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Secretary's Message

October 1, 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


Secretary Marstiller Speaks at Restoring Families Graduation Ceremony

secretary Marstiller speaking at resoring families graduationSecretary Simone Marstiller recently spoke at the Restoring Families graduation ceremony at the Florida Public Safety Institute in Havana.

The Restoring Families Prevention Program celebrated its second year of operation with a graduation recognizing sixty-nine youth who recently completed the program. Secretary Marstiller, along with the Honorable Judge David Frank, Gadsden Superintendent of Schools Roger Milton, and Gadsden County Sheriff Morris Young attended, with the keynote delivered by the Honorable Judge Kathy Garner. 

The Restoring Families Prevention Program is a DJJ Prevention program operated by the Gadsden County Sheriff's Office and provides effective prevention services to at-risk youth, ages 5-17, in Gadsden County. The program began as a pilot of the Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office, Gadsden County Schools, and DJJ.

The program’s goal is to divert youth away from the juvenile justice system by offering life coaching, social support groups, educational assistance, and social services to prevent juvenile delinquency with youth meeting daily with an assigned life coach.

Sheriff Morris Young raved of the program’s success while expressing his highest appreciation of DJJ in collaboration with this project to better the lives of youth in Gadsden County.

Staff Announcements and Kudos

JPO Michele Brandon EOQCongratulations to Juvenile Probation Officer (JPO) Michele Brandon for being named the Circuit 20 Employee of the Quarter. JPO Brandon has been working with the Department of Juvenile Justice since January 1989. Michele previously worked for Detention Services before transferring to the Cape Coral Probation Unit in 2016. Michele currently handles the commitment cases which includes participating in treatment team meetings, serving on the community reentry team, and conducting parent phone calls. Michele has a broad knowledge in all aspects of handling a probation caseload. Michele is a great team player as well as being a dedicated and reliable employee. Her detail-oriented skills have been commended by the Bureau of Monitoring and Quality Improvement from the South Region.





Michelle Whitehead, EOQThis month, Circuit 16 recognized Secretary Specialist Michelle Whitehead as their Employee of the Quarter. Ms. Whitehead was selected by the Probation Office staff for her dedication and willingness to assist. Congratulations Michelle!







The Juvenile Justice Detention Officer graduation ceremony took place at Broward College on September 27, 2019 and celebrated the success of 12 graduates.  The guest speaker for the event was South Region Detention Director Kevin Housel. Broward College Associate Dean John Petrone delivered the closing remarks. Congratulations to all of the graduates and welcome to the DJJ Team!

Class Motto- “Work Hard, No Quits”

broward detention staff graduates
Pictured above: Back Row (left to right) Jarrell Zimmerman (Miami Detention), Isis Julmiste (Miami Detention), Jean Josma (Miami Detention), Princess Merrifield (Miami Detention), Emerald Little (Miami Detention), Shawn Brammer (Broward Detention)

Front Row (left to right) Mark Rendel (Palm Beach Detention), Tonya Moore (Miami Detention), Diamond Haynes (Collier Detention), Shanovia Dove (Palm Beach Detention), Irijah Kanoyton (Palm Beach Detention), Zene Beaufort (Miami Detention)


Yeseul Kim provider eomCongratulations to Yeseul ‘Esther’ Kim for being named Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center (RJDC) Provider Employee of the Month. Ms. Kim recently joined the mental health provider team at the center and has made an instant impact with her organization, efficiency, and work ethic. Ms. Kim was presented with a certificate, has her picture hung in administration, and has a front-row parking spot for a month. Ms. Kim was nominated for this award by Designated Mental Health Authority Amanda McCloud and Major Adrian Mathena. Ms. Kim was presented the award by Captain Douglas Fergerson.









Circuit 5 EOM's

Pictured above (from left to right): CPO Randy Reynolds, SJPO Chris Bray, JPO Stacie Bostick, SS Linda Cheek, ACPO Lori Bright.


