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Secretary's Message

September 27, 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

***Reminder: The Human Trafficking Summit is October 3; the “Our Children, Our Future, Restoring Hope” National Faith Symposium is November 6-7, and registration information is available at http://faithsymposium.dcf.state.fl.us/.***

Legislative Update

This week marked the first Interim Committee Week at the Capitol prior to the 2014 Legislative Session, and Legislative Affairs Director Jon Menendez and Deputy Director Marcus Smith were busy sharing DJJ’s priorities with state lawmakers. Jon and Marcus attended the House Sub-Committee on Criminal Justice, which announced its agenda for the legislative calendar. On the docket for next March is DJJ’s main piece of legislation, the Chapter 985 revisions. This groundbreaking component of DJJ’s reform plan has been presented across the state to our stakeholders and community partners and will surely be heard before the legislature in the coming months. Stay tuned for updates!

Detention Update

Last week, the Pinellas Regional Detention Center hosted some very special guests from the STAND Strength Team, a group of athletes who use their intense feats of strength and their uplifting message to inspire, instruct, and motivate students at schools around the world. The Detroit-based non-profit organization promotes anti-bullying, anti-peer pressure, anti-drugs, anti-alcohol, respecting others and academic excellence, and they have become the #1 school assembly program in the U.S. Superintendent Monica Gray was very pleased with the group’s strong message and noted that youths not only gave their undivided attention, some have asked when the STAND Strength Team can come back. 

The Escambia Regional Detention Center participated in the International Day of Peace last Saturday. The 2013 Peace Day Weekend included special activities and celebrations from all over the world and for the fourth year in a row the ERDC has participated in making “Pinwheels for Peace.” The pinwheels were created with colorful designs and phrases that represented how our youth feel about world peace. The pinwheels were displayed on the front lawn of the facility to help spread the word about world peace and demonstrate that it matters to the youth in our community. 

Detention Central Region held its Annual Regional Awards Ceremony yesterday.  The 2012-2013 Fiscal Year awards were presented for commitment and outstanding service.



The Regional Winners included: Eddie Roberts, Superintendent of the Year Ida Burns, Assistant Superintendent of the Year Timothy Langford, JJDO Supervisor of the Year Belinda Small, JJDO II of the Year Luis Cajinarobleto, JJDO I of the Year Tammara Rubino, Support Services Worker of the Year

Back Row Left to Right:  JJDO II Belinda Small, Brevard RJDC; Fiscal Assistant Tammara Rubino, Pinellas RJDC; Regional Office Staff Colette Antozzi and Frank Gargett


Front Row Left to Right: JJDO Supervisor Timothy Langford, Orange RJDC; Assistant Superintendent Ida Burns, Pasco RJDC; Detention Central Region Director Jon Loftheim


Not Pictured:  JJDO I Luis Cajinarobleto, Pasco RJDC and Eddie Roberts, Superintendent (Retired), Pasco RJDC 

As part of our Detention reform efforts, Detention staff participated in a planning meeting with representatives from Restorative Circles in anticipation of program implementation on or about October 1.  Restorative Circles offers  an approach to justice that focuses on the needs of the victims and the offenders, as well as the involved community, instead of punishing the offender.



Victims take an active role in the process, while offenders are encouraged to take responsibility for their actions, "to repair the harm they've done—by apologizing, returning stolen money, or community service." This project will directly serve youth from the Alachua area charged with their first or second offense of domestic violence.

