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Secretary's Message

June 17, 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.

Sincerely, 

Secretary Simone Marstiller

 


 

Staff Announcements and Kudos

Congratulations to JDO Jenise Benjamin with the Miami RJDC for her 30 years of service.Congratulations to Juvenile Detention Officer (JDO) Jenise Benjamin with the Miami Regional Juvenile Detention Center (RJDC) for her 30 years of service with the Department and the state of Florida. The detention center honored JDO Benjamin with a breakfast at the facility and her family members and colleagues were on hand to celebrate this milestone. JPO Benjamin has been a dedicated employee working in both residential and detention services during her tenure. The Miami Regional Juvenile Detention Center would like to thank her for her service and wish her many more productive years with the Department.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Congratulations to Juvenile Probation Officer (JPO) Marco Schirato and JPO Trish Alvarez who recently became certified NOVA Crisis Response Team members. They completed a 40-hour class at St. Petersburg College and received certificates of completion. They are on the active list now for crisis response throughout the United States and could be called to assist at any time.

Trish Alvarez Instructor Beth Rossman, and Marco Shirato.
Pictured above (from left to right): Trish Alvarez,
Instructor
Beth Rossman, and Marco Shirato.


 

Congratulations to JPO Peacena Samuels on her promotion to Circuit 5 Commitment Manager.Congratulations to JPO Peacena Samuels on her promotion to Circuit 5 Commitment Manager. JPO Samuels has 20 years of service between detention and probation services. JPO Samuels began her career in 1999 working detention services and has been the backbone of the Circuit 5 Probation Unit 402 for the last 6 years. She has consistently raised the expectations on how to provide the best services to our youth and families. She always takes each case on an individual basis to provide the right service for the right youth at the right time. She has a proven track record of utilizing the Roadmap to System Excellence to ensure the best opportunity for youth success. Thank you Peacena for all your years of hard work and dedication to our youth and families. We wish you the best in your new endeavor.

 


 

Best wishes to outgoing Circuit 3 Chief Probation Officer Tom Witt, who is retiring after 35 years of service Best wishes to outgoing Circuit 3 Chief Probation Officer Tom Witt, who is retiring after 35 years of service to DJJ and the state of Florida. Chief Witt was recognized by staff for his many years of hard work and loyalty to the Department and to the youth and families we serve. He is well respected by the Circuit 3 stakeholders and community partners who always appreciated his enthusiastic approach to providing the best services to the youth under DJJ supervision. We send Chief Witt off into the next chapter of his life with all our best wishes for an enjoyable retirement!

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

St. Lucie Regional Juvenile Detention Center would like to recognize JJDOS Lafayette Ashley, who will be retiring on June 30th. Sergeant Ashley has been a devoted team member at St. Lucie RJDC for 35 years and has held many positions, modeling the behavior and attitude expected from a leader. Over the years, Sergeant Ashley has had a positive impact not only on our youth but also the staff at the detention center. We wish him all the best!

 

 

 

 

 


 

Probation Youth Receives Assistance from Community Member

Youth with bike received through Project Connect.After successfully completing his residential commitment treatment at a central Florida residential program, Youth E.P. returned to his Franklin County community on May 22nd to an unrecognizable mess due to the ravages of Hurricane Michael. The hurricane destroyed everything he once knew as his home. His mother and siblings lost everything and had to relocate to north Alabama to seek employment while he was in commitment. The youth’s grandmother stayed behind to be the caregiver for the youth while he completes post-commitment probation. However, Youth E.P.’s grandmother also lost her home due to Hurricane Michael, so he returned from commitment to a flattened piece of property with very few remains. Recognizing the great need this youth faced and noting that he lives in the most remote part of Circuit 2, 80 miles from Tallahassee, JPO Christiane Caldwell made a referral to Project Connect to help meet the youth’s many needs.

Youth EP had expressed a concern to help his grandmother by getting a job, running errands for her, getting access to educational opportunities and pro-social activities, etc. but he did not have the transportation necessary to do so. Completing the requirements for a driver’s license is part of his individualized service plan, but that would not help his immediate transportation need. Project Connect Transition Coordinator (TC) Je’Meane Pinkney coordinated with Project Connect Transition Specialist (TS) Michelle Glisson who was assigned the case in the community. TC Pinkney had an old friend living in the Franklin County area that she knows cares greatly for his community. She knew she could rely on Kelvin Martin. She provided his contact information to TS Glisson who contacted Mr. Martin. Within minutes, Mr. Martin had committed to donating a bicycle for Youth E.P. and just a couple of days later, made good on that promise. Project Connect is very thankful for the assistance and commitment we receive from many community partners across the north region such as Mr. Martin. They are integral to the team effort it takes to foster youth transition success!