Congratulations to Circuit 5 Probation Employees of the Quarter Senior Juvenile Probation Officer (SJPO) Chris Bray, Juvenile Probation Officer (JPO) Stacie Bostick, and Secretary Specialist (SS) Linda Cheek.

SJPO Chris Bray, who serves in Lake County, brings strong assets to his role as a senior juvenile probation officer and not just within his unit. He is extremely organized and focused on continuously learning and developing best practices to manage staff and caseloads, both efficiently and effectively.  Chris brings positive high-energy and a personal touch to all he does.  He is a true professional in all his dealings with youth, families and staff, and genuinely cares about delivering excellent quality work and service to the families he serves.  Chris strives to integrate both an understanding of the big picture strategy and unit goals, as well as attention to details.  Lastly, SJPO Chris Bray is an excellent example of a dedicated employee who will go the extra mile to help whenever or wherever he is needed.  He is well-respected by his co-workers, the court system and the community partners. Congratulations Chris!

JPO Stacie Bostick, also from Lake County, is a very loyal employee to the Department and the youth she serves. She also is a valuable trainer to Circuit 5, providing both Detention Risk Assessment Instrument (DRAI) and Suicide Prevention training to staff as needed. She also assists with new employee job shadowing in Lake County. Stacie is very detail-oriented and deliberate in explaining policy and procedures while shadowing.  She has an excellent relationship with our stakeholders and providers and has assisted with youth transports and assists at the Juvenile Assessment Center in covering shifts when there are vacancies. Stacie remains flexible and amenable to help other staff when needed. She ensures the youth on her caseload are provided the correct services and is always accommodating and has good communication skills to meet the many courtesy supervision cases. Congratulations Stacie!

Secretary Specialist Linda Cheek serves in the Sumter County Probation Office. She has served many years as a valuable asset to Circuit 5 Probation. She provides excellent customer service and is extremely knowledgeable with Department policies and procedures. Linda assists juvenile probation officers in many aspects of their jobs, including setting appointments, court preparation assistance, and a wide variety of office administration duties. Linda always brings a smile and a laugh to each day at work. She has always been a source of consistency and her work is greatly appreciated. She is an inspiration to us all in Circuit 5. Congratulations Linda!

Team DJJ recently received an email from one of our community partners praising Circuit 6 Commitment Manager (CM) Traci Martino, who was said to have “pulled no punches” during a staffing. CM Martino was direct in explaining the protocols and procedures to both the young man and others in the meeting in easy-to-understand language. In addition, Circuit 12 Juvenile Probation Officer Nancy Holland was also praised for preparing a comprehensive pre-disposition report and for being extremely helpful, accessible and responsive. Great job Team DJJ!

Bureau of Monitoring and Quality Improvement Visits PACE Headquarters

MQI at PACE headquarters

Recently, members of the Bureau of Monitoring and Quality Improvement Team (MQI) attended a tour and presentation at the new PACE National Headquarters in Jacksonville, Florida. Staff present from the MQI Team were: Mr. Christopher Goodman, Director of Office of Program Accountability; Ms. Jennifer Bailey, Prioritization and Planning Unit Supervisor; Mr. Patrick Morse, South Regional Supervisor; Ms. Teresa Andersen, Central Region Deputy Supervisor; and Mr. Patrick McKinstry, North Region Regional Monitor. Staff present from PACE were: Ms. Glenda McClendon, Senior Director of Compliance & Risk; Ms. Heather Lovejoy, Director of Risk & Project Development; Ms. Danielle Anders, Associate Director of Regulatory Compliance; Ms. Rebecca Tisthammer, Associate Director of Operational Compliance, and Ms. Annita Kyles, Compliance Analyst. The presentation began with a safety briefing, introductions, and a tour of PACE National Headquarters. PACE National Headquarters has state of the art work space and décor for each department. During the first part of the presentation, PACE staff members described their compliance and risk strategies prior to Fiscal Year 2019/2020. The second part of the presentation PACE reviewed their projected practice moving into Fiscal Year 2019/2020. One of their goals is to be more proactive instead of reactive. The PACE team and MQI team expressed the desire to work together to make the process seamless and productive for all involved.

