Welcome to the new DJJ Website!
Find out how to use the new site.

Secretary's Message

October 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




Staff Announcements and Kudos

randy agertonCongratulations to Systems Project Analyst Randy Agerton for being recognized as the Information Technology (IT) Employee of the Month for September 2019!  Each month, IT recognizes one of its members using a peer nomination process.  Being nominated by their peers speaks volumes to the employee’s work ethic and dedication to the agency.  Great job Randy!










jalesa carzellCongratulations to Jalesa Carzell from Collier Regional Juvenile Detention Center who successfully completed the 40-hour Detention Services Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) class and passed the certification exam to become the Department’s first certified Registered Behavioral Technician Officer. The credential of RBT comes from the Behavioral Analyst Certification Board (BACB) which is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies. RBTs in Detention will be in charge of the Behavior Management System (BMS) at their centers and positive changes in the lives of the youth we serve.







robert bassConstruction Project Consultant Robert Bass  was recognized recently by Detention Services for doing an amazing job coordinating the renovation, rebuild and construction of Bay Regional Juvenile Detention Center. The facility sustained substantial damage from Hurricane Michael. Mr. Bass went above and beyond his duties to coordinate vendors and sub-contractors to rebuild the facility. His professional approach, diligence, fantastic attitude and willing disposition made a daunting task very easy. Thank you, for your hard work and dedication in assisting the efforts to reopen Bay Juvenile Detention Center in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael.





certified jpo's and screenersCongratulations to the newest class of certified juvenile probation officers and screeners: Loni Gibson, Monica Louis-Jeune and Naomi Ulysse. The group successfully completed Protective Action Response (PAR) verbal, physical intervention techniques and have successfully passed the PAR written exam.  They have accomplished another step on their DJJ journey of providing excellent service to the youth, families and their surrounding communities. 


Moving Ceremony Held for Detention Officer Graduates

graduation speech by david perryCongratulations to the newest class of juvenile justice detention officers who were recently honored at a graduation took place at the Florida Public Safety Institute. The ceremony celebrated the success of twelve graduates.  The keynote speaker for the event was Secretary Simone Marstiller. Captain Gabrielle Mashburn from the Leon Regional Juvenile Detention Center delivered the closing remarks. Class President Corporal David Perry from Escambia Detention provided class reflections and delivered a very heartful and purpose-driven speech entitled “For the Youth, For the Future”. His speech truly inspired all in attendance and is available in full to read here.

jdo class 148Class # 148 Motto: “For the Youth…For the Future”

Bryan Byfield                                     St. Lucie Detention

Kristopher Caldwell                         Escambia Detention

Christopher Cobb                             Leon Detention

Michael Douglas                               Leon Detention

Anyessa Franklin                              Collier Detention

William Gorday                                 Escambia Detention

Rhonda Hoke                                     Okaloosa Detention

Angela McCaskill                               Leon Detention

Steve McGriff, Jr.                             Leon Detention

Kalese Mitchell                                  Okaloosa Detention

David Perry                                         Escambia Detention

Jasmine Roan                                     Leon Detention

James Stokes                                     Escambia Detention

Nigel Styles                                        Escambia Detention

Christania Sylla                                 Monroe Detention

Montrel Turrentine                         Escambia Detention

Charles Ulrick                                    St. Lucie Detention

Richard Vanderhoof                        Monroe Detention

Erin Wint                                           Leon Detention


Detention Center Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

sergeant leslie davilaThe Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center, in partnership with Orange County Public Schools, celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month. Dr. Renee Williams of the Orange County Public Schools organized the event which included Hispanic food, Zumba, and discussions about influential Hispanic figures in American society, government and culture.  Special guests included Deacon Manny Garcia, Zumba Instructor Treva McGowan, and Sergeant Leslie Davila with the US Army. 




knights of columbus pinellasThe Knights of Columbus in Pinellas County recently assisted Pinellas Regional Juvenile  Detention Center by providing their skilled volunteers who hung doors, and primed and painted the B3 mod. Once complete, the B3 mod will be the honors mod. Thank you Aaron Trehern and crew for your continued support of Pinellas RJDC.






volunteer with orange youthMs. Haley Hunt, nationally renowned speaker, ambassador, and singer-songwriter has volunteered at the Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center for the past year on a weekly basis. Ms. Hunt recently stopped by the center to play board and card games with the girls night. She assisted them in doing their nails and spoke with them about their life and goals.






