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Secretary's Message

September 17, 2018

Department of Juvenile Justice’s Weekly Letter

We have now approached the peak of hurricane season, which is expected to run to late October. While the Carolinas are dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, the tropics remain very active and we are still keeping an eye on any potential storms. Although hurricane season is in full swing, there is still time left for Floridians to prepare. I want to encourage each of you to visit FloridaDisaster.org today to get a plan and be prepared. You can create a family, business, or special needs plan that will help you be ready in the event of a storm. While we always hope for the best, we need to be prepared for the worst, so I encourage you to create a plan or review yours to help you stay safe for the rest of this hurricane season.


Interim Secretary Timothy Niermann

Staff Announcements and Kudos

Congratulations to Corporal Howard Ivey from the Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center (ORJDC) who was named ORJDC Employee of the Month for August. Corporal Ivey demonstrates his dedication daily to both his coworkers and the youth we serve.

Pictured above: Major Adrian Mathena (left) and Corporal Howard Ivey

Congratulations to Captain Reginald Allen from the Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center who was named the Central Region’s Support Staff Employee of the Month for August. Captain Allen works tirelessly to improve both the physical conditions at Orange RJDC and to support the supervisors. He is also doing a wonderful job supervising the food service program through a period of transition.

Pictured above: Captain Reginald Allen (right) and Major Adrian Mathena 

Congratulations to GOC II Joe Graham from the Office of Detention Services at DJJ Headquarters for being honored with the Going the Extra Mile Award by Assistant Secretary Dixie Fosler. Joe received this honor for always being willing and able to assist detention facilities across the state. Thank you Joe for your hard work and dedication. 

Congratulations to Food Service Director Barbara Wilson from the St. Lucie Regional Juvenile Detention Center (RJDC) for being recognized as the Statewide Food Service Director of the Year. Director Wilson is a six-year veteran with DJJ and St. Lucie RJDC is honored to have her as a part of the team.

Congratulations go to Captain John Johnson from the St. Lucie RJDC who was recently named the Statewide Assistant Detention Superintendent of the Year. Captain Johnson is a 29-year veteran of DJJ who dedicates himself to providing the best care possible for the youth at the facility.

Congratulations to Field Training Coordinator Eric Buff, also from the St. Lucie RJDC, who was recently recognized as the Statewide Field Training Coordinator of the Year. Officer Buff goes above and beyond to provide thorough, consistent and reliable training to the officers.

Congratulations to Sargent Eric Harper from the Duval Regional Juvenile Detention Center who was recently recognized as the Juvenile Detention Officer Supervisor of the Year for the North Region Office of Detention Services.

Pictured above (from left to right): Captain Michael Philpot, Supervisor Eric Harper and Major Mark Refour

Congratulations to Food Services Director Lynwood Kornegay from the Duval Regional Juvenile Detention Center who was named the Food Service Director of the Year for the North Region Office of Detention Services.

Pictured above (from left to right): Captain Philpot, FSD Lynwood Kornegay and Major Refour

Congratulations to Juvenile Detention Officer (JDO) II Wanda Sichone from the Duval Regional Juvenile Detention Center who was recognized as the Employee of the Month for August by the North Region Office of Detention Services. JDO Sichone is pictured left with Duval Superintendent Mark Refour.

Congratulations to Circuit 20 Juvenile Probation Officer (JPO) Stephanie Wise who was recognized as the circuit’s Employee of the Quarter for the third quarter of 2018. JPO Wise has been working out of the Cape Coral Probation Office in Unit 303 but has also stepped in to fill shifts at the Lee County Juvenile Assessment Center. JPO Wise has proven to be a real team player and an asset to the circuit as she continues to demonstrate a great deal of dependability, reliability, great customer service, and patience.

The Circuit 20 Probation Office recently recognized Juvenile Probation Officer Supervisor (JPOS) Betsy Santiago for her dedication and support for those under her charge. JPOS Santiago was described by her staff as always going “above and beyond when it comes to supporting our team” and that she “never tires in her willingness to help wherever she is needed.” JPOS Santiago began her career at DJJ as a senior clerk upon graduation from college and has served in several capacities. However, it has been her work as a supervisor which has garnered the most respect and admiration from her fellow co-workers.

DJJ Probationary Youth Participate in Marine Education

Four DJJ youth from AMIkids Pinellas were the first to take part in a brand new marine education experiential learning experience. It’s called the Tampa Bay Fishing Experience and its designed to provide participants with hands-on experience about the species of fish in the bay. Once completed, each of the youth were given a fishing pole and reel that they can use any time on their own. The objective of gifting them with their first rod and reel is to provide them with fun, affordable outdoor activities to keep them out of trouble.

