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Secretary's Message

December 17, 2018

Department of Juvenile Justice’s Weekly Letter

The holiday season is a special time of celebration, where we gather together with our loved ones to look back fondly on the year and ponder what the new year will bring. I want to thank our DJJ staff, providers, partners, and friends for their dedication and support of our agency this past year. DJJ has seen many changes this past year, but all of your commitment, hard work and diligent efforts in providing the very best services to Florida’s youth and families remained constant.

I would like to wish each and every one of you a safe, happy, and joyous holiday season and a wonderful new year.


                                                                                                                                                    Interim Secretary Timothy Niermann

DJJ Staff Celebrate Festive Fridays and Participate in Jingle Mingle

For the month of December, we invited all DJJ staff members to participate in Festive Fridays, as a way to have some fun during the holiday season. Every Friday hosted a different theme and on December 7, we kicked off Festive Fridays in style with our “Ugly Winter Sweater/Shirt Day.” We asked staff members across the state to wear their most festive winter sweater or shirt. Thank you for all of our DJJ staff who sent in their pictures and for helping us get into the holiday spirit.

Check out our next weekly letter where we will share the rest of our Festive Friday themes! 

The DJJ Office of Administration also held their 2nd annual Jingle Mingle at DJJ Headquarters on December 7. The Jingle Mingle featured a wide range of activities that employees could participate in while enjoying the fellowship of their co-workers. The Bureau of General Services held a holiday themed photo booth, the Bureau of Budget hosted a bean bag and corn hole toss, the Bureau of Human Resources held a basketball contest, and the Bureau of Information Technology turned their offices into a putt-putt course. 

Staff Announcements and Kudos

Congratulations to Circuit 8 Senior Probation Officer (SJPO) Dollie Wygant who was named the circuit’s Probation Officer of the Quarter for the final quarter of 2018 as well as Probation Officer of the Year. SJPO Wygant was presented with these certificates by Chief Probation Officer Rebecca Rogers and Assistant Chief Sandi Brannan during the circuit’s recent quarterly meeting. SJPO Wygant exemplifies teamwork and exhibits a high level of care, concern and compassion for the youth and families we serve and for all those she encounters. 

Pictured above: SJPO Dollie Wygant (right) and CPO Rebecca Rogers

Please help us welcome Harry L. Motley to the position of training and research manager within the Office of Staff Development and Training. With over 25 years of combined experience in state government and law enforcement, Harry has most recently served as the management review coordinator within the Office of the Inspector General (OIG). Harry will serve as the unit manager overseeing the Youth Engagement Model (currently known as PAR).

During his tenure with the OIG, Harry held the position of assistant chief investigations and assisted with the implementation of the Department’s Incident Operation Center (IOC), which included state-wide training and facilitation of the incident review process. Harry also previously served at the Department of Children and Families and the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. Harry also received his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Liberty University.

Harry’s historical knowledge and expertise will be a wonderful addition to the Staff Development and Training team and the Youth Engagement Model Program.

Shop With the Florida Juvenile Justice Foundation This Holiday Season

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!

Prevention Staff Give Back By Participating in Community Outreach Events

Assistant Secretary for Prevention and Victim Services Alice Sims and Headquarters Prevention staff celebrated the holidays by giving back to the community. The festivities began with the Prevention staff sharing a holiday breakfast, coordinated by Administrative Assistant Latonya Hill, where they reflected on the hard work and dedication each team member brings to the table.

Assistant Secretary Sims and the leadership team, including Chief Marcus Smith, thanked and recognized each team member’s hard work and dedication to serving our community. Special thanks were given to Federal Assistant Gloria Gatlin, who worked diligently to transform the Prevention Office into a colorful “Winter Wonderland.”

Pictured above (from left to right): Derrick Crawford, Procurement Specialist; LaTonya Hill, Administrative Assistant; Alice Sims, Prevention Assistant Secretary; Marcus Smith, Policy Chief; and Brent Musgrove, Budget Administrator pose with gifts that were delivered to senior citizens at the Cross-Landing Nursing Home in Monticello

Following the breakfast, Assistant Secretary Sims and DJJ staff visited the Cross Landings Nursing Home in Monticello where they delivered gifts to each resident at the facility. The “Senior Angel Tree” project was conducted in collaboration with the Florida Council on Crime and Delinquency. It was aimed at celebrating the elderly population, who sometimes are forgotten during the holidays.