 


 

Congratulations to the first cohort of graduates from Eckerd Connects Project Bridge’s newly launched Project 180 program. Congratulations to the first cohort of graduates from Eckerd Connects Project Bridge’s newly launched Project 180 program. The Project 180 program is designed to support youth for an additional three months of services following their Project Bridge graduation. The team assists youth in setting and accomplishing vocational and educational-specific goals for their future. If you would like to learn more about Project 180, please email Hope Cross at HCross@Eckerd.org.

 

 


 

Graduation at AMIkids PinellasAMIkids Pinellas recently hosted a graduation for several students. Their guest speaker was Rene Flowers, chair of the Pinellas County School Board. The graduates are all moving on to finish school at a local institution. Congratulations to these graduates and we wish them all the best as they move forward in accomplishing their future goals.

 

 

 


 

AMIkids Southwest Florida has established a mentoring partnership with Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) AMIkids Southwest Florida has established a mentoring partnership with Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) in Fort Myers. Recently, a group of FGCU students went to the AMIkids program to engage in time management skill development games to help the AMI youth understand the importance of planning and assessment when taking on projects.

 

 

 


 

Circuit 4 Reform Specialist Donna Collins attended the “Breaking of Bread” dinner that is held every two weeks at Duval RJDC. Circuit 4 Reform Specialist Donna Collins attended the “Breaking of Bread” dinner that is held every two weeks at Duval RJDC. This program was put together by Corporal Celeste Cruse and JJDOS Reginald Lovely to reward the youth who are doing well while in detention. These youth are served their favorite fast food and their parents are invited to join them for this celebration of their success. If the parents are not available, detention center volunteers, teachers, or detention center staff will join the youth. This is a great example of collaboration among our juvenile detention center, community providers, school board, and probation staff. Thank you team for going above and beyond to serve the youth in our care.  

 

 

 

 


Prevention Assistant Secretary Hosts AAU Track and Field Qualifier  

Prevention Assistant Secretary Alice Sims hosted the 2019 Tallahassee Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) District Track and Field Qualifier at the Florida State University High School. Over 400 enthusiastic young athletes competed for the opportunity to qualify for the AAU Junior Olympics, which will take place in Greensboro, North Carolina on July 28th – August 3rd.

Deputy Secretary Timothy Niermann and his wife, as well as Office of Prevention team members Jashett Omeally and Jackie Singleton, showed support to local athletes by donating their time to assist with the admissions and registration for the event.

The next track meet, the Tallahassee AAU Region 9 National Track and Field Qualifier, will be held Thursday-Sunday, June 20-23, 2019 at the Florida State University Mike Long track from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. daily. This event is expected to have over 800 athletes competing for their chance to compete in the AAU Junior Olympics later this summer.

The AAU was founded in 1888 to establish standards and uniformity in amateur sports. During its early years, the AAU served as a leader in international sport representing the U.S. in the international sports federations. The AAU worked closely with the Olympic movement to prepare athletes for the Olympic Games.

Jashett Omeally, AS Alice Sims, Jackie Singleton, and Deputy Secretary Tim Niermann.
Pictured above (from left to right): Jashett Omeally, AS Alice Sims, Jackie Singleton, and Deputy Secretary Tim Niermann.


 

Secretary Simone Marstiller, Prevention Assistant Secretary Alice Sims, Residential Assistant Secretary Laura Moneyham, Prevention Deputy Chief Marcus Smith and more than 40 DJJ team members from all program areas attended the National Conference on Preventing Crime in Tampa. The conference was sponsored by the Florida Office of the Attorney General in conjunction with the Florida Consortium or Urban League Affiliates and Derrick Brooks Charities Youth Programs, presided over the ceremonies.

The morning keynote address was delivered by Derrick Brooks, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Derrick Brooks Charities, a Tampa Bay organization that provides youth with educational programs and opportunities to develop a cultural and social vision. Mr. Brooks, a national Football League Hall of Famer who played with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, encouraged young people to study hard in school, strive for greatness and to never give up on their dreams.