Eleven DJJ youth from the AMIkids program in Jacksonville are experiencing scuba diving for the first time through the AMIkids Marine Education program. Experiential learning helps youth who participate to form a stronger bond with their teachers, therapists and staff members. The eleven youth were given the scuba lessons as an incentive for achieving their academic and behavioral goals.

DJJ youth in the carpentry class at the AMIkids Miami North program have been busy working on a high-top table that will be used outside of the AMIkids food truck.

The carpentry class meets every Wednesday and Thursday and the teachers inspire the students to stay on the right track. The carpentry class encourages these students to never give up on their dreams and more importantly, that it’s ok to make mistakes.

Statewide Reform Coordinator Wanda Jackson and SMA II Sonny Peacock from the Office of Probation and Community Intervention, and SMA II Ashley Schwab from the Office of Residential Services attended the 2018 Florida Dependency Summit where they presented a workshop entitled “DJJ 101.” The group provided an overview of the Department’s responsibilities and services connecting to the mission and vision that drives our work. The workshop was attended by numerous judiciary members and providers, as well as DJJ and DCF staff from around the state.

Circuit 2 Reform Specialist Michael Byrd, Director of Human Trafficking Katherine Gomez and Human Trafficking Coordinator Elena Simonsen attended the 2018 Missing Children’s Day Ceremony at the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee. Awards were presented to various law enforcement agencies who help combat child abductions and human trafficking. Parents and loved ones gathered together for the ceremony to honor and remember their missing family members. This year's ceremony marked the 20th Annual Florida Missing Children’s Day which first began in remembrance of Jimmy Ryce, who was kidnapped and murdered in 1995.

Pictured above (from left to right): Michael Byrd, Elena Simonsen and Katherine Gomez. 

DJJ Background Screening Unit Hosts Spirit Week

DJJ’s Background Screening Unit (BSU) recently held its very own spirit week. The event was five days of wearing coordinated clothing and other activities in an effort to boost morale and share team comradery. The team spent the week promoting fun, cool and creative ways to show everyone that they can have fun while doing a job

that they love.

Pictured above (from left to right): Thomas Pena, Erika Ross, Sharon Washington-Jackson, Yazmin Burns, Sara Keys, Lisa Alexander, Michele Bell,


Prevention Staff Serves as Guest Speaker at the Strong Youth Strong Communities Event

Delinquency Prevention Specialist Carmen Lundy, Assistant Chief Probation Officer Kayshala Patterson, Juvenile Probation Officer Supervisor Janet Maconi, and Juvenile Probation Officers Jakievia Broughton and Jessica Madril attended the National Night Out event in the Lexington Terrace Park neighborhood in Pensacola.

National Night Out is a community building campaign which promotes police community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make local neighborhoods safer and more caring places to live. Our DJJ staff members handed out backpacks, school supplies and shoes, which were donated by the Children’s Home Society.

Pictured above (from left to right): Jakievia Broughton & Jessica Madril, JPOs; Carmen Lundy, Prevention Specialist; Kayshala Patterson, ACPO; & Janet Maconi, JPO Supervisor. 

Assistant Secretary for Prevention and Victim Services Alice Sims, Chief of Programs and Policy Marcus Smith, and former DJJ Chief of Staff Fred Schuknecht attended the Florida Council on Crime and Delinquency’s 89th annual Criminal Justice Training Institute in Boca Raton.

Emphasizing the theme, “Piece by Piece We Can Make A Difference,” FCCD members worked tirelessly to bring awareness to individuals living with autism. Attendees had an opportunity to participate in fundraising events such as golf and pool tournaments, a fun run/walk, and silent auctions, with all the proceeds benefiting the Dan Marino Foundation. The training institute kicked off with the FCCD’s quarterly board meeting and the opening session. During the training institute, attendees heard from dynamic speakers and participated in educational workshops from expert facilitators on best practices and strategies in the field of criminal justice, juvenile justice, and professional development. Assistant Secretary Sims was also elected as the FCCD Secretary for the 2018-19 term.

