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Secretary's Message

August 21, 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

Congratulations to Our Newly Certified Juvenile Justice Detention Officers!

In August, 15 juvenile detention officers graduated from the Juvenile Justice Detention Officer Academy in a ceremony at Hillsborough Community College. The guest speaker for the event was Major Reginald T. Allen from Pinellas Regional Juvenile Detention Center (RJDC). The class president was William Scheel, the class company commander was Dontee Scheel and the class secretary was Karen Lyons


Hillsborough Community College: August 2019

Hillsborough College Class of 2019

Class Motto: “A Positive Outlook, Reflects Positive Change”

Bottom Row(left to right): Jenae Swann (Pinellas), Kahil Justice (Hillsborough), Herick St.Fort (Manatee), Dontee Nicholls (Hillsborough), Giuseppe Saggio (Pasco), Lloyd Dunlap (Hillsborough)

Top 1st Row (left to right): Karen Lyons (Pinellas), Surensa Louis (Manatee), Jacqueline Gilreath (Manatee), Erica Goodman (Pinellas), Zhanice Loney (Manatee)

Top 2nd Row(left to right): Darrel Grimes (Hillsborough), William Scheel (Pasco), Kyle Watts (Pasco), Michael Bright (Pinellas)


Congratulations to Sergeant Paul Kulbok from Pasco County Regional Juvenile Detention Center who was recently named Central Region Employee of the Month. Sgt. Kulbok is not only one of the A-shift supervisors, but also the detention review specialist, CPR/Basic Life Support instructor, and assists with training new supervisors.

Also, at Pasco RJDC Major Williams presented Intrastate Transportation Network (ITN) drivers, Officer Jerome Tatum and Officer Latasha Brinson with certificates of appreciation after being spotted on the road one morning by a Central Region staff member. Officers Tatum and Brinson were observed being cautious and driving safely. During the many stops at other detention centers, traveling in heavy traffic and the long hours, it’s extremely satisfying that we have staff that take the transportation of our youth with the utmost care!


Pasco employee of the month Paul KulbokPasco certificate of appreciation recipient latasha brinson



Central employee of the month Rema GreenCongratulations to Food Service Worker Rema Green for being named Central Region Employee of the Month. Ms. Green is an outstanding team member and was nominated by her Food Service Director and Acting Captain Douglas Fergerson.

Ms. Green is always willing to do anything that is asked of her, she works hard on whatever task she is assigned, and is always the first to have her training completed. Recently, during staff turnover in the kitchen, Ms. Green has gone above and beyond to help get things done.









Orange RJDC employee of the month Corporal CookeCongratulations to Corporal Shawn Cooke who was recently named the Orange RJDC Employee of the Month. Corporal Cooke assisted with maintenance coverage for two weeks while the maintenance manager was on leave. Corporal Cooke also volunteers to cut hair for the level 3 youth and is a recipient of the Orange Tough award. Corporal Cooke is one of the hardest working juvenile detention officers at the facility. Corporal Cooke was also previously named Central Region Employee of the Month for his dedicated efforts.









orange captains award recipient Webster TimmonsCongratulations go to Corporal Webster Timmons from Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center (shown left in gray) who was recently presented with a Captains Award for working long hours and for being dedicated to the job at hand.

Congratulations also to Corporal Jonathan Didia (below in gray) who was presented the Captains Award for being a team player and always being ready to lend a helping hand when needed.


Orange Captains Award Recipient Jonathan Didia



IT employee of the month Ana VidalCongratulations to Mark Shubrick (not pictured) and Ana Vidal for being recognized as the Information Technology (IT) Employees of the Month! 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.






Office of Background Screening Participates in National Night Out

DJJ staff at National Night OutThe DJJ Background Screening Unit recently celebrated National Night Out with Officer Denmark from the Tallahassee Police Department (TPD). Officer Denmark shared great tips on how the community can help the police combat crime and how to make local neighborhoods a safe place to live. Officer Denmark also shared tips and programs that TPD has in place to inform the community of what’s going on and safety programs available for local youth.

National Night Out is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live.

Probation Staff Take Part in Back to School Drives


Circuit 7 Probation staff participated in a Back to School Block Party sponsored by the Webster School, a community partnership school in St. Johns County. Staff from Circuit 7 included: JPO Devon Whitten, JPO Regenia Johnson, JPOS John Thompson and JPO Karen McNeal. This event was supported by several community stakeholders and DJJ provided the youth with book bags and school supplies. This was a well-attended event with over 400 youth and families participating. Circuit 7 staff are committed to removing the barriers to services and solutions in our community, and this event was an amazing opportunity to collaborate and build even stronger relationships.  