The staff, and especially the residents, were extremely grateful for the gifts and the caroling. All of this was possible because of over 30 DJJ staff members who shared in the “gift of giving” by providing the wonderful presents for the senior citizens. Thank you Team DJJ for your love and support in adopting the seniors at Cross Landings Nursing Home and making them have a wonderful holiday season!

Delinquency Prevention Specialist Willie Smith III participated in the Generation WOW event at the Lazzara Theater on the campus of the University of North Florida in Jacksonville. Generation WOW held their annual symposium where girls and women connect to inspire, educate and motivate each other.

At Generation WOW, girls are exposed to positivity and possibility by meeting women who are leaders in their communities, homes and workplaces. Focused on self-confidence, independence, healthy living, leadership, service and mentorship, the goal of Generation WOW is to provide a trusted and inspiring experience that will forge relationships, inspire dreams and deliver results to enhance lives.

WOW featured inspiring speakers, interactive activities and relevant topics which exposed the girls to diverse career pathways, leadership development, mentorship, healthy living, goal-setting and making positive decisions. 

Pictured above: Willie Smith III (right) and Generation WOW Project Manager Pixie Larizza

Delinquency Prevention Specialist Jashett Omeally volunteered during the recent Farm Share event in Quincy. There were several organizations and agencies participating in this community event, including the Department of Juvenile Justice, Department of Children & Families, Department of Financial Services, Refuge House, Boys Town and a host of others. Farm Share distributed free food, toiletries, and blankets to residents of Gadsden, Leon, Liberty, Jefferson, Franklin and Wakulla counties with the assistance of dozens of volunteers including Major Conrad McCray, superintendent of Leon Detention Center, the Office of Probation’s Assistant Chief Christina Ash and several JPOs, Circuit 2 CAB Secretary Deborah Shaw and a host of other individuals and organizations. There were over 1000 families served at this event. The families were very grateful for the assistance, especially following the devastation caused by Hurricane Michael.

Delinquency Prevention Specialist Jashett Omeally also volunteered during the Thanksgiving basket assembly and distribution event at the Bethel AME Church in Tallahassee. This heartwarming Thanksgiving outreach project has been a continued call to action for over 32 years. Volunteers packaged approximately 350 food baskets and delivered them to families in need the next day. Bethel AME continues to make a difference in the Leon County community. This was just one of several charitable initiatives the church sponsors throughout the year. 

More than 80 DJJ staff members and close to 200 other stakeholders attended the inaugural 2018 Restoring Hope Training Summit in Orlando. The summit was aimed at providing community partners and stakeholders with information that better prepared them to engage with and have a positive impact on Florida youth.

The event, coupled with the leadership and commitment of those in attendance, served as a clear example of people helping people. It also reflected the culture of collaboration and compassion. Those in attendance played a role in shaping the community of today as well as paving the way for future generations. Because of education and knowledge, attendees were better equipped to overcome challenges.

Pictured above (from left to right): Policy Chief Marcus Smith; CAB Coordinator Tina Levene; Dio Pouerie; Tekoa Pouerie, Circuit 9 CAB Chair and Director of Center Advancement for PACE Center for Girls; Alice Sims, Assistant Secretary, Prevention & Victim Services; and Interim Secretary Tim Niermann

Training summit highlights included opening remarks by Interim Secretary Tim Niermann and a keynote presentation by Tekoa Pouerie, former DJJ staffer and current director of center advancement at PACE Center for Girls in Orlando. Other keynote speakers included Dr. Genevia Boyd, senior pastor of City of the Lord Church, Inc. in Clewiston. Circuit Advisory Board Coordinator Tina Levene also moderated the training session.

Also in attendance was Didier Moncion, grants management specialist (Compliance), State Relations & Assistance Division (SRAD), Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention.

Three families were also recognized for overcoming challenges to provide positive futures for their children. DJJ’s Juvenile Justice Teacher of the Year Award winner and finalists were also recognized.

Probation Youth Recognized by Local United Way

Congratulations to the youth from the AMIkids Miami North program who were featured in the recent United Way of Miami-Dade newsletter. The Miami-North’s Path to Success program was featured in the newsletter, which is a performance-based program that combines behavior modification, education and treatment to provide students, referred through DJJ, with experimental education opportunities.

The Circuit 16 Probation team held their annual retreat day where they headed to “The Art Studio” in Marathon to paint pottery pieces. Coffee mugs, holiday ornaments, and trinkets were painted and fired, then sent home with the team to enjoy. After the painting excursion, the team went to lunch together and enjoyed dining by the water. The team also participated in the Festive Friday Ugly Sweater Contest and named two team members, Jebreal Jones and Michelle Whitehead, the winners of the contest. 