Probation Staff Host Suicide Prevention Open House

Suicide Awareness tabling at Circuit 16Circuit 16 Probation recently held a Suicide Prevention Awareness Open House. Westcare (Guidance Care Center) had a representative set up a table and offer information. The Monroe County Coalition provided brochures, booklets and included the event on one of their displays in the Key West Citizen. Purple and teal ribbons and stickers were distributed as a soft reminder to be observant of those around us that may be struggling and need a kind hand. The probation staff brought in a large variety of homemade cookies, muffins, and other threats to share with those that attended. 


eckerd youth learning to golfDavid Devine, a mentor with Eckerd Connects Project Bridge, has taken mentoring to a new level! David likes to engage the youth in creative, hands-on mentoring activities that they would never originally sign up for.

Pictured you can see a young mentee of David's learning how to play golf. This fun afternoon brought nothing but smiles and a new way of thinking for this young man.









Eckerd mentorsEckerd Connects Project Bridge and My Life My Power (MLMP) Preparatory Academy have partnered together to provide wrap-around mentoring and life skills sessions to the youth in Miami.

Mentors with MLMP recently had lunch with a few youth to discuss the importance of effective communication, teamwork, and creating a unified vision. The youth also had the opportunity to learn how to work toward financial sustainability as well as how to commit to goals of success by overcoming a fear mindset.


project bridge youth meet west palm beach mayorTwo Project Bridge youth had the opportunity to visit the West Palm Beach Mayor’s office. These youth learned of the trials as well as the triumphs of the County Mayor Mack Bernard leading up to his election to his current position of service. In turn, our youth felt comfortable sharing the stories that led them into the juvenile justice system and eventually into Project Bridge. They also shared their dreams with the mayor and were encouraged to pursue their dreams with the support of the Project Bridge team and the community.

Thanks to  Mayor Bernard for sharing his time and his life lessons with the youth in the Project Bridge program!



AMIkids youth at vocational trainingAMIkids Clay County is proud to share that as part of the vocational training and job placement program, one of their students has been successfully placed into a job! Chandler is 16 years old and has been in the program a little over a year. He’ll return to his local public school after the new year. Upon graduation, he plans to join the Marines.










cicuit 5 youth with awardYouth JP began services with Project Connect in February 2019 and was assigned to Circuit 5 Transition Specialist (TS) Angie Layerd.  Youth JP had completed two sections of the GED exam while in a residential commitment program. Building on that success and completing the full GED became the primary academic focus during his transition. TS Layerd personally tutored Youth JP in the remaining two sections he needed to complete to obtain his GED.  However, Youth JP fell short in the math portion of the GED by just one point.  Youth JP was so upset and disappointed with himself that he started to lose faith in his progress.  TS Layerd and Youth JP’s Juvenile probation officer Ian Harper met several times together with Youth JP to build his confidence back up.  Finally, Youth JP was ready to take on the dreaded math test again. TS Layerd transported JP to the testing site, providing a motivational speech the entire trip.  Youth JP was nervous, unsure of himself and battling a cold, but when he completed the test and talked with TS Layerd, he was sure he had passed. In fact, he had passed indeed!  Youth JP has gone on to complete all of the goals on his individual service plan and has been successfully discharged from Project Connect.  At his exit interview, TS Layerd and JPO Harper presented Youth JP with his framed GED to honor his dedication and perseverance in completing all of the goals on his transition plan.




step national day of rememberanceThe “Success Through Empowerment Program” (STEP) began its 18th group cycle and participated in their first community service event assisting with the ”National Day of Remembrance,” sponsored by the Restore Joy and Trust Foundation (RJT). This event is done annually and focuses on the victims and families who have been affected in some way by violent crime. DJJ involved youth assisted with set-up, clean-up and were active attendees /participants at the event. The night was emotionally charged and gave a great perspective to the DJJ youth from the victim perspective. Hats off to RJT for another beautiful evening in remembrance of all who have lost life due to violent crime and to the DJJ youth and staff who shined brightly.


