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Secretary's Message

July 22, 2019

Department of Juvenile Justice’s Weekly Letter

Welcome to our weekly letter, with the latest on what’s going on and what the team is doing across the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice. I hope you will take a moment to read about the ways our DJJ staff, providers, and partners are working to improve the lives of Florida’s youth and families and how we are working to make our communities even better.

Please keep sharing your great work, successes, and accomplishments both on and off the clock in serving the youth, families, and communities touched by DJJ. Your stories inspire us all to do more. So, send your good news to news@djj.state.fl.us or call (850) 921–5900 by Thursday at noon.


Secretary Simone Marstiller


Staff Announcements and Kudos


Delinquency Prevention Specialist Carmen Lundy and staffBest wishes to Delinquency Prevention Specialist Carmen Lundy who has retired from DJJ after more than two decades of serving Florida youth in Pensacola.

Carmen was hired by the Department of Juvenile Justice, Office of Probation and Community Intervention in Circuit 1 in April 1995.

After devoting most of her professional career to Probation, she joined the Office of Prevention and Victim Services in September 2017 where she has served for the past two years as the delinquency prevention specialist for Circuits 1 and 14.

In a farewell message, Carmen wrote: “I want to take a moment to thank everyone I have had the privilege of working with at DJJ. The best part of my jobs at DJJ has always been the people I worked with and I appreciate all of you making it such a great experience. I want you to know that I appreciate your unending dedication to the youth and families that you work with. Best wishes and future success to my DJJ family & friends. My future plans are to travel, spend more time with my grandchildren/family, spend more time with my horses and trail rider friends, volunteer with the faith community, and other hobbies.”



Detention HQ new hire Alphonza GatesThe Detention Headquarters team is welcoming a new staff member on board, Alphonza Gates! Mr. Gates has more than 10 years working with our agency where he began as a juvenile justice detention officer. In his new role, he will serve as the Office of Detention Services’ detention program reviewer for the south region. He will conduct program reviews, which includes viewing videos and interviewing staff and youth. Mr. Gates was greeted with a breakfast gathering so he could get to know his new staff. Welcome aboard, Alphonza!








Detention Youth Create Paper Mache Art

Escambia Arts For All instructor Laura Keith KingEscambia Regional Juvenile Detention Center recently participated in Arts For All Residency Program with Laura Keith King as the assigned artist.

One of the projects was to create paper mache’ bowls. The kids were instructed on how to make the bowls step by step. The finished bowls were full of wonderful vibrant colors.  The youth were proud to give their bowls to their parents during visitation.










Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center youth at charity car washCircuit 9 Probation and Detention Staff gathered together at the Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center to raise money for a school supply drive with a bake sale and a car wash.  The event also featured several youth working to complete needed community work service hours. By the end of the event over $100 was raised to purchase school supplies for youth and families in need.





Broward Regional Juvenile Detention Center girl's night activity suppliesBroward Regional Juvenile Detention Center recently hosted a Girl’s Night for the female youth at the center. The Girl’s Night activities included makeovers, nails, and hair. Detention staff also provided snacks and set everything up.

Also at Broward Regional Juvenile Detention Center, the detention center recently partnered with the Florida Barbers Association to provide all youth at the center with haircuts. The event was very successful and the group is scheduled to return on a monthly basis.

BRJDC youth getting haircuts from the Florida Barbers Association




CRJDC door painted by youthThe youth at Collier Regional Juvenile Detention Center demonstrated their love for art by decorating the doors on the mods.  Arts for All, along with Mr. Romero, provided a cool activity for the youth this summer to express their talents through art.  The youth were excited to participate in this program.  The skills they have learned will help them channel their energy into something positive for their communities









New furniture and CRJDC honors modCollier Regional Juvenile Detention Center continued the upgrades with much needed new furniture and games, and the youth were thrilled. In addition to the renovations to the Honors Mod, every youth’s room has been painted with chalkboard paint to let the youth express themselves.







CRJDC Major Gross and Project Help counselorsProject Help, a victim advocacy program, visited Collier Regional Juvenile Detention Center to meet with Major Goss.  Project Help provides victims with one-on-one counselling, group therapy, and support groups.  The program meets with youth twice a week to explain their services and provide counselling if needed at Collier Regional.





Collage of food for level 3 youth in the central regionPinellas Interim Superintendent Reginald Allen re-implemented level 3 weekly meals to be sponsored through generous donors. Youth were delighted to have meatball hoagies with mozzarella cheese , chips and drinks. This event was sponsored by Central Region Director Monica Gray.






