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Secretary's Message

August 9, 2013

Secretary Walters’ Weekly Letter

I am so proud to share every week the great work occurring here at the Department of Juvenile Justice, and I hope you will take a moment to read the stories about the accomplishments of our colleagues and the youth in our care. I am always looking for opportunities to showcase DJJ employees and the work you do – on and off the clock – to enrich your communities. I know there is even more going on than what I report here, so I would like to encourage each of you to keep the weekly letter in mind and remember to share your good news. It’s easy – email news@djj.state.fl.us or call (850) 921–5900 by Thursday at noon (submissions after that time will be considered for the next week’s letter).


Wansley Walters

Roadmap Update

I am excited to share with you the updated Roadmap to System Excellence but first want to take this opportunity to say thank you. Thank you for your continued hard work, your valuable input on DJJ’s reform efforts and your continued commitment to moving this agency forward with the goals outlined in the Roadmap.  


As a result of the feedback we received on the listening tour across the state, some of that feedback from you and your co-workers, we have updated the Roadmap to include revisions and suggested clarifications.  Some of the areas where the Roadmap was supplemented include: expanding and improving gender responsive ways to prevent girls and boys from entering the system; increasing prevention and diversion through education efforts; implementing increased availability for community mental health and substance abuse services; and collaborating with the judiciary to reduce failures to appear and violations of probation.  


This version is a more comprehensive and detailed plan meant to not only provide understanding but to inspire others to join us in helping our youth, families and communities. I encourage you to share the Roadmap to System Excellence in your communities and not just with those that work in juvenile justice. The Roadmap is an opportunity to share the great strides we all have made thus far and the goals we have to make a difference for the youth we all serve.  


Also, as has been practice throughout this process, feedback is encouraged and welcomed. Should you have a comment or suggestion, please send an email to  roadmap@djj.state.fl.us. I appreciate the role each of you play in reaching our mission as we continue to put Florida’s families first by providing our youth with the right service, at the right place, in the right way and at the right time. To review the revised Roadmap to System Excellence, click here.

Flagler County Stakeholder Meeting

I was thrilled to be asked to display our revised Roadmap to System Excellence at a stakeholder meeting in Flagler County on Tuesday. Flagler County has seen its juvenile arrest rates drop 23% in the last six years and with their support of our Roadmap I am confident that the number will drop even further in the future. The stakeholders were a great group who contributed constructive  and productive input on juvenile justice issues.

Florida Conference of Circuit Judges

On Tuesday, I was pleased to present the Department’s Roadmap to System Excellence to the Florida Conference of Circuit Judges in Bunnell and  share our comprehensive and detailed plan to improve Florida's juvenile justice system. Florida's circuit judges play an integral role in helping at-risk and delinquent youth thrive. I've had the opportunity to travel the state and hear from more than 2,000 Floridians, and I am confident that Florida has a solid foundation, with strong partners, that will enable us to become a national model for juvenile justice.

I also shared successes the agency has already achieved as a result of the new community-based approach of prevention, diversion, intervention and family engagement. Because of our efforts over the last two years, delinquency arrests have decreased 23% - including a 28% decrease in school-based arrests and a 29% decrease in first-time misdemeanor arrests. I
appreciate the contribution of each and every DJJ employee in achieving these kinds of results.

Florida NewsMakers

Last week I was honored to be featured on the news program Florida NewsMakers hosted by Trimmel Gomes and produced by Sachs Media Group. The program, which can be seen on many of the major newspaper websites, highlighted our reforms to the juvenile justice system and our conversations with the Dream Defenders protesting at the Florida Capitol. To view the full interview, click here.

Florida Face to Face

Yesterday I was the featured interview on the Florida Channel’s Face to Face Program with Beth Switzer. This thirty minute program really gave me an avenue to discuss our revamped Roadmap to System Excellence in depth. The Florida Channel will feature this interview tonight at 5 p.m. with a re-broadcast at 6 p.m. For more viewing options, check our twitter feed or  your local cable operator. To view the full interview, click here.

Employee Accolades

I am honored to recognize Fred Schuknecht, Department of Juvenile Justice's Director of Administrative Services, who has been selected for the statewide Distinguished Service Award from the Florida Council on Crime and Delinquency, a non-profit corporation dedicated to the promotion of high professional standards for criminal justice agencies and criminal justice personnel. He will be honored at an event the end of August.

