the Leon Regional Juvenile Detention Center on February 20. The female officers from Class 83 chose to do a vision board project with the girls at Leon; allowing them to write their current goals as well as the goals they have for themselves in the future. The male officers from Class 83 held a group discussion with the boys from Leon regarding life skills and future goals. They talked to the young men about how they felt being in the juvenile system and about their life outside of the detention center. 

Prevention Assistant Secretary Speaks to FSU Student Organization and Faith Community Network Hosts Statewide Leadership Training

Assistant Secretary for Prevention and Victim Services Alice Sims spoke to student members of the Florida State University (FSU) American Criminal Justice Association Lambda Alpha Epsilon chapter. Assistant Secretary Sims provided a briefing on the Office of Prevention and Victim Services; discussed community partnerships; community engagement & outreach; the juvenile justice circuit advisory boards; Faith Community Network & Chaplaincy Services, and the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention State Advisory Group.

“While continuing to support innovative processes to reach children before they get involved with the juvenile justice system and maintaining our commitment to address the overrepresentation of minority youth, this year, we will also be focusing on supporting families,” Assistant Secretary Sims said. “We understand that healthy families produce healthy kids.”

Lambda Alpha Epsilon’s central focus is on academic and professional development for all students studying, or interested in, criminal justice and criminology. They have established a national reputation and are currently the second largest chapter in the nation. Many of their members have gone on to pursue careers with law enforcement agencies, insurance collectors, attorneys, forensic psychologists, and other agencies like the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, Department of Homeland Security, and the Diplomatic Security Service.

The newly opened PACE Center for Girls of Hernando County recently held their grand opening celebration. Staff welcomed six girls during the first week of classes and will serve 50 girls at full capacity.  The girls are excited about their future opportunities and will join more than 3,000 girls statewide who are served by the PACE Center for Girls each year. 

The Hernando County School District has been a receptive and supportive partner in launching PACE Hernando. The local community also embraced their opening, including Habitat for Humanity who donated furniture and other much needed items.  The PACE Center for Girls is eager to begin serving girls in Hernando County and becomes the 20th center in Florida.  

Later in January, Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis visited PACE Hernando. During his tour, the Sheriff visited each classroom and greeted girls in the program.  PACE appreciates the support of local law enforcement and looks forward to a positive relationship.


Faith Community Network and Volunteer Services Consultant Andy Hindman led a statewide leadership team training and planning meeting for the Faith Community Network at the Florida Hotel and Conference Center in Orlando. The purpose of this training was to ensure the Faith Network leadership understands the vision, mission, and structure of the Faith Community Network, to roll out the “Pathway to Restoring Hope” plan and develop implementation priorities for each circuit to increase communication and collaboration. Forty-five faith leaders and DJJ staff were in attendance.

Probation Staff Participate in Awareness Walk and Career Day Event

The Circuit 17 probation team recently participated in the 7th annual 33311 walk at Joseph C Carter Park in Fort Lauderdale. The walk was hosted this year by Mt. Bethel Human Services Corporation, Inc. and Broward AWARE!, which is a campaign that aims to support organizations who work to help prevent child abuse and heal those who have been victimized.

DJJ staff participated in the walk to help raise awareness to several teen issues including human trafficking, truancy and fitness. The two-mile walk also featured art exhibits, presentations and performance art.

Pictured above (from left to right): RS Monica Ardila, JPOS Troy McGee, CPO Cassandra Evans (seated), AAII Vanessa Mcleod, JDAI Monitor Alfred Mendivil, JPO Johande Serrano, and Prevention Specialist Marie Boswell

The Circuit 17 probation team also participated in a Take Your Child to Work Day event on February 2, which was sponsored by Juvenile Probation Officer Supervisor Troy McGee and Juvenile Probation Officer Gabriel Serrano. The event began with the children taking part in an interactive daily briefing which was followed by a visit to the Broward County Courthouse where they had the chance to observe Judge Carlos Rebollo’s courtroom. They group also visited the juvenile assessment center to learn about the intake and screening process.

I’d like to thank the following juvenile probation officers who took an active role in this event: Dwight Banks, Marcus Brimage, Thomas Bruns, Hayley Campbell, Dorothy Denizard, Juhli-Ann Francis, Monique Russell and Joelle Patterson

Life Coach Brandon Holsey mentors youth in Circuit 5 through Project Connect, the probation transition services provider.  Brandon is a natural when it comes to mentoring youth and is great with the youth we serve. His supervising Transition Specialist Stacy Baker, who met Brandon at church, recently shared that the youth in Project Connect are helping Brandon continue his journey of success as well.  Brandon shared that he could have been a Project Connect client himself 10 years ago and that the youth he mentors inspire him each day to become a better person in his own life.  Stacy has been encouraging him to continue his education to capitalize on his natural talents. Brandon recently went to his local CareerSource Center and is going to start classes soon in criminal justice with the intention of working toward a career in the juvenile justice field. This is truly a story of how helping youth through mentoring has inspired a mentor to pursue his passion and natural talents full time.  We wish Brandon well and are greatly appreciative of the wonderful work he does with our youth!     