AMIkids youth meet with representative ByrdState Representative Cord Byrd who represents District 11 recently spent time with youth at AMIkids Jacksonville. He was impressed with the alternative school model and impact on youth in the program! Thank you Representative Byrd for your support!







C7 effective practices in community supervision trainingThis past week in Circuit 7 Probation, staff attended a three-day training to kick off Phase 1 of the Effective Practices in Community Supervision (EPICS) in Volusia County. The training was conducted by Reform Specialists (RS) Donna Collins from Circuit 4 and Melanie Kretzman from Circuit 8.

The car race-themed training paid homage to the birthplace of Nascar and provided the circuit staff with a wealth of knowledge about EPICS. They left with an eagerness to begin recording sessions to continue their work of turning around the lives of troubled youth.

A special thank you to RS Kretzman and RS Collins for all their hard work throughout the EPICS Implementation in Circuit 7. The Department  greatly appreciates their sharing of knowledge, experience, and guidance!


Project Bridge youth working on career skillsImportant components of what the Project Bridge team offers youth are community-based work readiness skill sessions and job placement services that offer youth opportunity to learn every aspect of securing a job as well as learning how to work toward a career.

Pictured are Project Bridge youth participating in hands-on work readiness sessions as well as youth who have successfully been hired into part-time and full-time positions. Project Bridge  doesn’t  stop there, the team also works diligently to teach youth how to sustain employment as well as how to rise within the workforce into positions of leadership.

Circuit 5 Chief Probation Officer Randy Reynolds, Community Development Administrator for the Department of Children and Families Joelle Aboytes, Chief of Operations for the Community Based Care provider (Kids Central Inc.) Shalonda McHenry-Simms and Georgetown University Center for Juvenile Justice Reform (CJJR) Program Manager Macon Stewart worked together to provide two nationwide webinars on Understanding and Meeting the Needs of Crossover Youth.

Macon Stewart stated “On behalf of the CJJR, I want to thank Shalonda, Joelle and Randy for their work and willingness to share with others across the country.  Marion County continues to be a Model for the Model.  The commitment and dedication you three, as a team, have shown to this work, can't be matched.  There is no doubt that the work has been sustained and continues to flourish because of you three.” 



amikids youth hosting Representative Evan JenneAMIkids Greater Ft. Lauderdale had the pleasure of hosting State Representative Evan Jenne recently. Representative Jenne is a wonderful advocate for the program’s vocational training and SCUBA certification programs.







circuit 11 staff collecting donations for bahamasDue to the joint efforts of staff,  youth and their families,  Circuit 11 was able to collect, organize and donate food, clothes and toiletry items for delivery to the Bahamas. To date, several drops offs have been made throughout the Circuit. Job well done Circuit 11 for seeing a great need and jumping in quickly to assist!








circuit 6 probation officers resource tableCircuit 6 Juvenile Probation Officers Justine Hagans, Emily Rodgers, and Leia Thomas recently hosted a resource table at the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office Community Service Fair. The fair provided a wide array of community resources to those in the child welfare agency.  This gave the Department of Juvenile Justice the opportunity to provide awareness and educational information as it relates to DJJ as well as network and develop relationships.





DJJ Staff Participate in Community Cleanup in Circuit 14

djj staff assisting with continued hurricane michael cleanupDJJ staff recently provided cleanup assistance for two residents in Bay County still recovering from Hurricane Michael.

Nearly one year to the day after Hurricane Michael ravaged the Florida Panhandle, 20 DJJ team members from Headquarters and 10 more from Circuit 14 joined forces to clean homes, cut lawns, pull weeds, and wash dishes.

They hauled yard debris, vacuumed carpets, trimmed hedges, cleaned bathtubs, dusted indoor furniture, painted outdoor porch furniture, planted flowers and beautified two homes.

Among DJJ team members on the work site were Deputy Secretary Tim Niermann, Prevention Assistant Secretary Alice Sims, Circuit 14 Chief Probation Officer Fred Womack, and Prevention Policy Chief Marcus Smith.

