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Secretary's Message

September 25, 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



This week Team DJJ launched a school threats awareness campaign aimed at addressing school threats made by students in Florida. The “It’s No Joke” campaign aims to dissuade youth from making school threats, because doing so can lead to being arrested and charged with a felony.

“We want young people in Florida to understand that, in today’s environment, every threat is taken very seriously and, even if made in jest, can lead to devastating consequences,” said DJJ Secretary Simone Marstiller. “There is nothing funny about threatening a school, and there is nothing funny about being charged with a felony.  We want young people to think twice before casually threatening violence in their schools.” 

School related offenses include making false reports concerning a bomb, explosives, or firearms and possessing or discharging weapons or firearms on school property or a school-sponsored event. The “It’s No Joke” awareness campaign seeks to educate youth and parents that even threats made online, including on social media and gaming sites, can lead to a youth being charged with a felony offense. 

Youth, parents, and teachers are also encouraged to report any and all threats they see or hear. They can notify law enforcement of a threat or can report a threat anonymously through Florida’s FortifyFL app, a suspicious activity reporting tool that allows you to instantly relay information to appropriate law enforcement agencies and school officials.

“Our top priority is the safety and security of students and teachers,” said Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran. “It is critical that students take threats very seriously and report suspicious activity. I encourage all students and educators to download the FortifyFL app to report potentially unsafe situations, which could prevent a tragedy.”

The number of Florida youth charged with school threat related offenses has risen steadily in the last three years. In Fiscal Year 2016-2017, 629 youth were charged with school threat related offenses, followed by 687 youth in Fiscal Year 2017-2018, and 779 youth in Fiscal Year 2018-2019. The following link has additional information regarding this campaign: http://www.djj.state.fl.us/news/awareness-campaigns/school-threats




 Staff Announcements and Kudos

jpo spotlight winnersRecently two Senior Juvenile Probations Officers (JPO)were honored as Circuit 6 JPO Spotlight of 2019 by Eckerd Project Bridge.

Senior JPO Kim Myers was honored as C6 JPO Spotlight of 2019  by Eckerd Project Bridge.  She truly enjoys helping people when they really need it most; sometimes it works, which she loves, and sometimes it doesn’t, but she knows in the end she tried. The Eckerd Project Bridge team selected Sr. JPO Myers because she is a constant support for the youth, their families, and the Project Bridge team.  Communication is a strong point of hers.

Senior JPO Loredana McKenzie was also honored as C6 JPO Spotlight of 2019 by Eckerd Project Bridge.  She was acknowledged for supporting the youth on her caseload and letting the youth know, that though they have made mistakes she will continue to be in their corner through their ups and downs and to help them succeed in whatever they want to do, or who they want to become. The Eckerd Project Bridge team selected Sr. JPO McKenzie because they can count on her to always have the best interest of the youth and their families at the forefront.

Luis Cibrian, Systems Project Analyst.Congratulations to Luis Cibrian and Jose Rodriguez 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 the Department.  Congratulations to you both for this deserving award!

it staff rodriguez









Sandra FlamentDetention recently held a retirement luncheon at the Olive Garden for Staff Assistant Sandra Flament.  Sandra gave over 30 years of dedicated service to Team DJJ. Her final day will be September 30th.

We wish Sandra the very best In the next chapter of her life. Congratulations on your accomplishment!








Mr. Fisher receiving awardManatee Regional Juvenile Detention Center (MRJDC) proudly honored "Food Support Service" Employee of the Quarter, Chris Fisher.

Mr. Fisher has been an employee with the Department for 2 1/2 years.  During his tenure with the Department, Chris has been a great asset. Congratulations, Chris!









detention hq staffCongratulations to Kiva Hagans Detention Services HQ Employee of the Month. Kiva is a statewide trainer and visits all the Detention centers as well as the Head Quarters office, training the staff in different areas. Kiva has done a great job working for the Department and excels in her duties. Congratulations Kiva!





EOM TimmonsPlease join me in congratulating the September 2019 Employee of the Month at Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center, Corporal Webster Timmons

Corporal Timmons is a dependable juvenile detention officer that takes the time to mentor new officers, has a great rapport with the youth and has volunteered to work additional shifts to cover staffing vacancies.

Thank you, Corporal Timmons, for your dedication and congratulations on your award!






EOM FergersonPlease join me in congratulating Captain Douglas Fergerson as the Central Region Employee of the Month.  During the month of July, then Sergeant Douglas Fergerson assisted the Orange Regional Juvenile Detention both as a supervisor and in the role of Acting Captain. 


Captain Fergerson showed great initiative learning new tasks to assist Orange, painting on the B5 Honors Mod, and going above and beyond to assist both administration and working on the floor to assist in the day-to-day functions.  Thank you for your hard work and leadership, Captain Fergerson!