Circuit 7 Senior Juvenile Probation Officer Donna Easterling and her fellow sorority sisters from Delta Sigma Theta participated in the EMBODI (Empowering Males to Build Opportunities for Developing Independence) Symposium for at-risk and transitional young men in Flagler County. The symposium featured sessions on healthy relationships, life skills, positive encounters with law enforcement, and financial literacy. It enabled these young men to take away some important life skills, which will help them have a successful transition back into their community and in their future plans. The group was engaged, asked questions, and provided feedback. This was overall a positive experience for all who participated and will have a positive impact on the community.

Chief Probation Officer Rebecca Rogers, Assistant Chief Sandi Brannan, and other staff members from Circuit 8 attended the recent holiday luncheon hosted by Circuit Judge Susanne Wilson Bullard. Juvenile public defenders, assistant state attorneys, regional counsels, juvenile clerks, as well as other circuit judges were also in attendance. Judge Bullard is widely known for her compassion and comprehensive approach in her decision-making regarding juveniles in Alachua County. The Circuit 8 staff are fortunate to be surrounded by a great team of child advocates, as we help troubled youth to achieve successful outcomes and brighter futures.

Circuit 8 Reform Specialist Melanie Kretzman presided over a graduation ceremony for probation staff members for their proficiency in the EPICS (Effective Practices in Community Supervision) Model. Phase II of EPICS in Circuit 8 will begin in January 2019! Circuit 8 is ready to start a new year of service and dedication to the youth of Florida!

The Circuit 13 Probation staff participated in the “Ugly Winter Sweater/Shirt Day,” with their own unique spin. The team changed it to showcase their “pretty” winter sweater/shirts in the spirit of the holiday season. Throughout the month of December, Circuit 13 will be enjoying the holiday season with decorations and holiday treats.

Detention Youth Receive Florida ID Cards and Get Help From Therapy Dog

As we’ve previously mentioned, DJJ has partnered with the Florida Licensing on Wheels (FLOW) to provide free Florida ID cards for DJJ youth. One of the FLOW vehicles recently stopped by the Escambia Regional Juvenile Detention Center (RJDC) to provide the youth in secure detention with IDs to use to seek employment. FLOW has agreed to come by Escambia RJDC every other month to provide this awesome free service for our youth.

In addition, the Escambia RJDC also participated in our agency’s Ugly Sweater contest. Escambia’s winner was Juvenile Detention Officer Richard Carrion (pictured right). All the participants had a wonderful time sharing their ugly apparel.

Once again, Justice, DJJ’s first pet therapy dog from the Broward Regional Juvenile Detention Center, was called upon to perform magic with a young lady who has had a lifetime of serious mental health issues. Justice gladly accepted the role of soother and comforter. He sat with her for approximately 3 hours, allowing her to lay on him, pet him, and engage in wonderful conversation (Justice is a great listener).

Justice does some of his best work with those needing the most attention and is a champ at calming the most upset young person down, just by being in their presence. After meeting the youth, he will then assume the passive, non- threatening dog position by laying down near the youth so that the youth is able to pet him, lay on him, talk to him and express their feelings to him. He has an innate sense of who needs him the most and will search them out from a group of youth. He always brings a smile to the faces of the youth who spend time with him.

Justice worked very hard this day, and the end result was well worth his time and effort. Due to his hard work, he received a great meal once back at home.

During a recent visitation at the Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center, Captain Louise Quick presented parents coming into the facility with a sticky note and a candy cane. Parents placed their youth’s initials on the candy cane with the sticky note and decorated the tree in the lobby. All the parents participated, and the decorations and activity sparked a lot of positive comments and parents talking to each other about their youth, detention, and the holiday season.  

Also happening at Orange RJDC, the staff presented Assistant Secretary Dixie Fosler and Director Monica Gray with honorary Orange Tough Awards and the Orange Tough uniform pin. Assistant Secretary Fosler and Director Gray were awarded this recognition due to their unwavering support and encouragement of the team at the detention center.


The medical department at the Leon Regional Juvenile Detention Center provided chili and nachos for all detention staff at the facility in celebration of the winter festivities. The education team at Leon RJDC participated as well. All of the team members left the luncheon with full stomachs.

Residential Youth and Staff Celebrate the Holiday Season  

Tis the Season for Giving! Considering the impact Hurricane Michael left on the Florida Panhandle, specifically Bay County, the Northwest Residential Services team decided to host a chili lunch for the Circuit 14 Probation staff at their new temporary office space in Panama City. Many of these staff had both their personal and work lives turned upside down, with many of them losing their homes and office. Three different chili recipes with all the fixings were provided, along with some delicious dessert, including red velvet cake, key lime cupcakes, and holiday bark. 