ORJDC youth on water slideThe Community Alliance at the Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center sponsored a 4th of July Celebration for the youth and staff at the detention center. The Community Alliance donated the use of a water slide, food for the youth and staff, and donated their time volunteering at the event. Detention Services Central Regional Director Monica Gray even had the chance to attend.

The older boys of the B2 mod were hesitant to join in the fun, but agreed to go down the water slide only if members of the detention team and the Community Alliance joined them in going down the slide as well. Of course, they did and a good time was had by all!

Thank you to Captain Reginald Allen for helping to organize the event!

 ORJDC staff at 4th of July celebrationORJDC staff on water slide









Residential Youth Participate in Building Race Boat

Home Builders Institute (HBI) Youth at Okeechobee Juvenile Offender Corrections Center (OJOCC) participated in the 2019 Minimal Regatta in Okeechobee. The Minimal Regatta is an annual homemade boat race for charity. The youth worked on a boat for the local Police Department painting and building a seat for the boat. The boat was paddled by Officer Many Cisneros of the Okeechobee City Police Department (OCPD). OJOCC’s Michael Durham worked with the OCPD auxiliary and assisted with keeping the boat steady until the start of the race. The kids really enjoyed working on this project and were excited to hear that they placed 3rd in their division and the boat did not sink! 

OCPD officer Many Cisneros and Michael Durham of OJOCC.
Pictured above (from left to right): OCPD officer Many Cisneros and Michael Durham of OJOCC.

Detention Youth Shows Educational Excellence in National Poetry Contest

 Congratulations to student A.G. at Pinellas Juvenile Detention Center, and Derek Sanders, his teacher, who participated in and tied for 2nd place in the national Center for Educational Excellence in Alternative Settings (CEEAS) Words Unlocked Poetry Contest.  CEEAS, runs Words Unlocked, a month-long poetry initiative for students held in locked juvenile justice and adult facilities to encourage young people to voice their truths about the ways their circumstances contribute to, yet do not solely define, who they are. Since its inception in 2013, over 5,000 students from around the country have participated in Words Unlocked.  You can read the youth’s winning poem here .

words unlocked logo



CCJOCC winning submission for comic competitionCongratulations to a youth from Cypress Creek Juvenile Offender Correctional Center who was chosen as the national winner of Clash of the Heroes Character Design Competition!

Phase one of the competition is complete, but there is still another chance for students to be featured in this summer’s DJJ/NCIL comic! Students will build upon stage 1 and create a storyline for the comic using the winning character from stage one, Medic Man. Visit the Improving Literacy website to learn about how to get involved








Fort Myers Residential Program Adopts Therapy Dog

Fort Myers Youth Academy Therapy Dog T-RexFort Myers Youth Academy, a non-secure program for boys, which is operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, developed a partnership with the local humane society and they are now bringing a shelter dog to Fort Myers Youth Academy grief groups and youth community meetings, and they have their own therapy dog on site.

Laura Allard, transitional services manager at Fort Myers Youth Academy, started the program after a discussion with the humane society staff. The staff noticed that during grief sessions the dogs were helping the boys deal with grief-related issues, and that a trained therapy dog might be a good fit. The youth enjoyed interacting with the dogs and learned how to take care of them.

So now, through Therapy K9's and the Children's Advocacy Center, Fort Myers Youth Academy has its own therapy-trained grief dog! The dog is named T-Rex, (don’t be fooled by the name, he’s very lovable) and the youth enjoy interacting with him.


Center For Success and Independence - Ocala youth on water slideCenter for Success and Independence - Ocala, a non-secure program for boys, which is operated by Youth Opportunity Investments, celebrated Independence Day with the staff and youth. The day was filled with fun activities, such as a large soapy water slide, blow-up swimming pools, and an outside BBQ. The meal was prepared by the Facility Administrator Joseph Shuler and Assistant Facility Administrator Kenneth Owens. This activity focused on team work, and communication amongst peers. Each dorm formed teams to compete against each other. This activity was to also help build strong and healthy relationships with each other. The fun filled day ended great with every youth having a smile.