Orange Regional Detention Center Celebrates Good Behavior

ORJDC volunteers serving foodTammy Druely with Community Alliance, retired educator Valerie Maxwell, and retired Judge Mrs. Maura Smith helped celebrate level three B5 and G1 at Orange Regional Detention Center by serving chicken wings, tater tots, oranges and soda followed by ice cream with a choice of lemon meringue, key lime or Oreo pie and ice cream.










AMIkids Host White Water Rafting and Rappelling Challenge

ami youth raftingAMIkids hosted their annual White Water Rafting & Rappelling Challenge Event last week in North Carolina. Youth and staff from AMIkids Tampa, AMIkids Pinellas, and AMIkids Miami-Dade South joined other AMIkids schools as they rappelled down a 75 ft. rock face and rafted down the Nantahala River near the Nantahala Outdoor Center all week.

In addition, youth wrote and performed skits depicting significant historical events in Native American culture, as well as penning essays describing significant events of the same subject.



first aid hero logoA Circuit 18 Probation youth received praise from the Brevard County Emergency Medical Services on September 11 having assisted in saving a man’s life.  E.C.  who is 18 years old just began a new job at a Speedway Gas and Convenience in Brevard County. While still in his training phase at the store an elderly man and his young grandson entered the store and purchased hotdogs. 

The elderly man began to eat his hotdog and began choking. E.C. attempted the Heimlich Maneuver and told another employee to call 911.  E.C.  called for the store manager who was in the back office and who came to remove the young child from the scene.  Unable to dislodge the hotdog piece by Heimlich Maneuver, the man began to go into distress.  E.C. helped him to the ground and placed the man on his side.  The other store employee told E.C. to begin CPR, but E.C. indicated the man had a partially open airway that CPR was not necessary at that time.

After EMS arrived to the store, the man’s condition deteriorated, and he lost that partial airway. EMS initiated CPR at that time and were able to dislodge the bite of hotdog. After they transferred the man to the hospital, EMS returned to the store to thank E.C. and told him that had it not been for his quick thinking and action the man may not have survived.

Senior Juvenile Probation Officer Susan Coufman has since spoken to E.C. and he said it was a bit unnerving but expressed he has an interest in the medical field and had just recently signed up for classes to become an LPN. 


residential youth practicing ju jitsuYouth from AMIkids Jacksonville recently had the awesome experience of an introductory course in Jujitsu by Al Marshall of Bilalian Ryu Jujitsu, an acclaimed international expert in the art! The kids learned basic techniques and pressure points. Everyone who had the opportunity to participate had an amazing time and loved the activity!







ami miami at marlins gameYouth and staff from AMIkids Miami-Dade North participated in a recent South Florida Cares Mentoring event at the Miami Marlins stadium. As a partner, they were allowed full access, including on-field access pregame!





youth leaders at leadership ceremonyYouth leaders throughout Central Florida (Circuits 12, 6, and 13 represented) gathered to be honored in the Eckerd Connects Project Bridge Leadership ceremony this week, hosted by community partner GTE Federal Credit Union in Tampa.

Each youth leader was nominated because they exemplified leadership qualities in the areas of goal attainment, service to their community, and a vision for using their lives to impact their world.

Congratulations young leaders and thank you to all who made this ceremony possible!



project bridge youth victorEvery young person is different and has a unique set of barriers, which is why the Project Bridge team specializes in meeting each and every youth where they are in order to help them accomplish their goals.

Victor is a prime example of these individualized services, as the location of his residence and the hours he spends working did not allow him to attend school in a public setting. One of the teachers, Mr. Baron Brown, did not let these barriers stop him from providing classes to Victor. He scheduled class times to fit Victor's needs and drove to see him regularly until he was able to successfully earn his diploma as the newest graduate of 2019!

Young Victor has high aspirations, as he desires to continue working in the field of horticulture and enroll in a trade school to become certified in the field of Heating and Air Conditioning. Victor is even scheduled to be honored as one of Project Bridge's Super Stars in the upcoming awards banquet in October! Congratulations, Victor!

eckerd youth with wellbuilt bikesEvery member of a community plays an important role in the lives of young people and the team with Eckerd Connects Project Bridge is thankful to have Jon Dengler with WellBuilt Bikes in Tampa as a part of the community.

Project Bridge and WellBuilt have partnered together in the effort to eliminate transportation barriers for youth who are striving to get to and from school and work throughout Circuits 6, 12, and 13. One young person a month who is making efforts to meet educational and vocational goals will receive a bicycle as a result of this partnership as well as having the opportunity to learn to give back by volunteering time in learning how to refurbish bikes for other young people in need.

Jon Dengler, pictured with Eckerd Connects Project Bridge Transportation Specialist, JeanMarie Peterson in front of the WellBuilt shop, believes that lack of transportation is a formidable barrier to gainful employment. “Automobile ownership is financially difficult and often completely inaccessible to impoverished community members. Bicycle ownership is a tool that serves as a bridge to independence, employment, community-involvement and physical health for those who do not have the option to own a vehicle.”