I am always elated to hear of our employees giving back to their community. Accordingly, I would like to give special kudos to Darvin Graham. Darvin is a 28-year veteran with the Department and currently works as an Administrative Review Specialist. His love of outdoors led him to become a volunteer with the Boy Scouts of America and he is the current Assistant Scoutmaster for Troop 302 in Inverness. Not only does Darvin give two hours every week to the Scouts, but he annually contributes an entire week of his summer volunteering at Camp Rainey Mountain in Clayton, Georgia. Darvin takes pride in mentoring the youth in his community, and I am thankful that he is a member of our team.

Also, congratulations to Paul Finn, Superintendent at the Volusia Regional Detention Center, for his selection as the recipient of the Distinguished Service Award in Juvenile Justice by the Florida Council on Crime and Delinquency, Chapter 17. Thank you for your valuable service to DJJ and your community!

Prevention Update

Last Tuesday evening, the DJJ Office of Prevention partnered with Rep. Daphne Campbell (D-108) to host a "Community Conversation" in her district at the North Miami High School Auditorium. A crowd of 45 was on hand to voice their needs regarding juvenile services. A special thanks to JPO Wilnick Princivil who provided Creole translation for the presenters in this largely Haitian community. 

The Community Conversation tour continued on Wednesday, this time in Gainesville where over 60 members of DJJ staff and community members were on hand to discuss juvenile needs and issues specific to Alachua County. The conversation was held at the Santa Fe Public Institute.

My thanks to youth SAG member, Michael Long, Youth SAG Sub-committee Liaison, Juliet Westmoreland, and FAMU Student, Michael Howard, for attending the Coalition for Juvenile Justice Youth Summit last week in Washington D.C. The summit was designed to cultivate and empower a young body of juvenile justice advocates through skill-building sessions on leadership development and civic engagement.

Delinquency Prevention Specialist Marie Boswell spoke at a back to school event in Sweetwater last Thursday. The event, held at the Mas Canosa Park, was designed to give away book bags and school supplies to local youth. Marie spoke on bullying prevention to over 500 people in attendance.

On June 3rd, Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Greater Miami had 140 students graduate from their program, eighteen of which were DJJ participants.  These 18 DJJ graduates were mentored in the School to Work program at five corporate sites: Adrienne Arsht Center, Cargill, FedEx Latin America, Homestead Hospital and Ryder. The graduates attended four high schools located in high juvenile arrest zip codes.  Six of the 18 graduates received a total of $62,000 in scholarships from Battier Take Charge ($20,000), Irie Foundation ($30,000 ) BBBS Five Millers ($12,000).

Detention Update

It is with great pleasure I announce the appointment of Jeff Wenhold to the Chief of Policy Development and Planning position in the Office of Detention Services.    Jeff brings over 23 years of experience working with young people both in the private sector and state government to this position.

Jeff’s extensive knowledge of the juvenile justice continuum is based on his years of service with the Office of Probation and Community Intervention, the Bureau of Quality Assurance and most recently as the Senior Management Analyst II in the Office of Detention Services.  His exemplary leadership skills and his ability to identify, research and resolve issues will be a tremendous asset as he assumes his new role as Chief.

Quality Improvement Update

In late July, the Bureau of Quality Improvement successfully held their annual Statewide Meeting which provided an opportunity to share practices with coworkers from across the state, as well as training and updates on improvements within the Department of Juvenile Justice and our Quality Improvement system.

The Quality Improvement staff were trained on the Standardized Program Evaluation Protocol (SPEP) for assessing juvenile justice programs. The SPEP is an evaluation tool to identify shortcomings in juvenile programs or services, specifically delinquency intervention services. The SPEP evaluates how closely delinquency interventions, as provided, align with the most prominent criminological and psychological research in the field. Furthermore, the SPEP helps identify concrete recommendations for improvement in order to optimize intervention effectiveness and positive outcomes. I would like to thank Marion Kelly from Georgetown University and Dr. Michael Baglivio from Research and Planning for the overview on the SPEP process as well as the quality indicators.

The Department is also in the beginning stages of incorporating the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) standards into detention and residential facilities. This federal mandate examines the structure of these facilities and the training that staff receive to eliminate inappropriate acts among staff and youth we serve. Our gratitude to Beth Davis for providing training on the PREA requirements.