Brooksville Academy youth viewing fireworksBrooksville Academy, a non-secure program for boys, which is operated by Youth Opportunity Investments, celebrated July 4, 2019 by having a cookout for the youth and staff, playing games, and ending the night with a firework show. In the morning, Recreational Therapist Greg Malone led groups in a three-way tug of war to see which group would be the last standing. While the groups were competing, Lead Case Manager Stanley Martin grilled hamburgers and hotdogs for all. During the afternoon, groups came individually to the cafeteria to whip up some homemade ice cream using an ice cream churn. The vanilla ice cream was topped off with a variety of toppings for the kids to choose from. At the end of the evening, Facility Administrator Javonte Crenshaw and Assistant Facility Administrator Tanya McGrew hosted a firework show for all the youth that had earned the nightly incentive. The young men that had earned their day brought their chair out to the courtyard for a display to celebrate our country’s independence.



Broward Youth Treatment Center staff grilling at fourth of July celebrationThe youth and staff at Broward Youth Treatment Center, a non-secure program for boys, which is operated by Youth Opportunity Investments, celebrated our nation’s independence on July 4th. The staff hosted a party for the youth that included a special barbeque meal and numerous activities. The youth enjoyed the delicious food and refreshments. Youth and staff were excited to participate in various sporting events throughout the day. A great time was had by all!









Probation Staff Complete PAR Training

Belinda K. Frank, Kiaundric Richardson, and Brianna N. Grant, the newest PAR class of 2019.

Congratulations to Circuit 8 Probation’s newly certified (PAR) Probation and Screener Officers! Belinda K. Frank, Kiaundric Richardson, and Brianna N. Grant, are the circuit’s newest (PAR) Protective Action Response class of 2019. These staff successfully completed PAR verbal and physical intervention techniques and successfully passed the PAR written exam with flying colors. DJJ is proud to add these new members to the Circuit 8 team!


Prevention Staff Attend Probation Car Wash

Shanteria Randall, delinquency prevention specialist for Circuits 9, 18, and 19 recently volunteered to work with Circuit 9 juvenile probation officers at a charity car wash/back to school supply drive in Orlando, FL. Shanteria joined Circuit 9 JPO’s who washed cars and collected backpacks, notebooks and other school supplies to assist deserving youth in Central Florida.

Donations from the car wash will go towards a DJJ Back to School BBQ on August 9. At this event, the Department will provide food, activities, and various resources for the youth and their families to get connected within the community.

Among those assisting with the back to school drive were Juvenile Probation Officers Norman Serrod, Katie Baldacci, and Dequisah Darville. Juvenile Probation Officer Supervisor Irma Melendez organized all events.

Among those who “liked” the event when a photo and news were posted on social media was the Orlando Police Department who saluted the Department of Juvenile Justice for “saluting the youth they supervise.”

supporter and JPO Supervisor Irma Melendez at charity carwash
Pictured above (from left to right): a supporter and JPO Supervisor Irma Melendez.


Prevention staff at provider training

To assist providers hoping to conduct business with the Department of Juvenile Justice, the Office of Prevention recently conducted a provider training titled “What providers need to know when doing business with the state of Florida” at the Gadsden County Public Library in Quincy, FL. Prevention Budget Administrator Brent Musgrove presided over the session and delivered a presentation titled: ”Show Me the Money,” where he explained the procurement process.

Prevention Assistant Secretary Alice Sims delivered the welcome comments and opening remarks where she thanked attendees for their interest in doing business with the state of Florida.

Director of Background Screening Myra Burks explained the need and importance of  background screening in a session titled “Are Your Staff Clear to Work?”

Contract Management Supervisor Aaron Mathews in the Bureau of Contract Management, explained contracts in a session titled, “Now, What Exactly Does my Contract Say?”

Policy & Special Projects Coordinator Wendy Pierre-McNealy in the Bureau of Monitoring and Quality Improvement, spoke on “Let’s Work Together to Get Things Right!!!”

Approximately 30 current and prospective providers attended the training.


PACE CEO Mary Marx and Alumna Mikhaela Jennings meeting with congressPACE Center for Girls President and CEO Mary Marx and PACE Alumna Mikhaela Jennings recently traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with members of Congress and their staff to advocate for the prevention needs of girls.

Mikhaela shared her powerful story of transformation and the positive impact PACE had on her life.  After graduating from PACE, Mikaela now serves in the United States Army as a Combat Documentation Production Specialist. 

Members of Congress will use the testimonies of the PACE girls when considering legislation that may potentially impact the lives of girls and young women in Florida and elsewhere around the United States.