JPO Devon Whitten, JPO Regenia Johnson, JPOS John Thompson and JPO Karen McNeal

Pictured above (from left to right): JPO Devon Whitten, JPO Regenia Johnson, JPOS John Thompson and JPO Karen McNeal



Backpacks prepared by probation staffCircuit 8 Probation staff held its 2nd Annual School Supplies Drive and it was an amazing success! Lead by JPO Supervisor Dollie Wygant, this event was a collaboration among the Circuit 8 staff, the Alachua Regional Juvenile Detention Center, AMIkids, the Department of Corrections, the Public Defenders Office, Pacific Counseling, Northeast Regional Juvenile Probation staff and the Gainesville Police Department. Forty backpacks were collected and filled with an abundance of school supplies. These backpacks were provided to many youth in need who reside in all six counties of Circuit 8. Each JPO hand-delivered backpacks to their youth’s homes so they could start the school year off well-prepared. Through this great community partnership and collaboration, we were able to truly make a difference by “turning around the lives of troubled youth”, as part of DJJ’s mission.

backpacks prepared by circuit 16 probationProbation staff in the 16th Circuit in Key West threw a Back to School event for youth and their families at a local park. Youth and their families were able to enjoy food, play basketball with the juvenile probation officers, enjoy music from a local DJ, and socialize with their peers. Each youth that attended went home with a backpack full of school supplies. The circuit was even able to provide backpacks for siblings of DJJ youth. It was a great day for everyone!




Blake Academy cleanup volunteersCircuit 10 Probation staff and Reform Specialist (RS) Natalie Montgomery partnered with a few Lakeland Police Department (LPD) officers to clean up the school grounds of Blake Academy in Lakeland. Eighteen probation youth participated in pulling overgrown weeds, picking up moss and limbs, picking up trash, and painting one of the classrooms. The LPD Officers were generous enough to provide pizza and juice for the students. The youth had a great time and Blake Academy was beautified just in time before the school year began.


Lakeland baseball game at national night outAlso in Circuit 10, RS Natalie Montgomery attended the National Night Out event held at the Publix Field - Joker Marchant Stadium. National Night Out is held annually throughout the United States to bring awareness to police programs in communities, such as drug prevention, town watch, neighborhood watch, and other anti-crime efforts. At the event, children were able to meet their favorite superheroes including Spiderman, Captain America, Batman and Wonder Woman. Also, the minor league team, the Lakeland Flying Tigers, hosted a baseball game against the Tampa Tarpons. The City of Lakeland offered a fireworks show immediately after the game.


Basket prepared for tummies to teens programJuvenile Probation Officer (JPO) Diana Clarke and JPO Jeneen St. Louis in Circuit 10 participated in the Tummies to Teens event hosted by the Healthy Start Coalition and Drug Free Highlands. This event provided families with resources and support for health and wellness. The JPOs in Unit 101 thoughtfully donated a basket full of baby items to a wonderful family in need.





Recently, several Circuit 10 Probation JPOs and JPO Supervisor Korri Stallworth oversaw 16 Probation youth during a community service event in the Winter Haven, FL area. The youth participated in a roadside cleanup and helped collect trash and other items on the side of the road.


Youth at alligator farmAs a back-to-school incentive last week, AMIkids Jacksonville took several of their students on field trips where they were able to skate, visit Ginnie Springs, see the alligator farm in St. Augustine, go to the movies, and bowl. A water slide was even brought on site to the enjoyment of all!







Youth at Florida Memorial University campusThis past weekend, there was a very special individual joining the group of students moving onto Florida Memorial University's campus: a recent AMIkids Greater Fort Lauderdale graduate! He has made the huge leap into his college life and we are excited to see all the great things he will accomplish.