Conference workshops were geared toward adults, youth and law enforcement personnel. DJJ presenters included Eugene Morris, State & Federal Director; Yvonne Woodard, Operations and Training Director and Dionne Anderson, Federal Grants Manager, all from the Office of Prevention & Victim Services, who delivered a presentation titled, “Florida Department of Juvenile Justice: Celebrating Families, Creating Safer Communities and Enhancing Positive Relationships.” Ms. Woodard also served as DJJ’s primary liaison on the conference planning committee.

DJJ, an annual platinum sponsor, also set up an informational table display for conference attendees to learn about programs, policies and ongoing initiatives of the department.

Prevention Assistant Secretary Alice Sims, DJJ Secretary Simone Marstiller, and Ben Shirley and Pat Smith, both from the Florida Department of Children and Families.
Pictured about (from left to right): Prevention Assistant Secretary Alice Sims, DJJ Secretary Simone Marstiller, and Ben Shirley and Pat Smith, both from the Florida Department of Children and Families.

Human Resources Bureau Chief Dodie Garye, Prevention Assistant Secretary Alice Sims, Deputy Communications Director Molly Best, Operations and Training Specialist Shaneria Randall, and Deputy Legislative Director Sam Kerce 
Pictured above (from left to right): Human Resources Bureau Chief Dodie Garye, Prevention Assistant Secretary Alice Sims, Deputy Communications Director Molly Best, Operations and Training Specialist Shaneria Randall, and Deputy Legislative Director Sam Kerce

 

 


 

 

The Office of Prevention and Victim Services recently received thanks from the California Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC). Eloisa Tuitama, field representative from the California Board of State and Community Corrections requested assistance from DJJ to prepare for their federal audit by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP).

DJJ provided California officials with copies of the initial notification received from OJJDP of the pending 2018 audit, the Compliance Monitoring Audit Report, DJJ’s follow-up response to OJJDP and a letter that DJJ sent to OJJDP to state steps that DJJ planned to take to ensure continued compliance. After providing the requested technical assistance, a thank you card was received from the Ms. Tuitama expressing her gratitude for Prevention team’s generosity and kindness.

 


 

Residential Youth Get Behind-the-Scenes Look at Radio Studio

Residential Youth Get Behind-the-Scenes Look at Radio StudioWith so much talent from the youth and the staff within Crestview Youth Academy, a non-secure program for boys operated by Youth Opportunity Investments, it was only right that the next stop be a studio. Through the High School High Tech program, the young men of Crestview Youth Academy took off to the Real Women Radio studio to get a behind the scenes feel and learn what it takes to run a radio show. The youth learned interviewing skills, sound technician skills and the keys to promoting. The youth were even able to interview Crestview Youth Academy’s very own Capri Jones, who also happens to be an upcoming artist in the music industry. The youth hosted their own radio show and were able to record "on air". Looks like we have some extremely talented young men with a great future ahead at Crestview Youth Academy.

 

 

 


 

Youth from JoAnn Bridges Academy participated in several services including washing the fire trucks and cleaning the fire station. JoAnn Bridges Academy, a non-secure program for girls operated by Rite of Passage, continues to enhance community involvement. JoAnn Bridges Academy has incorporated another community service project for the youth by partnering with a local fire station.

The youth participated in several services including washing the fire trucks and cleaning the fire station. The youth received several hours of community service hours to assist with their court sanctions. This was another adventurous moment and a way to give back to the community for the youth at JoAnn Bridges Academy.

 

 

 

 


 

Staff in training for the new Hope Forest AcademyIn preparation for the opening of Hope Forest Academy, staff spent hours training on expectations and best practices in youth care. Hope Forest Academy is a residential program for boys operated by Rite of Passage, Inc. Hope Forest Academy offers an expansive and tranquil setting at the edge of Ocala National Forest. Services include an on-site accredited school, clinical interventions, vocational training, abundant recreation opportunities and 24-hour supervised care.

In addition to professional skill development, the training curriculum gave staff the opportunity to learn more about themselves, as well as their coworkers. The team concluded training with a commitment to establishing an environment of hope where the emotional and physical safety of youth in our care always is the priority.  

Recognizing the important role each of them will play in opening such an amazing campus, the founding group of staff developed a mission statement to guide future team members. Their "why" was established through a collaborative discussion and together, the mission statement for Hope Forest Academy was developed:

Our TEAM at Hope Forest Academy is a tight knit community of dedicated individuals who are strong and passionate with a VISION of improving the lives of youth, through commitment, accountability, trust, and flexibility. Through our teamwork, our MISSION is to help our student athletes achieve their goals at Hope Forest Academy and in the community.