The Levy County Prevention Coalition held their quarterly meeting in Williston at the Williston Elementary School on February 16.  The coalition discussed providing school supplies and anti-drug education materials to Levy County students returning to school each year, hosting events focused on engaging in sports and positive recreation without the use of alcohol and drugs, partnering with LSF Health Systems to bring free training in schools to understand addiction and substance abuse, and launching a mentoring program with youth to participate in numerous events. 

In addition, local partners spoke briefly about their part in the coalition.  Project Connect, DJJ’s North Region Transition Services provider, presented their services offered to youth referred by the Department to include educational placement and support services, vocational placement and support services, mentoring, family engagement, pro-social engagement, transportation planning and permanency planning.  Other partners of the coalition in attendance included CDS Family and Behavioral Services, Unity Family Community Center, School Board of Levy County, Levy County Sheriff's Office, Williston Police Department, and Meridian Behavioral Healthcare.

Youth AR in Circuit 4 recently earned a computer donation through Project Connect’s HP Computers in Transition program for his hard work and demonstrated success in the transition program.  Youth AR lived with his father in a car mechanic shop during the past hurricane season and, despite many trials that his living condition and the weather presented, the youth managed to persevere, demonstrating remarkable resilience.  Thanks to a job his father got working as a part-time mechanic, the father and son could move into a motel. Despite the upgrade in living conditions, the youth was declared homeless. Project Connect has been able to provide full transition services despite the former and present obstacles and the youth has been more than compliant.  He has been very successful in meeting the goals outlined on his individualized service plan.  He is well on his way to a GED and plans on using the donated computer to complete his education and search for employment.  We wish Youth AR continued success and endurance as he continues through his service plan and begins the permanency phase of Project Connect service. 

Circuit 3 Reform Specialist Michelle Galloway recently participated in a career day event at the River Oak Technical College in Live Oak. Students and families took advantage of the career day by taking guided tours of the campus and learning about all of the programs River Oak has to offer. Michelle was one of 50 vendors who were on hand for this event and handed out DJJ brochures and answered questions pertaining to our Roadmap to System Excellence. Over 500 students and parents attended this very informative event.

Juvenile Probation Officer Marilyn Walker, Prevention Specialist Pat McGhee and Reform Specialist Adrienne Conwell participated in the 5th annual FOCUS (Family Oriented Concept Unified to Serve) Symposium on February 22 at the Suncoast Cathedral in St. Petersburg.

The symposium featured many community service providers who set up resource tables at the event. The highlight of the symposium featured a youth success story from a child involved with our agency. The youth received a certificate for his outstanding achievement as a nominee for the DJJ youth ambassador program.

Senior Juvenile Probation Officer Tonya Emsweller and Juvenile Probation Officer Ofiela Dennis from Circuit 13 attended the Spring of Tampa Bay’s 5th annual teen summit entitled “All In to End Dating Violence.” The Spring of Tampa Bay is the Florida Department of Children and Families certified domestic violence center for Hillsborough County.  They not only serve adult survivors of domestic violence but teens as well.  Highlights of the teen summit included breakout sessions featuring discussions about healthy boundaries, self-respect, safety with technology, and survivor experiences.  Florida is one of the few states to mandate teen dating violence education in the school system.

Pictured above: JPO Ofiela Dennis (left) and SJPO Tonya Emsweller

Senior Juvenile Probation Officer Tonya Emsweller and JPO Celia Kalis from Circuit 13 attended the “Commemorating Black History Month 35th Anniversary of the George Edgecomb” on February 25 at the Western Michigan Cooley Law School in Hillsborough County. George Edgecomb was the first African-American solicitor, state attorney and the first African-American county judge in Hillsborough County. This event also honored other African-American judges from the Florida Supreme Court, United States Court of Appeals 11th Circuit, United States District Court, Second District, Sixth Judicial Circuit, and the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit.  Keynote speakers included Tampa Poet Laureate James Tokely and the Honorable E. J. Salcines.  

Pictured above: Celia Kalis (left) and Tonya Emsweller.