Left to right:  Rodney Johnson, Dot Maver, Dixie Fosler, Melanie Kretzman, Jeffrey Weisberg, Heart Phoenix, Yvette Isaac, Kim Wells, Stacey Kakarigi, Pennie Slaughter and Forrest Hallam


Not in the picture but participating in the meeting:  Kimbley Jacobs, Jeff Wenhold and Joe Graham


I would like to share the following letter, which was sent to the staff at the Bay Regional Juvenile Detention Center by one of the youth who was served there. It reads:



Dear Bay Regional Detention Center Staff:




Thank you guys for the support that Major Heather Hart gave to me, as well as Dorline Jordan, Felicia Jordan, David Strickland, Robert Rutherford, Richard Boden, Dennis Spradlen, Jacob Fisher, Catlinmae Jed, Daryl Sims and Clyde Mathis. When Rutherford and Felicia Jordan took me to court on September 20, they kept saying that “it would be ok.” Those two people made me laugh and smile the whole way up there. I would like to say thank you to everyone for the advice they gave me. I felt attached to the staff because they want the best for the youth. You guys are the best. Especially to Officer Boden for keeping me in his prayers, for praying for me and with me the night he seen me crying in my cell. That Officer Boden is the best. He cared so much and he always kept me laughing and smiling when I was down. Thank you for all the support and I hope I get a letter back.




Probation Update

Last Friday, Assistant Secretary Joni Wimmer visited Circuit 8 where she met with many of our stakeholders and partners in the local community. The AMIKids Gainesville staff provided Joni with a tour of their new facility and described their plans for future programming. Gainesville Chief of Police Tony Jones and his management staff informed Assistant Secretary Wimmer of the Disproportionate Minority Contact Grant the Gainesville Police Department has been awarded.  The results of the School-to-Prison Pipeline project were also discussed.  Forty-two arrests for Violation of Probation have been avoided as a result of this project, which began on the first day of school.  The highlight of the day was a meeting with staff where Assistant Secretary Wimmer administered the Oath of Office to Juvenile Probation Officers. Assistant Secretary Wimmer thanked the staff for their hard work and inspired them to continue to serve youth and families.

JPO Reverend Darrell Whiteside from Circuit 6, Pastor Cindy Lane, Jesus for Juveniles (JFJ) and the Sons of Allen AME Church met with young men from the Polk Halfway House last week for the Jesus for Juveniles program. The boys were very eager for the AME men’s involvement as every kid wanted a mentor. Many of the youth were very young, with the youngest being 11 years old. Several of the youth quoted scripture and engaged in conversation about the word of God. The Jesus for Juveniles program is an effort to positively affect the overrepresentation of black youth in the juvenile justice system.



Last Wednesday, JPOSs Melissa Fuller, Harold Garves, Mike Shoemaker and Assistant Chief Donna Butt from Circuit 6 met with community partners and the management team at the Pasco Regional Juvenile Detention Center in an effort to develop a community outreach program to benefit youth during their stay in secure detention and plan for services upon their release back to the community. Professionals from a variety of agencies participated and offered innovative suggestions for consideration. Among the topics discussed were health services, education, post release services, parental education and funding opportunities. 

Last Friday, Reform Specialist Lut Clarcq from Circuit 20 was the guest speaker for the board of directors meeting of the Southwest Florida Workforce Development Board in Naples. Lut provided the board with information about the Department’s reform efforts. She discussed the importance of community engagement and the preventive efforts needed for youth to have a bright future. The board also announced their support for Destination Graduation, which is a community based program that prepares at-risk high school age youth for graduation, post-secondary education and workplace readiness. 

CPO Judy Roysden, JDAI Coordinator Scott Buchanan and JPO Charnisha Palmore from Circuit 13 attended the Crossroads for Florida Kids one year anniversary celebration. Crossroads is a nonprofit organization in Hillsborough County, Florida that trains and mentors pro bono attorneys to represent children in dependency and delinquency proceedings. They recently started accepting delinquency cases and work closely with the juvenile probation officers.