DJJ staff partnered with the groups Rebuild Bay County, a long-term recovery organization, and Mission850, a faith-based volunteer initiative, for their cleanup efforts.

For six hours, they braved temperatures above 90 degrees, heat and humidity. But in the end, it all was worthwhile. Satisfied homeowner, Thelma Faison, hugged volunteers to show her appreciation as they completed their workday.

Mission850 provided tools, work gloves, funds for flowers, potting mulch, paint brushes, cleaning products, shower rings and curtain, and trim line replacement cords for the weed eater.


Circuit 6 Probation Reform Specialist Adrienne Conwell & Prevention Specialist Audrey "Pat" McGhee recently partnered with the St. Petersburg College Center for Public Safety to host its 5th Salon Talk event. Salon Talk is a human trafficking training workshop designed to raise awareness of trafficking related to the beauty salon industry and the business community at large.  Approximately 64 attendees obtained valuable introductory information from a veteran investigator from Homeland Security Investigations, followed by a panel discussion which featured experts in the subject of human trafficking, including DJJ's Director of Human Trafficking Intervention Katherine Gomez and Statewide Circuit Advisory Board Coordinator Tina Levene. A human trafficking survivor shared her story and a Corporal from the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office concluded with a Call to Action.  Channel 10 News captured the highlights of this successful event. Circuit 6 Anti-Human Trafficking Liaison Christina Banks provided additional support in the organization of the event and Sunshine Health provided lunch.


staff at salon talk event
Pictured above (from left to right): DJJ Prevention Specialist Audrey "Pat" McGhee, Circuit 6 Anti-Human Trafficking Liaison Christina Banks, Director of Human Trafficking Intervention Katherine Gomez, Circuit 6 Reform Specialist Adrienne Conwell, and Statewide Circuit Advisory Board Coordinator Tina Levene



Tampa Bay Buccaneers Visit Hillsborough Detention Center

tampa bay buccaneersPlayers from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers recently visited the kids at Hillsborough Juvenile Detention Center for a fun filled day. The players, Bucs owner, and community outreach personnel provided lunch, had a Q&A session, and coordinated football drills with all the youth. Their visit was a great success and the kids enjoyed interacting with the players who also enjoyed their time with the youth.

Thank you to Freddy Barton and the rest of the Hillsborough Detention Center Advisory Board for coordinating this event!





job fair contributors at browardBroward Regional Juvenile Detention Center in collaboration with Broward County Schools invited local businesses to the center to conduct a job fair. Representatives from the participating businesses conducted interviews with the youth and provided presentations on how to prepare for the workforce once they are released from detention.





broward chic fil a interviewsBroward Regional Juvenile Detention Center also recently partnered with Broward County Schools to invite representatives from Chick-fil-a to conduct interviews. Chick-fil-a provided snacks for the level 3 youth which included a chicken sandwich, chips, and cookies. This was a great opportunity for the youth to explore different career opportunities when they are released from detention. 







palm beach youth holding shoe designsStaff from the Palm Beach Regional Detention Center wanted to engage the youth in a pro-social activity which promoted creativity, communication, and team work. Staff came up with Design-A-Sneaker idea which allowed each participant to create and market their sneaker to a captive audience of their fellow peers and staff. In the beginning, the youth thought it was a silly idea, however, as they began the project everyone joined in and did a great job.  Each participant was given a choice of five colors and as a team, each mod chose which shoe they would like to design. B1 chose the RETRO 6’s and B2 chose the RETRO 7’s. All involved were given a timeframe as if working with the NIKE Design team with a deadline to meet.