Pictured above (from left to right): Marcus Smith, Chief of Programs and Policy; Yvonne Woodard, Operations and Training Director; Alice Sims, Assistant Secretary; Racquel Piper, Federal Programs Manager; Sandra Ferguson, Delinquency Prevention Specialists; Fred Schuknecht, Former Chief of Staff; Brent Musgrove, Budget Administrator

Delinquency Prevention Specialist Willie Smith, III participated in the Strong Youth Strong Communities (SYSC) Community Stakeholders’ Dinner at the Ritz Theatre in Jacksonville. The dinner was sponsored by Centene Corporation and hosted by the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Jacksonville Urban League.

Specialist Smith addressed the audience at the dinner, which was comprised of local officials, law enforcement officers, and community stakeholders. His message related to the work of the Office of Prevention and Victim Services “Celebrating Families” and Prevention’s initiative of hosting Bridging the G.A.A.P Discussions statewide. Additionally, he briefly spoke of how to become a volunteer with the Department. 

Pictured above (from left to right): Pro Football Hall of Fame Member Anthony Munoz, Willie Smith and Pro Football Hall of Fame Member Aneas Pictured above: Pineview Assistant Principal Oronde McKhan (left) and Major Conrad McCray

Detention Staff Donate to Local Schools and Youth Are Honored as Students of the Week

Staff members from the Leon Regional Juvenile Detention Center recently donated school supplies to Pineview Elementary School and Oak Ridge Elementary School in Tallahassee. Both schools are Title I schools, where funds are aimed to bridge the gap between low-income students and other students. Pineview and Oak Ridge were extremely appreciative of the donations and look forward to a continued partnership within the community.

Pictured above: Pineview Assistant Principal Oronde McKhan (left) and Major Conrad McCray

The Pinellas Regional Juvenile Detention Center recently recognized their students of the week with a special lunch and certificates as an acknowledgement of their hard work. Students are selected by the education staff as students of the week for their ability to maintain a positive attitude, daily participation, and ability to complete assignments. Students are also selected if they are able to follow the rules and for their ongoing cooperation efforts with teachers and staff.

The food service staff from the Pasco Regional Juvenile Detention Center has mixed up their food selection in an effort to provide more healthy choices for the youth at the center. The food service team is now offering a chef’s salad with turkey along with apple, baked potatoes and breadsticks.

The Manatee Regional Juvenile Detention Center recently held a Caribbean festival for their staff and advisory board members. The festival included a Caribbean inspired buffet with festive decorations hanging on the walls and Bob Marley music playing in the background. It was a great time for staff advisory board members to get together and enjoy each other’s company. The youth at Manatee RJDC helped with the decorations and those that assisted were invited to the luncheon.

The St. Lucie Regional Juvenile Detention Center celebrated Labor Day with a luncheon for both staff and youth that included food, fun, drinks and games. The event was organized by Major Dedilia Finlayson and everyone involved had a great time. 

The Duval Regional Juvenile Detention Center hosted a luncheon for staff members of the Bureau of Monitoring and Quality Improvement who were on-site at the detention center. The luncheon was hosted by the Duval administration team including Captain Michael Philpot, Major Mark Refour, and Administrative Assistant Gladzena Young. The food was prepared by Annie Ezell.

Members of the Honor Guard from the Eglin Air Force Base made a visit to the Okaloosa Regional Juvenile Detention Center to perform a flag retirement ceremony to commemorate the 17th anniversary of the September 11th attacks on America. The ceremony consisted of the singing of the national anthem followed by the playing of “Taps” on the bugle. Afterward, the airmen came into the facility and hosted a question and answer session with each mod. This was a first for many of the youth, and they were very interested and grateful for these volunteers for coming out and sharing this tradition with them.

Youth from the Escambia Regional Juvenile Detention Center found a unique way to positively interact with the local community. The youth at Escambia decorated rocks that were placed at parks and landmarks throughout the county.

I’m very pleased to share this story that appeared in the Tampa Bay Newspapers regarding a new group that is volunteering their time with the Pinellas RJDC. NOMADstudio is a traveling art bus that provides art supplies and lessons to underserved youth throughout the Tampa Bay Region. NOMADstudio launched justice studio on September 6, which provides a weekly after-school art program for the youth at Pinellas RJDC. We are so grateful for the volunteers that help serve  youth inside our detention centers.                                  

Residential Youth Participate in Poetry Slam and Compete in a Basketball Game

Youth from Duval Academy, a non-secure program for boys  operated by Sequel, continued the hazmat class with Mr. Alan Dallas from Hull Environmental. As mentioned in a previously weekly letter, this class is a 10-week vocational experience that was just recently implemented at Duval Academy. The youth are enjoying the class and many of them are expressing a lot of interest in making a career out of it. If they are 18 years and older, they can be hired once they complete the course.