Youth and staff at youth home.Answering an email request for assistance by the Gainesville Police Department recently, Project Connect Transition Specialist (TS) Casharo Thomas spearheaded a collective effort on behalf of DJJ Circuit 3 Probation staff and other Project Connect staff to assist a local family in furnishing their relocation out of Gainesville and into Branford. TS Thomas was able to acquire and provide the family with a couch, love seat, bed and bedding. Also, one of TS Thomas’ family members donated $150 to assist with utility deposits. Project Connect Lead Transition Specialist Ashley Ward procured additional beds, linens, lamps, shoes and clothes for the youth, his mother and sibling. Circuit 3 Chief Probation Officer Rebecca Rogers procured a $100 gift card for the youth to purchase back-to-school clothes while Circuit 3 Secretary Specialist Jeanette Ryder gifted the family with $110 of food and $125 toward clothes for the youth and his sister. SMA II Dwight Poole donated $100 for school clothes as well. In addition, a local realtor donated used furniture for the collective effort. Needless to say, the efforts of all who participated were welcomed by the family. They are secure in new housing and have the comforts they need to confidently settle into a welcoming community. Thanks to all who participated in this generous effort!

AMIKids youth at new jobAMIkids Clay County is proud to share that Jackson, a student for more than two years now, is now employed at Dunkin Donuts! Jackson worked hard to reach this goal of gaining employment and looks forward to beginning this new journey.










Project connect youthProject Connect would like to acknowledge the hard work, resilience and dedication to change exhibited by Youth I.S. in Circuit 2. When Youth I.S. began transition services he displayed very anti-social behaviors to the point that removing him from his home for a period of time became necessary. When he returned home in June 2019 and began working with Circuit 2 Transition Specialist Michelle (TS) Glisson and Life Coach Greg Turner, Youth IS was still struggling with family relationships and would often stay secluded in his room. Utilizing Project Connect’s Family Reintegration Circles strategy, TS Glisson established restorative justice goals for the family to break down barriers of communication and build more trusting relationships. Youth I.S. learned that while he cannot control the actions/behavior of others, he can control his own behavior and how he reacts to others behavior. He has matured greatly and interacts with the community at large more and has joined a local church. In addition Youth I.S. leads small group clean-up efforts around the church and volunteers to assist in maintenance projects. Life Coach Greg Turner visited Youth I.S. during a church service recently and was very impressed with his interaction with fellow church members and his willingness to serve others. In addition, Youth I.S. is working very hard to complete the goals on his service plan. He has completed life, social and employability goals, has applied for several jobs, and will soon complete his vocational certification.     


Detention Center Hosts African American Club of Pasco


Pasco RJDC African American ClubPasco Regional Juvenile Detention Center was pleased to host the African American Club of Pasco County, whose message is to educate, enlighten and empower young people. The gentleman spoke with the youth about military careers, how to introduce yourself, life skills, and choosing a better path of life. The gentleman shared their humble and troubled teen years to where they are now. Three of the club members who attended are veterans of the armed forces, with over 75 years of service between them. One of the other members was a former public defender with the state of Florida who now has his own successful law practice, and the last gentleman is a self-taught graphic designer. The youth were very attentive and asked many questions.


Orange RJDC youth picnicVolunteer Haley Hunt spent time with the girls mod at the Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center and had a picnic. The picnic was complete with a blanket, finger foods, music, and conversation. The girls enjoyed the company and shared stories about life and their future.







Residential Youth Participate in Equine Program

Ocala Center For Success and Independence youth with horseStudents participating in the equine program at the Center for Success and Independence – Ocala, a non-secure program for boys, operated by Youth Opportunity Investments, recently traveled to the Stirrups n’ Strides Therapeutic Riding Center in Citra. While volunteering at the center, the youth all pulled together as a team and moved a shed into an area near a paddock. The shed will now be converted into a unit to store feed for their therapy horses.

One of the first youth to participate in the equine program, Youth G., is leaving the program to return home. During his short time in the equine program, he has done well with the information and instruction he has received. He also quickly progressed to the point where he could groom his horse. During his lesson, he learned how to make sure that his horses needs where met before riding him. Youth G was taught to provide food, water, and communicate positive emotions to his equine partner making sure the horse was comfortable with him. He was also outfitted with a helmet and instructed on safety in the stall as well.




Palm Beach youth and staff on field trip to thrift shopPalm Beach Youth Academy, a secure program for boys operated by Sequel, took two youth in transition to volunteer at the Lord’s Place Thrift Shop. The money raised from the thrift shop goes toward the many programs and services provided by the Lord’s Place organization which assists with the homeless and re-entry populations. The young men supported this mission by assisting staff with testing, pricing, and stocking donated items to be sold in the thrift store. The Lord’s Place staff also shared their stories of past experiences with the legal system and how the Lord’s Place provided support to them in their journey to stay on the right path. They are an example to our young men that past mistakes do not have to define one’s future. The young men had a great time giving back to the community, and they look forward to future service projects with this amazing organization!