This year, the Northwest Residential Services team decided to make a bigger impact with the toiletry bags normally given to the program youth. The team was able to partner with Catholic Charities of NW Florida in Panama City to donate the “blessing bags.” These bags will be paired with blankets to be given out in the Panama City and surrounding areas to youth and families in need. The bags included toiletries, candy canes and cards with inspirational messages. The toiletries were donated from DJJ staff and friends from all over the state, and the cards were thoughtfully made by youth from Okaloosa Youth Academy, JoAnn Bridges Academy, and Dove Vocational Academy. This year, they received donations so numerous that they were able to make a total of 300 bags, more than doubling the amount of last year’s bags! 

The Northwest Residential Services team would like to thank the many, many contributors whose donations made this annual project possible!

Okaloosa Youth Academy, a non-secure program for boys, operated by Gulf Coast Treatment Center, recently hosted a holiday family day for the program’s youth and families. They had an exceptional showing, with 85 visitors coming to see their loved one for the holidays. Families were served a delicious meal, prepared by the young men who work in the kitchen apprenticeship program. They also engaged in board games and other recreational activities throughout the day. They were thrilled to also have Prevention Specialist Carmen Lundy and two members of the DJJ Faith-Based Community join the youth and their families for a day of fellowship.

Youth from Orange Youth Academy, a non-secure program for boys operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, visited with Clare and the Chocolate Nutcracker at Dr. Phillips High School in Orlando.

Clare and the Chocolate Nutcracker is an adaptation of the popular classical ballet by Beverly Page, president and CEO of the Orlando Community Arts, Inc. Students visualized the journey with Clare through her enchanting dream as she travels with the Chocolate Nutcracker and the Sugar Plum Fairy to the Land of Toys. Clare and the Chocolate Nutcracker explore the cultures of various places such as Africa, China, India, the Caribbean and America! The show highlighted several genres of dance such as ballet, stepping, jazz, modern, swing, gospel and hip hop. This was an exciting multicultural event!

Three youth from Pompano Youth Treatment Center, a non-secure program for boys operated by Sequel, were able to select trees for the program, as part of an ongoing community partnership with Pastor Gary of Genius Youth for Christ. Once the trees arrived back to the program, the other youth had the opportunity to adorn the trees, as Pompano Youth Treatment Center gets into the holiday spirit.

This past weekend, the youth at Broward Youth Treatment Center, a non-secure program for boys operated by Youth Opportunity Investments, attended the University of Miami Hurricanes vs the University of Pittsburgh Panthers college football game. For all the youth, it was their first chance to be able to attend a game of the much-storied football program, the “U”. The Panthers came into the game ranked #24 in the country and our Hurricanes thoroughly beat them 24-3 in an upset victory. The youth were treated to fantastic seating in the stadium and got the full game experience. One particular youth described it as “totally different from what I see on tv, the crowd was live and I could feel the vibes.”

For some of the youth, who had previously toured the stadium during one of the last outings, it was a unique experience to attend a game after having seen what happens behind the scenes.

The youth at the Broward Youth Treatment Center, along with staff, had the opportunity to see the iconic movie Creed II at the beautiful Pembroke Pines Town Center. The movie follows the story of Apollo Creed’s son as he becomes the new heavyweight champion of the world. It is a powerful film that perfectly exemplifies courage, resilience and overcoming obstacles. There were plenty of great moral lessons that the youth took in throughout the movie that they can now apply to their own lives. Thank you to all the staff who helped make this possible but a special thank you to the Assistant Facility Administrator for putting this outing together for everyone.

At the beginning of the month, Miami Youth Academy, a non-secure program for boys operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, celebrated with full pomp and circumstance the graduation of one GED recipient, Graduate M.D., who also is a freshman at Miami Dade College. Graduate M.D. was presented with a cap and tassel and adorned a graduate gown. As a graduate, M.D. left a motivating message on the "Believe You Can" wall.

Youth M.D. is the newest graduate, a continued testament to the strong relationship between TrueCore Miami Youth Academy and Miami-Dade County Public Schools – Office of Alternative Education.

Special thanks to Miami Dade County Public Schools education team for their dedication to helping every youth. Youth M.D. will remain focused on transitioning to seeking college acceptance for Spring 2019. TrueCore is committed to providing the youth with useful tools. TrueCore sends a special thanks to Regional Director Robbin Berry for their continued innovative support.