I am pleased to share the below letter that was sent to the Circuit 4 probation team in Clay County from a parent regarding Clay County Youth Alternative (SWEAT) Program. The SWEAT program is funded through our agency and provides supervised community service opportunities to youth on probation and conditional release. This is a great example of how DJJ is making an impact on the lives of youth.  The letter reads:

To Whom It May Concern:

Hello!  I'm a single mother with a child that has fallen into the system.  He was given the opportunity to do SWEAT days/hours instead of going to detention.  He wasn't happy with the choices but he realized this was his consequences.  After his first day, I of course, asked him how it was...he HATED it!  He said that he felt like a real prisoner because he was wearing the jumpsuit and cleaning up on the side of the road.  It then became embarrassing when he started to get honks and people yelling his name as they drove by.  With him hating it, I feel it has helped. I also feel with the approval of him doing the SWEAT days/hours to cover his court fees it has put MORE responsibility on him and his choices and not as much financial burden on myself.

My son and I have taken full advantage of all the help that has been offered to us.  My son, doesn't like going to the tutor 3 times a week but it DEFINITELY shows in his grades. It is one of the 2 A's my son currently has.  Mr. Jack has done a stupendous job.

My son’s mentor is an extremely nice man.  Coach Davis doesn't tell me what they talk about unless he thinks it's concerning.  Thankfully I haven't had one of those talks with the Coach.  It seems like my son enjoys his time with his mentor because on more than one occasion he has walked into the house with a smile on his face.

I really appreciate what all this program has done for my son.  Please keep up the good work with great people.

DJJ Team Tours Residential Facility and Youth Learn CPR and First Aid

Earlier this month, DJJ Deputy Secretary Tim Niermann, Residential Services Assistant Secretary Laura Moneyham and Northeast (NE) Regional Director Billy Starke visited Duval Academy, a non-secure for boys, ages 14 to 18, operated by Sequel TSI of Florida. They were given a tour of the facility lead by one of the youth and met the TAILS program youth and dogs. The youth showed some of the tricks the dogs have learned, shared about the program, and shared some of the things they have learned about themselves while handling the dogs.

Billy Starke, NE Regional Director for Residential Services and NE Commitment Chief Virgil Wright met with the 4th Judicial Circuit Chief Assistant State Attorney L.E. Hutton and Juvenile Division Director Laura Lambert. The meeting provided the opportunity to meet one another and engage in conversation on how the agencies can work more closely together in support of community safety and providing services to youth in the juvenile system. The Residential team also offered the State Attorney team the opportunity to tour residential programs in the Northeast to assist in becoming more familiar with the facilities, operations and services provided to youth in custody. The team is looking forward to developing positive relationships to provide for safe communities.

Pictured above (from left to right): Billy Starke, Laura Lambert, L.E. Hutton and Virgil Wright. 

JoAnn Bridges Academy (JBA), a non-secure program for girls, ages 12 to 18, operated by Rite of Passage, planned a Black History Celebration for the students, staff, and families. The event was held during visitation hours, which are every Sunday 2pm-5pm. JoAnn Bridges Academy offered parents/guardians an opportunity to become acquainted with the program staff, program rules, and program requirements.

There are many goals the program attempts to meet. One of the top goals is reunification. The program assists each family in a continuous process of building a positive and healthy relationship with their daughter. One of the ways JBA assists families is a free ride to and from the facility. JBA offers this opportunity at least quarterly to families in different locations. There was a total of eleven family members chauffeured to the facility for the Black History Celebration. Before the event began, one of the staff members offered a personal tour of the local area to view the monument and home of singer Ray Charles, who grew up in Greenville.

There was a total of eight families that attended the event, which was a success. Students presented songs, dances, and poems. After the event, a luncheon was served to the families, students, and guests.

The staff of JBA look forward to educating the students on many different skills to assist in their transition to become a better law-abiding citizen. JBA wants to continue to support the students and their families by finding many ways to reunify relationships in a positive manner.

Earlier this month, 20 youth from Orange Youth Academy and Orlando Intensive Academy, both are non-secure programs for boys, operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, had the opportunity to participate in a pizza party at the facility for doing all positive things while being in the programs. These positives included good behavior on and off the dorm, during school and also maintaining passing grades.

At Central Paco Girls Academy, a non-secure program for girls, ages 13 to 18, operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, Recreational Therapist A. Vazquez is now facilitating CPR and first aid classes for youth in transition to add to their skill set. This past weekend six girls successfully completed this six-hour course and are now certified in CPR and basic first aid.

The youth at Central Pasco Girls Academy, who are eligible for community outings, fundraised the past two weekends with a bake sale and car wash in efforts to raise money to attend the Pasco County Fair.

The girls exceeded their goal and raised over $400 thanks to the dedicated mentors, staff, neighbors, and youths’ families! Thank you everyone for all the continued support.