Each year, the Quality Improvement staff are able to ask various branches of the Department questions regarding the standards used to conduct our reviews. A special thanks to Amy Greenwald from Probation and Community Intervention, Dr. Gayla Sumner and Rosemary Haynes from the Office of Health Services, Stacey Kakarigi and Jeff Wenhold from Detention Services, and Meg Bates, Candy Seifert, and Vanessa Wicker from Residential Services for all of their insight regarding the multitude of questions posed by the Quality Improvement staff. Additionally, QI was honored to have Jean O’Neal and Janie Smalley from PACE Center for Girls, who provided a presentation regarding the upcoming PACE quality improvement reviews that the QI staff will be assisting with as peer reviewers.

Our Quality Improvement staff were also honored to have Deputy Secretary Christy Daly and Director of Program Accountability Amy Johnson to help close out our Statewide Meeting. Their support is greatly appreciated and a testament to the dedication they both have to Florida’s youth.

Finally, we recognized several staff for their time of service with the Department of Juvenile Justice and within the Bureau of Quality Improvement. A special congratulation goes to John Criswell who is celebrating forty years of service to the state of Florida. Additionally, we celebrated two staff leaving our Quality Improvement family this year. Pam Graves and Dru Greene will be retiring after 23 1/2 and 36 years, respectively, of services with the state of Florida. These women truly exemplify the heart of the Department of Juvenile Justice with their dedication and loving disposition. Pam and Dru are much more than state employees, they are wonderful colleagues who will be missed.

Probation Update

Last Saturday JPOs Jimmy Cherry II, Albert Coker, George Williams and Unit Secretary Tara DaSilva from Circuit 3 participated in a back to school event hosted by the Suwannee Coalition of Live Oak. Sponsors donated over 1,000 backpacks stuffed with school supplies and gave them out to the youth in the community. The event also allowed youth and their parents the opportunity to interact with our JPOs.

JPOs from Circuit 7 participated in two community service projects last weekend in Flagler County. DJJ staff and youth volunteered at the Bunnell Food Pantry unloading and distributing food items for over 300 families in the local community. The staff also helped the elderly and handicapped transport the items to their cars.

CPO Wydee’a Wilson from Circuit 19 represented the Roundtable of St. Lucie County during an interview with the local Chamber of Commerce on July 26. The roundtable discussed the Bridges out of Poverty which is a series of best practices, ideas and tools designed to support those moving out of poverty. CPO Wilson chairs the community involvment committee of the Bridges Out of Poverty.

In the Photo from left to right: Executive Director of Grace Way Village Fred Di Fruscio; C 19 CPO Wydee’a E. Wilson; St. Lucie County Commissioner Frannie Hutchinson and            Chamber CEO Linda Cox


JPOS Jim Lane from Circuit 6 attended the Celebration of Achievement in Pinellas County last Thursday. The event was sponsored by the Community EFX and the St. Petersburg Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. Five young men who recently completed Gibbs, Lakewood, and Pinellas Secondary High Schools were honored. The theme of the event was “Recognizing and Acknowledging Everything Right with Our Young Men”.

Yesterday, members of circuit seventeen staged the 4th Annual Back to School Extravaganza at the Urban League of Broward County-Community Empowerment Center in Ft. Lauderdale. The event was customized to meet the unique needs of the community and to better prepare our probationers for the upcoming school year. The dynamic program included small focus groups, informational workshops and a resource fair and was designed to fully engage the participants while leaving them empowered by community activists, stakeholders, judges and politicians. Over 100 youth were in attendance which included DJJ probationers and students from the PACE Center for Girls. Each child received a backpack stuffed with school supplies. 

Last Thursday, probation students from Circuit 15 took a tour of the Solid Waste Authority in Palm Beach County. This gave youth a first-hand look at how recycling works, how waste is used to produce energy, and how energy is sold. It is with waste that two beautiful nature trails have been built and is being used by the public. 

On Friday, August 2, 2013 Circuit 19 held its’ first “Back to School Bash” at the Maravilla Center in Fort Pierce. The theme: “Education is the Key to Success.” We had well over 100 youth, family, staff and community partners in attendance. Youth received book bags filled with school supplies, toiletries and socks to kick start a new successful school year. Youth and staff were treated to hot dogs, hamburgers, ribs, baked beans, chips, sodas, potato salad, cake and watermelon. I would like to personally thank Life Builders of the Treasure Coast, a non-profit organization aimed to help kids in the juvenile justice system, for their generous $3,000 dollar donation to help with the cost of the event. Also contributing and deserving of thanks for their donations: Staples, Winn Dixie, Parks Rental, Tillman’s Ribs, Sonny & Vito’s Trophy, JPO Eddie Davis, SJPO George Connolly, A. Malik and SJPO Yolanda Harris-Merritt. A big kudos to the C 19 Probation Advisory team and all of the DJJ staff. We would also like to thank Eckerd Youth Alternatives; PACE Center for Girls; Children’s Home Society; Tykes and Teens; Dani Dreizehnter with the Fort Pierce Police Department; Henkel’s & McCoy (Workforce Solutions); Superintendent Kevin Housel and detention staff.  A special thank you to APCO Dorothy Malik and CPO Wydee’a Wilson for their efforts in bringing this event to fruition. 