The South Florida Workforce Youth Mobile Unit, in collaboration with DJJ and other community partners, will be stationed outside the Miami-Dade Juvenile Justice Center four days per week. The unit began on Monday and is looking for participants who are at least 16 years old and in need of educational and employment services. An initial assessment will be provided with a description of services and an overview of the program requirements. Any challenges that need to be addressed will be identified by an advisor (e.g. tutoring, job readiness, and wrap around services).  Based on the comprehensive assessment, the Career Advisor will develop, in consultation with the youth and within 10 days of the enrollment date, an Individual Service Strategy. Participants will also have an educational assessment provided by the Miami Dade County Public School System. The teacher/counselor will provide an educational recommendation to AMO Staff, which will be included in the Individual Service Strategy/Career Plan. Career exploration workshops, job readiness skills and employment services will be provided. In addition, youth completing the program who are in need of additional services will be referred to other South Florida Workforce Investment Board Providers in their communities for assistance. Services include tutoring and GED preparation. The State Attorney’s Office will be providing sealing and expungement packets with information detailing eligibility, forms, and a “how-to” guide on all aspects of sealing and expunging. The staff will pre-register youth to attend one of the SAO’s monthly sealing and expungement events throughout the county. 

I love sharing stories with you about our probation officers that go above and beyond the call of duty. Accordingly, I would like to thank JPO John Provencher for his assistance to the General Counsel’s Office to ensure that one of his youth assisted the Department in an appeals case. John arranged to have the youth present for testimony and was able to have a notary present so that this child could testify by phone saving the agency travel expenses related to transporting the youth to central Florida for the hearing. John’s commitment to his craft is unquestioned and I would like to personally thank him for his help. 

Reform Specialist Lut Clarcq from Circuit 20 was the guest speaker at the Oasis Middle Charter School in Cape Coral on September 12. Lut spoke with eighth graders from Ms. Katy Hannon’s class who were very attentive while listening to the career path that Lut has taken. The students enjoyed the “Know the Law” conversation and were very excited that Ms. Clarcq was the first guest speaker that was invited for the career day class.

JPO Shana Feren from Circuit 20 and Joan Fusulo with the Cape Coral Police Department are spearheading a bicycle charity program for youths who are in need of used bicycles. The two have worked for many years making this program effective and useful for area youth. The event was held on September 11th with another huge bike giveaway scheduled for November. 

In wrapping up the probation update, I would like to share this heartfelt letter sent from a parent to JPO Kathleen Bautz from Circuit 16. I have always said that probation officers have one of the hardest jobs in our agency, and after reading this message it’s hard not to shed a tear. It reads…



Good Morning Kathleen: 




I just wanted to reach out and thank you for believing in my son. You were the first person who contacted me when my son was arrested; and from the jump-start you were a positive advocate for him (and us). Due to your hope and faith in him...we have been able to cross some high hurdles.  


I know not everyone is a success story. This is why I feel it is important for you to hear one every once in a while. Your belief in him has been tremendous, and all the while helping me with my feelings while dealing with what started as a nightmare. You kept my spirits up, and helped me not to give up on my son (which I wouldn't have, but it was nice to have the support). 


My son’s nightmare has since turned into a blessing. He put himself in summer school to make up a credit that he was short from the transfer of a different school. He wanted to play on the football team with such vigor, he raised his GPA to the 2.0 inside the first 1 1/2 wks of school, he is now playing football. He has also been approached to be a mentor for the under-classmen in the Life Skills Course. He has the willingness and desire to do so. He said if he can tell a story from "hands-on" experience, and help save one teenager from going down the path he did....he will feel accomplished. He said that while he is embarrassed, he isn't afraid to tell his story of his poor decision making and therefore the consequences that it brought forth. He has been on time for school (other than one day, he left 5 mins later than usual and got caught in the rain and behind a school bus). He informed his diversion counselor, so she was aware. He has been attending all sessions weekly, and has dropped clean since on the program.  


Here's the thing, he has been clean and sober since April. He was never ashamed of you coming to the school during his home detention of the 21 days. He actually looked forward to telling you all good news. He said you gave him another chance at life, and instead of destroying it over a stupid teenage decision; you helped to build a better one for him since you had the faith in him. 


I no longer have to battle with him over the time he returns home. He is home every night (including weekends) before curfew. Of course, with the exception of his games (which I am attending anyway). I have restful nights of sleep, and wake up refreshed.  