A few days later, 10 youth from Duval Academy attended the Jumbo Shrimp baseball game. This was the first time many of the youth had ever attended a sporting event of its kind. They watched the game, ate hotdogs, and enjoyed refreshing sodas. They all had a great time at the game!

Hastings Comprehensive Mental Health Treatment Program and Gulf Academy, both non-secure programs for boys operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, took 10 youth to the local Golden Corral for an all-you-can-eat buffet. The youths enjoyed steak, fried chicken, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and a lot of different desserts. These youths have demonstrated consistent positive behavior and have been encouraging the other youth in following suit. Congratulations on your hard work and dedication.

Hastings and Gulf Academy also began preparations for the Hastings and Gulf “Got Talent” contest. Led by the Recreational Therapist Milly Pagan, the youth practiced various talents such as dancing, walking on hands, singing, poetry, and rapping. We anticipate a fun-filled show with our talented youth. 

Hastings and Gulf Academy recently said goodbye and see you soon to one of the pillars of the community, Keith Banks. Mr. Banks has been with the program since the doors opened and has been a mentor to the youth and staff alike. When asked how it feels to be leaving the program, Mr. Banks stated, “It has been a complete blessing to have been able to do this for as long as I have. The youth and staff have made an imprint on my heart that I will cherish forever. But like all things, the end must come and it’s time for me to go.” The Hastings and Gulf Academy staff cannot put into words how important and impactful Mr. Banks has been at the program and want to give nothing but a heartfelt thank you and many blessings as he enjoys retirement and much needed rest.

St. Johns Youth Academy, a secure program for boys operated by Sequel, is focusing on organizational pride. Five youth traveled to the Ritz Theatre and Museum in Jacksonville to participate in an interactive youth summit sponsored by Strong Youth Strong Communities. The summit involved three NFL Hall of Fame football players: Darrell Green (Washington Redskins), Aneas Williams (St. Louis Cardinals), and Anthony Munoz (Cincinnati Bengals). They shared their real-life experiences that led to their success – both on and off the field. The teens also had an opportunity to share their views on problems and solutions to issues impacting them today during breakout sessions with the players. Mr. Darrell Green was really impressed with the youth and spent an hour with them after the program. The youth have photos and autographs that they will cherish forever. The youth who attended shared their experiences with other youth and they were extremely excited about the event. One youth reported, “I can relate to their stories. That’s what makes it so real to me. I appreciate all the things that the hall of famers shared with me. Before I got there, I was feeling bad about myself because I’m incarcerated right now; however, when I went to the event I started feeling good about myself because the event taught me to never give up and give 100% in everything.”  

Youth from Orange Youth Academy, Orlando Intensive Academy, and Jacksonville Youth Academy, non-secure programs for boys operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, recently participated in a competitive basketball game. Jacksonville Youth Academy made the trip to Orlando to participate in the game. The young men were very appreciative and had lots of fun. The programs will continue to have more competitive events in the next upcoming months. 

Last month, Lake Academy, a non-secure program for girls operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solution, participated in a Poetry Slam. The event was hosted by Recreational Therapist Zikeya Hickman and took place to showcase the youth’s unique talent and creativity. The staff and administration came out to show their support to the girls. Congratulations to all those who participated in this great event. 

The students at Okeechobee Juvenile Offender Correction Center, a secure program for boys operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, had the opportunity to participate in a free summer youth program, sponsored by the Vocational Rehabilitation Services. Robert Meier with Vocational Rehabilitation Services shared his vast knowledge and experience of writing resumes, cover letters, preparing for interviews, networking for job placement, and applying for grants to pay for college. He also taught the students how to tie a tie and the youth competed in a tie a tie competition. Mr. Meier is the author of 6 books, and he was kind enough to leave us with two autographed books.

Students who participated and interacted earned tickets that enabled them to win prizes for their moms, with prizes ranging from earrings, necklaces, to jewelry sets. Two of the students who stayed engaged for the duration of the presentation won a tablet each!

Five youth from Miami Youth Academy, a non-secure program for boys operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, were treated to a fun-filled college football game. The five youth, who were accompanied to the game by staff, were top performers within the behavior management system. This experience was thanks to the generosity of one of the program’s incredible community partners, Florida International University (FIU). FIU Panthers hosted the Indiana Hoosiers for the season kick-off and home opener. Special thanks to Youth Specialist Michelle Stewart and Transition Manager Brittney Ashley for their help in making this event happen.