Last Saturday, SJPO Walter Jimenez, CPO Dan Rodgers and Reform Specialist Tracy Olsen from Circuit 18 participated in a back to school resource fair and backpack giveaway with the Boys and Girls Club of East Altamonte Springs. The theme of the event was “Pitch a Tent and be a HERO” (Help Encourage and Respect Others). The youth in attendance were treated to a positive event which showed the first hand benefits of community engagement.

On Wednesday, Assistant Secretary of Probation and Community Services Joan Wimmer took a tour of circuit 16’s facilities. She toured the courthouse, jail, and DJJ offices while meeting with stakeholders and staff.



Photo: Paul Armstrong, JPOS;  C16 Chief Karen Knight; Asst. Secretary Wimmer; Reform Specialist Elaine Thompson, and Geoff Peattie, JPOS

This year the National Night Out, the annual  event where communities come together against crime and  engage in support of safe neighborhoods, held in Cocoa Florida at Diamond Square was everything anyone could hope – free food, vendors and bounce houses.  In addition  to other events and entertainment,  Brevard County Probation and Detention staff were invited to present  a panel discussion on the services of DJJ.  A representative  from probation units and Asst. Superintendent Margie McKinney of the BRJDC  presented  information on a DJJ journey from diversion to conditional release. Informational brochures were also distributed to the crowd.

Pictured from L-R: JPOS Lisa Ford, JPO Jennifer Balk, JPO Janie Dickey, SJPO Beth Cantrell, A.S. Margie McKinney and JPO Susan Coufman

Retirement Plan Update

The State Board of Administration of Florida released preliminary investment performance figures for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2013 showing the FRS Pension Plan earning a 13.12% return, beating its benchmark by 111 basis points, and ending the year with a market value of $132.4 billion. This represents a fund balance increase of $9.65 billion more than last year’s fiscal year-end figure, after net distributions of $6.2 billion to participants. Audited financial figures will be released later this year.

All asset classes earned positive returns during the fiscal year, led by the Global Equity asset class which earned 18.56%. Strategic Investments, Real Estate and Private Equity asset classes each earned 16.16%, 14.92% and 10.65% respectively. Fixed Income and Cash each earned .4% and .29% respectively.

Ash Williams, Executive Director and Chief Investment Officer for the SBA said; “While we are always pleased to see a strong annual performance our focus is on the long-term—20 and 25 years.” For these periods the fund has generated returns of 7.99% and 8.93% respectively.” Mr. Williams further commented, “The strong long-term performance can be attributed to continued prudent diversification of assets, cost controls, and excellent fund manager selection.”

Florida Retirement System Investment Plan

The FRS Investment Plan, established to provide Florida’s public employees with a flexible alternative to the traditional pension plan, posted year-end gains in returns and participation. The one-year return based on aggregate employee fund selection was 10.12%, beating a benchmark of 9.68%. The benchmark is based on the weighted aggregate of the performance of various indices representing each asset class.

During the fiscal year ending June 30, 2013, 26% of newly hired employees elected to join the Investment Plan, and 5,722 Pension Plan members used their 2nd election to switch to the Investment Plan resulting in a record high 150,721 member accounts. Additionally, the Plan’s year-end assets of $7.9 billion were at a record setting level, representing an increase of approximately 10% over last year’s fiscal year-end figure.

Davis Productivity Awards

I have always opined that DJJ employees are among the most innovative in state government, and it is time once again for those hard working employees to be recognized as the 2014 Prudential-Davis Productivity Awards have begun the nomination process.

The 2014 Prudential-Davis Productivity Awards (PruDPA) nomination form is now available at http://dpafoundation.org. Please take a few moments today to review the application and instructions and nominate a deserving DJJ employee or team of employees.

Nominations can be downloaded and completed off-line. The on-line nomination site is now open and will close on September 30, 2013 at 5:00 PM. No new nominations will be accepted after that time.

Please contact Morrison King at Morrison.king@djj.state.fl.us or 850-717-2660 or Jan Wright at jan.wright@djj.state.fl.us or 850-717-2311 if you have any questions.