I will never forget when he walked out of the gates over at the jail, and his chest was all puffed up; and he was acting all "gangster like" toward me and my husband. We weren't able to calm him down; you were the one who calmed him down and brought him back to the reality of the situation. 


I feel so blessed, and will always remain grateful that you were my son's cheerleader. We were all able to build strength upon your professionalism, faith, and hope. Not everyone is cut-out for a job like yours; but you are certainly in the right profession. These kids (and families...including us) are so lucky to have you. 


Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for helping me get my "real" son back. He's back, and I missed him (even though he physically didn't go anywhere). We laugh, take care of business, talk about EVERYTHING again.....just like the old days (before this crappy age came about). = ) 


I have rambled enough. I just wanted to say thank you from the bottom of my heart, and let you know how much my son respects you.




Residential Update

This month, five young men preparing to graduate from the Dade Juvenile Residential Facility earned their First Aid/CPR Certifications. Under the instruction of trainer Darrell Russell, these youth took the same class that all employees take, which is an American Safety and Health Institute Course.



This certification provides the young men with an additional employability skill that they have added to their resumes. The five graduates received their certification cards in a special ceremony that was attended by members of their treatment teams and program administration.  Upon receiving their cards, the young men enjoyed a special meal that was prepared by the program’s food services department. 


According to Program Director Manny Alvarez, “This course was a big success and something that we as a program will continue doing on a quarterly basis for other program residents.”


Juvenile Detention Officer Graduation

Congratulations to the newest class of juvenile justice detention officers that graduated today from the Florida Public Safety Institute in Tallahassee. Thanks to Jeff Wenhold, Chief of Policy Development and Planning in the Office of Detention Services, for delivering the graduation address at the ceremony held at DJJ headquarters. Kudos to Learning Consultant Duane Pace for training the officers for this position of critical responsibility. They successfully completed 240 hours of training to become certified and will serve in the regional juvenile detention center (RJDC) listed next to their names.



First row:  Sharon Overton-Brevard RJDC, CaitlinMae Jed-Bay RJDC, Allison Burnett-Volusia RJDC, Sherina Cloud-Leon RJDC, Garielle Edwards-Alachua RJDC, Larry Nester-Leon RJDC



Second Row:  Meshach Derico-Leon RJDC, John Robinson-Okaloosa RJDC, James Brown-Alachua RJDC, Symone Benjamin-Leon RJDC, Kesheba Lynch-Alachua RJDC, Hugh Walls-Brevard RJDC, Antonio White-Leon RJDC



Third Row:  Terron Small-Volusia RJDC, Sherman Woods-Escambia RJDC, Roydel Basford-Alachua RJDC, Jameil Farrington-Volusia RJDC, Jacob Fisher-Bay RJDC, William Case-Leon RJDC



Prevention Update

The Prevention Assessment Tool Training was held Tuesday and Wednesday in the Alexander Building for all Delinquency Prevention Specialists within the Department. This training was a necessity for our specialists so that they can deliver the information to contracted prevention providers. These providers will then be able to administer the PAT on youth who are entering the system and enrolled in their programs to determine the risk that these youth are exposed to. The PAT helps identify what services work best for the individual youth.


Pictured from L to R: rear to front: Delinquency Prevention Specialists Paula Friedrich, Marty Reid (partially hidden), Pat McGhee, Lydia Breaux-Davis, Tine Levene, Becky Linn, Brent Musgrove, Marie Boswell and Onazina Washington 

The Office of Prevention Community Conversation road tour continued last night in Monticello where residents in Jefferson County came out to inform DJJ about what services and resources are needed in their area. The meeting was held at the Jefferson County Public Library. The good folks in Prevention have been doing a fabulous job and I am pleased to announce that I will be attending the Community Conversation this Tuesday in Crawfordville at the Wakulla County Public Library. For more information on this event, click here.