Anchorage Children’s Home Recovers from Hurricane Michael Devastation

youth at chorage childrens home

Anchorage Children’s Home in Panama City, part of the Florida Network of Youth and Family Services and a DJJ CINS/FINS provider, was recently featured on a nationally televised broadcast of the Today Show.

Exactly one year after Hurricane Michael devastated the Anchorage Children’s Home, the NBC Today show broadcasted a story of the relief, recovery,  and rebuilding of the shelter.

Anchorage is located in Bay County and serves as a haven for hard to place teens who had suffered abuse or severe neglect in the surrounding area. Anchorage was conceived to meet a critical need of those who no one else would serve. This culture of compassion and community partnership continues in Anchorage's services today.

Since the storm, the team has rebuilt the facility to provide a safe place for youth in a community still desperately trying to recover. Anchorage also serves homeless youth who ran away, were thrown out, or at-risk due to their family life.

Anchorage continues to provide a continuum of care for at-risk and abused and neglected children, youth and their families, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week through screening, assessment, case management and counseling, basic shelter, and nonresidential aftercare services. From its humble beginning in 1983 to its present success as a nationally accredited service provider, Anchorage maintains a culture of caring that makes the difference in the lives of children, youth and their families.

Eight months after the hurricane struck, the non-stop efforts of dedicated staff and work crews have restored the facility to its former condition. To watch the full Today story, go to  https://www.today.com/video/panama-city-youth-homeless-shelter-rebuilt-after-hurricane-michael-70984261869.



JoAnn Bridges Youth Prepare for Standardized Tests and Future Careers

joann bridges muralThe stakes were high at JoAnn Bridges Academy, a non-secure program for girls operated by Rite of Passage. Students were preparing to take the Florida Standards Assessment English Language Arts, more commonly known as the FSA ELA. A passing score is required of Florida high school students to graduate with a diploma.  With so much on the line, students often experience high anxiety and stress about the test, but not at JoAnn Bridges Academy. 

To assist with test preparation, JoAnn Bridges Academy educators invited Dr. Barbara Pettiford, testing coordinator for Madison County School District, to speak with the students. Dr. Pettiford shared five key test-taking tips and a video about online testing.  To further reduce anxiety, she divided the young women into four groups and invited each to write down as many encouraging words they could think of. The students then learned a singing skit that outlined test-taking strategies to the tune of "Old Town Road."

FSA ELA testing day passed without incident and weeks later when the students received their scores, their hard work and Dr. Pettiford's tips paid off.  Two JoAnn Bridges Academy students received letters from Governor Ron DeSantis congratulating them on their performance on the 2019 Florida Statewide Assessment.  These students, as well as others with academic achievements, positive attitudes, and outstanding citizenship, were recognized in the JoAnn Bridges Academy Jewel Ceremony.

nursing stock photoAlso at JoAnn Bridges Academy, five young women are currently enrolled in the Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) program. In addition to classroom instruction, the school educators hosted Registered Nurse DeShala Frazier to speak with the students about her experiences in the healthcare field.   Mrs. Frazier taught nursing classes at North Florida Community College and currently works as a clinical nurse.  She also shared her life story, including the difficult times she weathered as a teenager. Nurse Frazier provided students with information about nursing careers and the many opportunities available. 

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for certified nursing assistants is estimated to increase by 18% by 2024, faster than nearly every other job.  This translates to a need for 300,000 additional CNAs to meet market needs.  At JoAnn Bridges Academy, the CNA program was selected due to the abundant opportunities that the training brings. 


forklift safety exerciseThanks to funding through the Department of Education, Melbourne Center for Personal Growth, a non-secure program for boys, operated by AMIkids, will be able to take five youth per quarter to Orlando for Forklift Safety Certification at American Forklift Rental & Training.  The certification is good for 3-years and will help youth from Melbourne Center for Personal Growth get a profitable job. AMIkids is also partnering with Classic Wood Flooring to provide youth with additional forklift practice. The first class to take the training was September 25th  and the program looks forward to the next class in December.




nature project gainesvilleThe youth at Tampa Residential Facility, a secure facility for boys, operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, recently completed a monthly workout challenge. The youth were challenged to complete 50 different workout activities during a month. Staff members monitored and verified that the youth completed each activity. Activities included push-ups, squat jumps, sit-ups, pull-ups, planks, sprints, and more. Youth who turned their completed challenge sheet in to the Recreation Therapist Maria Todaro at the end of the month received a prize. Five youth successfully completed the entire 50 workout challenge and many more challenged themselves and came close.