Prevention Staff Attend Summer Showcase

Delinquency Prevention Specialist Saba Shariat-Pearce and Prevention Services Contract Monitor Onazina Washington recently participated in the Boys and Girls Club of Taylor County Summer Showcase in Perry. The Boys and Girls Club of Taylor County is a DJJ Prevention provider.

At the showcase, youth of all ages practiced in different music and dance acts which culminated in an excellent performance in front of their parents, guardians, and other interested guests.

Among the music that entertained the audience, the toddlers performed “Baby Shark,” and the teens performed “the Wobble” and a dance track by New Edition.

With close to 100 people in attendance, this event was a wonderful way to celebrate the end of summer.

Prevention staff at summer showcase
Pictured above (from left to right): DJJ Delinquency Prevention Specialist Saba Shariat; Boys and Girls Club of Taylor Co., Program Manager, Emily Ketring; Director Teresa Compton; AmeriCorps Program Director Meridith Anderson; and DJJ Prevention Services Contract Monitor Onazina Washington.

One Voice Mentoring Youth Summer CampThe DJJ Offices of Prevention and Probation, along with the Circuit 2 Advisory Board (CAB), recently attended the 2019 One Voice Mentoring Youth Summer Camp at the Northside Community Center in Tallahassee.

Over 150 youth from local Prevention and Probation programs participated in the summer camp, which was organized by the Circuit 2 CAB One Voice Mentoring Program, and the Offices of Prevention and Probation with a goal to address juvenile delinquency in a positive way.

Speakers included entrepreneur and motivational speaker Kent ”KO” Osbourne, author and speaker Marvin “Merv” Mattair, Gadsden County Judge Kathy Garner, Leon County Judge Augustus D. Aikens, Jr, Prevention Assistant Secretary Alice Sims, and Circuit 2 Circuit Advisory Board Chair Donnie Read.

The youth who participated had the opportunity to engage in a variety of events including Straight Talk sessions, where youth were divided by age and given the opportunity to have supervised conversations on issues that they face. Youth participated in various outdoor events and enjoyed the live entertainment, and also had the opportunity to participate in a “Law in Your Community Presentation” with the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE), where they learned the importance of knowing and abiding by the law.

Special thank you to the entire planning team that made the event a success: Reform Specialist Brittany Condry, Chief Probation Officer Rico Cooper, Budget Specialist/Federal Liaison Jashett Omeally, Circuit 2 CAB Faith Representative Ernie Sims, DISC Village staff Cedrick Jones, as well as DJJ staff that volunteered to assist. The event was made possible by donors and partners including: the Northside Community Center, Pepsi Co, NOBLE, Ernie Sims Big Hits Foundation, Visit Tallahassee and Wildwood Church.

DJJ staff at trainingDelinquency Prevention Specialist Audrey “Pat” McGhee and  Statewide Circuit Advisory Board (CAB) Coordinator Tina Levene recently participated in the Understanding Implicit Bias Training in Tampa.

The training was conducted by Circuit 9 CAB Chair Tekoa Pouerie and Resource Development Director of Thirteenth Judicial Court Monica Martinez. There was a total of 35 people in attendance, including representatives from the courts, the Public Defender’s Office, Department of Corrections, PACE Center for Girls, BAYS Florida, and DJJ staff.

Included in the training were videos of examples of implicit bias and group exercises that engaged the participants. Implicit bias training helps people recognize and observe their own biases and establish how best to overcome such prejudices. It also addressed how implicit bias can have significant influence on the outcome of interactions between youth and the juvenile justice system.

The training was provided through a collaboration of the Hillsborough County State Attorney’s Office, the 13th Judicial Circuit Administrative Office of the Courts, Circuit 9 Advisory Board and the Office of Prevention and Victim Services.

AS Alice Sims and Pineview Principal Carmen ConnerThe Florida Council on Crime and Delinquency (FCCD) recently donated funds to Pineview Elementary School in Tallahassee to purchase accelerated reading books to students. Assistant Secretary for Prevention Alice Sims, who also serves on the FCCD, presented the check to Principal Carmen Conner to purchase the books for their media center.

Assistant Secretary Sims also recognized Mrs. Conner and Pineview Elementary School with a “Heartbeat in the Community Award” for the 2018-2019 school term. Under Principal Conner’s guidance and leadership, Pineview Elementary School, which serves students that are at-risk, progressed from an F to a C school in one year.