 


 

Recently at Broward Youth Treatment Center, a non-secure program for boys operated by Youth Opportunity Investments, some of the top culinary students were given an opportunity to display their skills at an awards event at Dillard High School in Fort Lauderdale. Instructors who work diligently with the youth also helped spearhead the catering event. Chef Wynter and Chef Assistant Young have been extraordinary with how they have been training these boys for the task of preparing hors d'oeuvres and refreshments for 40 plus individuals in a timely manner. All the gentleman shown to the left have received their “serv-safe” certification, which allows them to handle food in professional settings. Not only did they meet the standards that are held by most professional chefs, they also received many compliments on how the food tasted. These young men proved themselves to be skilled in culinary arts, and we are positive they will be successful with obtaining employment once transitioned back into the community. Broward Youth Treatment Center would like to give a special thank you to Chef Wynter for all her hard work and mentoring she has put into these young men!


 

Youth playing basketball.A regional basketball game was held with the following programs: Jacksonville Youth Academy, Gulf Academy, Orange Youth Academy, and Hastings Comprehensive Mental Health Treatment Facility (HCMTF), all of which are non-secure programs for boys and operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions. Gulf Academy and Orange Youth Academy played each other in the first game and Jacksonville Youth Academy and HCMTF played in the second game. The winners of the two games (Jacksonville Youth Academy and Orange Youth Academy) played in a final game. The winner of the tournament was Orange Youth Academy. Everyone showed great sportsmanship with friendly competition. After the championship game, all the youth ate grilled hot dogs and hamburgers, chips, and cookies. Despite the heated competition and rivalry among the programs, the youth engaged one another in a friendly and cooperative way.

 

 


 

Brooksville Academy, a non-secure program operated by Youth Opportunity Investments, celebrated Memorial Day by having a group of students attend a Memorial Day Service at the Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell. The students and the staff were able to hear from guest speakers including Lt. General Mike Plehn and Timothy Ryan, a US Air Force Veteran. The Hernando High School band played patriotic music during the ceremony and a band of bagpipes led the audience in the national anthem and Amazing Grace. There was also a flyover by Sierra Hotel Aeronautics and a color guard to present the colors. To close the ceremony, a special team did a three-cannon salute. This ceremony is open to the public each year on Memorial Day. Following the ceremony, the students walked the grounds and stopped at many grave sites to pay tribute to fallen soldiers by placing American Flags at their graveside.


 

Detention Center Kicks-off Summer Arts Program

The Volusia Regional Juvenile Detention recently kicked off their summer session of Arts for All People. The Volusia RJDC girls participated in the first art session with the center’s long-time art teacher, Amelie Rogers. The project was called marbleized art, which involved mixing paints on tile and canvas. The pieces are then moved around to create some really interesting and beautiful abstracts. The girls were very proud of their works and will take their work home with them upon release. Several of the staff participated and their pieces will be displayed in the detention center’s lobby.

 Artwork done by youth at Vlusia RJDC.  Artwork done by youth at Vlusia RJDC.

 


 

At Escambia RJDC, the Sr. High Choir of Newark, GA visited the center and performed a mini concert for the youth. The choir sung popular songs using keyboards, guitars, bells, trumpets, clarinets, and drums. The choir director explained how he helps student learn to sing in an ensemble, which typically includes teaching them to read music, control their own voices, and perform on stage.

Escambia RJDC also had a visit from the Youth Choir of the Living Word United Methodist Church from St. Louis, Missouri. This group performed their original music as well as a small skit. The detention youth had a fun-filled morning that was incorporated into the daily education schedule. Our teachers assisted in making both events possible and a huge success. The youth thoroughly enjoyed both events and some were inspired to learn more about this form of entertainment.

At Escambia RJDC, the Sr. High Choir of Newark, GA visited the center and performed a mini concert for the youth.   At Escambia RJDC, the Sr. High Choir of Newark, GA visited the center and performed a mini concert for the youth.

 


 

Visitors and youth at Orange RJDC.At Orange RJDC, Tammy Druley, co-chair of the Community Alliance for the Orange Regional Juvenile Detention and members of the League of Women Voters volunteer to visit with youth during visitation that do not have any family members coming to visit them. The youth enjoyed the visits each week and always look forward to spending time with these outstanding group of volunteers.

 

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