Every month the youth will compete in a different fitness-related challenge to encourage their focus on improving their physical health and wellness in a fun way.


orvando freeman in magazineThe City Magazine of Saint Augustine- Social Change Makers- October/November, selected St. John’s Youth Academy Facility Administrator Orvando Freeman to be featured in the magazine. In the article, Mr. Freeman shared his journey and how he has had the opportunity to impact and help change the lives of adjudicated youth.  As the Facility Administrator at St. John’s Youth Academy, a secure program for boys operated by Sequel, he has been an advocate for youth and has enlisted many groups and organizations to assist in the facility’s goal of changing lives. We applaud him for this acknowledgment and his awesome work. Below is the link to the complete article.https://www.staugustinesocial.com/changing-young-lives-with-orvando-freeman-of-st-johns-youth-academy/


Circuit 8 Probation Adopts Gainesville Area Park

adopt a park signCircuit 8 Probation, through their partnership with the City of Gainesville Parks and Recreation, participated in the first Bivens Arm Nature Park Project in Gainesville. Twenty-five youth and twenty staff volunteered at this event. This was a great community effort with other agencies also participating: BAYS-JDAP (Prevention/Diversion), Alachua Academy (Residential), AMI (Day Treatment), the Gainesville Police Department (GPD), and Keep Alachua Beautiful.  This event highlighted the partnerships that exist in Circuit 8 and how much the community is invested in turning around the lives of the youth that we serve.  This event also served as a history lesson on the park and an environmental study on how to reduce and prevent pollution.  More than 100 lbs. of trash were removed from the park just on this day alone!  

After the park clean-up, Circuit 8 staff assisted Gainesville Police Department during the University of Florida Homecoming Parade.  Staff provided parade detail support to GPD, which is another example of the amazing partnership that exists between DJJ and law enforcement in the 8th Circuit.



national night out boothPrevention Specialist Audrey “Pat” McGhee and Reform Specialist Adrienne Conwell hosted a resource table at the St. Petersburg National Night Out, an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make neighborhoods safer.  There was a wide array of vendors and agencies participating and providing information on their business or organization.  DJJ disseminated a variety of family engagement brochures in addition to networking with other organizations and developing ways to collaborate.







Linda Tapia,  Recruiter, St. Lucie Public Schools Manual Rubio, Counselor, Pace Center for GirlsCircuit 19 Assistant Chief Probation Officer Dorothy Malik attended the inaugural Parent Information and Educational Resources Fair hosted by the St. Lucie County School District and the Migrant Education Program. Assistant Chief Probation Officer Malik spoke with community members about DJJ initiatives and reforms, including raising awareness of human trafficking in their community.






The Central Region Probation Advisory Team (PAT) members held their quarterly meeting with Regional Director Cathy Lake in Bartow. Representatives from every circuit and the regional office participated in the meeting to discuss completed and on-going statewide PAT action items as well as new items presented by the circuits. Dennis McKinney from Circuit 13 graciously handled the subcommittee for all things Juvenile Justice Information System-related. It was a great opportunity for the circuit representatives to share their concerns, suggestions and new ideas with the regional director. Everyone enjoyed a working lunch of Domino’s Pizza except for those that opted to bring their lunch!


PAT members group photo
Pictured above (from left to right): Back row: James Mitchell (C18), Connie Coffey (Region), Jean Hand (C9), Tonya Brown (C 12), Heather Ferrara (C 12), Frank Donnelly (Region), Norman Sherrod (C9), Irma Meldendez (C9 – hiding), Dennis McKinney (C13) and Kandy Avery (C 18) Front row: RD Cathy Lake, Maura Lashley (Region), Amy Stiles (C10), Mary Anne Nichol (C12), Tricia Alvarez (C6), Irene Jacusis (C6), Kathi Beckford (C10), Stephanie Floyd (C10) and Marian Epps (C13) 


amikids youth outside of school busYouth from AMIkids Clay County recently attended a Jacksonville Jaguars game as guests in the Jaguar “Honor Rows” section. Students were joined by their parents and staff to enjoy the game!







youth volunteers at national night outYouth from AMIkids Orlando recently volunteered at the City of Apopka Police Department’s annual National Night Out. This unique crime prevention event engaged numerous neighborhood organizations and neighborhood watch groups to participate and promote safe neighborhoods.








volunteers at community kitchenStudents from AMIkids Greater Ft. Lauderdale recently volunteered at a Broward Partnership kitchen. The Broward Partnership was founded in 1999 to help individuals and families find their way back from homelessness. The students helped prepare and serve more than 100 meals to the homeless.