Chris Gonzalez is the first youth to receive a WellBuilt bike in this new partnership and the Eckerd Connect Project Bridge team is thankful for the work Jon and the WellBuilt team does to bridge the gap in transportation barriers for those working toward a better future.


eckerd youth at football gameEckerd Connects Project Bridge recently partnered with Acceleration Academy to provide educational resources to the youth served. Not only has this organization been a tremendous resource educationally, they recently donated tickets to allow the team to take two youth to a football game between the Miami Dolphins and the Baltimore Ravens. The girls were all smiles as they had the chance to get away and spend the day with their case manager and take in a whole new experience.










PACE Girls Spend the Day with Kappa Xi Omega

kappa xi omega girls with pace center youthPACE Center for Girls Hillsborough recently attended a Back to School Bash in Tampa, FL.

The ladies of Kappa Xi Omega sorority spent the day at PACE Center for Girls Hillsborough for the annual Back to School Bash. The sorority’s focus is to improve the community through the continual implementation of their community service programs and by creating partnerships with organizations of similar goals and mindsets.

As a part of the festivities, the employees from Lush Cosmetics joined the sorority members to make this year’s Back to School Bash one to remember.

The girls were given facials and received personal beauty care products. The girls learned about the importance of self-care for their minds and bodies.

As a part of the day-long festivities, PACE girls and staff played bingo, trivia games and their all-time favorite, musical chairs. To close the event, girls received gift bags and school supplies. 

Residential Youth Assist in Park Clean Up

hastings youth participating in park clean upTransition Service Managers and the Recreational Therapist of Hastings Comprehensive Mental Health Treatment Facility and Gulf Academy, both non-secure programs for boys, which are operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, recently took nine youth to volunteer with the National Park Service to clean up a park.

This service project was part of the restorative justice process for the youth.  The youth who were involved enjoyed the experience and stated that it felt good to give back to their community. Giving to the community has an impact in many ways.  The youth are excited for future community service events.

palm beach youth at first responder luncheonIn memory of the September 11th, 2001 events, Palm Beach Youth Academy, a secure program for boys, which is operated by Sequel, honored the local fire department during the Annual First Responder Appreciation Day Luncheon.

The boys greeted each guest with a personalized thank you card and a smile! The young men planned and presented a program filled with original music and poetry highlighting their appreciation to the first responders. A poster presentation of original artwork by the students was also on exhibition.

The guests talked about their careers and answered questions about their daily life in the field. We shared a delicious meal and conversation! We appreciate what the local firefighters and paramedics do for the community and look forward to this event every year.


paws and hooves tasselsSaving Paws and Hooves in Central Florida is a non-profit organization dedicated to saving and helping small and large animals that are in a life or death situation and where there are no finances available for medical treatment. The goal is to be able to provide financial assistance to families that cannot afford to save their pet.

The equine program students from Center for Success and Independence - Ocala, a non-secure program for boys which is operated by Youth Opportunity Investments, took part in creating a donation for the Saving Paws and Hooves Fund Raising event.

The students are in the very beginnings of learning the leather craft. As part of the class, the equine students and staff were tasked with helping to design the leather treat bags and cell phone holders to be given to the fundraiser as auction items. The bags were cut out by Equine Assistant Mr. Sproat and sewn together in coordination with Ocala Tack and Leather. Mr. Sproat also created some gorgeous leather tassels that were a hit with everyone.

Mr. Ty Springer and Mr. Brandon Jelks of Ocala Breeder Sales gave the Equine Program four bags of their premium horse feed to enhance the program’s donation to this worthy cause. The equine program was also given a 30 lb. box of premium dog biscuits and a bag of dyna spark supplements from the Seminole Feed Store.  Mr. Dave Haught of Ocala Tack and Leather donated the leather hides the students used for the project. The Tack Shack of Ocala donated baseball caps.

As part of the classes with The Performance Equine Hospital, some of the students got the chance to meet the little horse this fundraiser is to benefit. The foal named “Wild Fire” was burned and mistreated by her last owner. The equine students were honored to be a part of our community’s efforts to help with her care and recovery.

lake academy youthOn September 11th, youth from Lake Academy, a non-secure program for girls, which is operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, attended the 2019 Community Outreach Flag Planting event at St. Petersburg College. The event, hosted by the Camaraderie Foundation, provides therapeutic services and other assistance to individuals affected by the 9/11 attack.

The Lake Academy girls were part of the tribute to military service members, veterans, law enforcement officers and firefighters on the 18th anniversary of 9/11. They helped plant more than 13,000 flags to acknowledge the thousands of post 9/11 veterans who are suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and other "invisible wounds of war."

The flagplanting was followed by a ceremony featuring guest speakers sharing stories of the effect the 9/11 attack had on them, their families, and friends.