With 10 minutes remaining to the deadline, staff observed the youth helping one another to finish their designs. The next step in this project will be for the youth to create a jingle for their advertisement and to present their finished products.


palm beach youth celebrating her birthdayThe Palm Beach RJDC also recently celebrated the birthday of a young lady that has made a complete turnaround since arriving at the detention center. She follows all of the Department rules and regulations and is currently a level 3 youth. B-shift supervisors and staff wanted to commend her and decided to make this small gesture to show her that she is cared about. The entire shift sung Happy Birthday and got approval to purchase a pizza and wings for her. This young lady enjoyed her birthday celebration and all the while smiled from ear to ear with appreciation.  









palm beach staff working donation drivePalm Beach Regional Juvenile Detention Canter also served as a donation site for DJJ staff to donate non-perishable items for Bahamian survivors of Hurricane Dorian. Palm Beach RJDC collaborated with the City of Rivera who accepted all of the donations and has agreed to ship them out to the survivors still in Bahamas. Staff from Circuit 15 collected clothes, water, wipes, diapers, cereal, juices and other items to show DJJ cares.





magic mentoringThe Junior League of Greater Orlando’s Mentoring Adolescent Girls to Inspire Change (MAGIC) volunteers recently spent time with the girls at the Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center.  Volunteers included Brianna Bladen, Jennifer Funk, Mary Sarah Johnson, Ashley Wright, Kiera Sullivan, Vaness Nikki, Maria Zuckerman, Annette Gubert, Brittani Hall, Earlene Spense, and Ines Lower.  The event consisted of introductions and a discussion about how each person felt about themselves inside and out, one word to describe their personality, and future plans. The event also featured Jason’s Deli sandwiches, chips, lemonade and cookies.


Residential Youth Participate in a Mural Project

pompano youth painting muralRecently, youth at Pompano Youth Treatment Center, a non-secure program for boys, operated by Sequel TSI, partnered with Arts4All Florida on a mural project. Broward County Public Schools was able to secure a vocational artist to provide services to the youth at Pompano Youth Treatment Center.  The artist has committed to providing art services to the program once a week for eight weeks. The boys decided that the dorm room hallway needed a facelift and the artist has greatly assisted the boys in this artistic endeavor.  Ultimately, the goal of Arts4All Florida program is to increase student achievement in and through the arts. Overall, the boys really enjoy their time with the artist and some have found a new hobby.






csi youthRecently at Center for Success and Independence - Ocala, a non-secure program for boys operated by Youth Opportunity Investments, youth participating in the equine program traveled to the Ocala Breeder Sales Feed Mill for the equine nutrition portion of their program. The community hosts for this activity were the facilities General Manager Ty Springer and Assistant Production Manager Brandon Jelks. During the outing, the youth were given a question and answer style lecture on the equine feed business and the requirements of the type of management skills needed to run a business. During the lecture, the hosts stressed the importance of being on time for work, cleanliness, safety around heavy equipment and putting your full attention on the job you are being paid to do.

While touring the facility, the youth were shown the train rail cars that bring in the grains used to make the feed. The economics of how the price of fuel can affect the price of the feed being sold to farms was also discussed. The youth were shown the working robot that assists their employees with stacking the feed on pallets.  Mr. Springer demonstrated to our youth the equine industry has many job opportunities, from the design of feed bags, to the mechanics of keeping their trucks on the road, to customer service.


cypress youth honor roll celebrationThe education team at Cypress Creek JOCC, a secure program for boys operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, held an honor roll party for the youth that received As and Bs during the semester. The youth were rewarded for their hard work by participating in games,  winning prizes, enjoying delicious Chinese food, and listening to music. The education staff believe one of the things they can do while a youth is in residential care is to encourage them to be productive in school and to appreciate the opportunity to receive an education.




csi ocala youth graduationThe youth and staff at Center for Success and Independence - Ocala, a non-secure program, operated by Youth Opportunity Investments, celebrated the high school graduation of one of their youth. Graduation day brings a roller coaster of emotions for the youth.  This was especially true for youth L. and his family. In celebration of this huge achievement, youth L. delivered a heartfelt speech to the entire audience. Watching her son deliver a speech that opened everyone’s mind and touched hearts brought youth L.’s mom to tears. He stated in his speech that he learned “The richest place in the whole world isn’t around the world, but it’s the graveyard. Because so many talents, gifts, and dreams have been buried without ever being seen or heard.” The staff and education department at Center for Success and Independence - Ocala wish the best for youth L.!