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Secretary's Message

October 25, 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 “Our Children, Our Future, Restoring Hope” National Faith Symposium is November 6-7, and registration information is available at www.faithsymposium.com.***

This week, I had the pleasure of joining the Office of Prevention at a community conversation in Gulf County. The meeting was well attended and local residents took the time to share their concerns regarding at-risk and delinquent youth, as well as the many ongoing efforts taking place in the community to steer troubled youth toward positive decisions that will help them avoid the juvenile justice system. One of the most talked about topics was Gulf County’s zero tolerance policy in the local school system. I reiterated my belief that each situation with each child should be handled on an individual basis and that civil citation is an essential tool to help our state’s youth stay in school. WJHG-TV from Panama City covered the meeting; to watch, click here.

I’m already looking forward to next week’s community conversations in Holmes and Bay Counties! To see the schedule of future meetings, click here.

Probation Update

Last week, CPO Dorothy Malik (pictured left) from Circuit 19 along with public defenders Diamond Litty and Usha Maharajh attended a fundraiser for Life Builders of the Treasure Coast. Life Builders started three years ago in an effort to assist youth and families-in-need that have been touched by our agency. Life Builders also contributed $3,000 earlier this year to the Circuit 19 Annual Back to School Bash. 

I would like to express  my appreciation for the continued work JPO Latrice Glenn is doing with a youth on her caseload who is suffering from  brain cancer. Latrice was recognized in June by Governor Scott for her work with this youth. She aided the family by conducting clothing drives, shopping, working with Make a Wish Foundation, DCF and the Local Review Team in organizing ways to provide for and assist the family to address sometimes complicated and overwhelming needs. Latrice along with JPOs Glendale Walker and Schnitta Gilreath have made certain the youth and his aunt are transported to all appointments and continue to provide transportation anywhere the family needs to go. Management Review Specialist Caldernett Davis has also assisted with providing for this family.   The emotional support along with providing for their needs has been exceptional.  Both the youth and his aunt look forward to her and JPO Glendale Walker’s weekly visits. The greatest news of all is that his last scan showed that the cancer cells have not multiplied. Thank you to JPO Glenn and others who have gone above and beyond in helping this youth and family in need. 

On October 11, JPOs Adam Wiegand and Ray Dorman from Manatee County Probation in Circuit 12 participated in a park cleanup project designed to reduce the amount of litter in parks around Manatee County. Adam and Ray selected youth to help with the project giving them valuable community service hours. Together they cleaned up more than four pounds of trash in area parks. After the cleanup was complete, Adam and Ray took the boys on a fishing trip to a nearby pier to reward them for their good behavior. This was a first for many of the youth who had a wonderful time learning how to fish. 

Last Wednesday, JPO Demetria Battle had one of her youth receive the “Doing the Right Thing” Award from the Lee County Sheriff’s Office. Demetria assisted this youth in making good decisions and showing him how to be a role model among his peers. JPO Battle encouraged the youth to have a positive attitude. The youth also took exemplary action by assisting another youth in the classroom that was having a seizure. He was recognized for his bravery and ability to keep the class calm until help arrived.

Last Friday, CPO Karen Knight from Circuit 16 teamed up with DCF and the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office -  Special Victims Unit for a benefit for Christina’s Courage of Key West. Christina’s Courage, a local sexual battery and child abuse treatment center provides a safe and comfortable location for law enforcement officers to bring victims of sexual assault and child abuse for forensic medical exams and interviews. Christina’s Courage is a model for Florida Keys non-profits in accomplishing our mission through collaboration and shared resources.

Pictured from left to right are: CPO Karen Knight, DCF Program Administrator Amy Baldree, Detective Sargent Linda Mixon and Detective Lissette Zuelch of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office.

Probation officers in Circuit 4 have begun community outreach and awareness. Each month the staff will focus on a national or local plight that affects the community. On October 10, Circuit 4 participated in “Think Pink Day” to show support for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This topic was covered during the monthly community awareness night meeting where SJPO Christy Lightburn opened up about her battle and victory over breast cancer. 

Tuesday, Reform Specialist Lut Clarcq from Circuit 20 held a “Know the Law” youth conversation with youths in foster care. The Children’s Home Society of Florida provides Life Skills Training for foster care youths and invited Mrs. Clarcq to speak about safety. Ms. Clarcq presented “Know the Law” - how to be safe, make good choices and use good decision-making skills. She also talked about focusing on strengths and creating short-term and long-term goals.

Last Wednesday, CPO Gwen Steverson, Assistant Chief Karen McNeal, Reform Specialist Donna Clayton and JPOS Janice Flatley from Circuit 4 attended the ground breaking ceremony for AMIKids’ new facility at the former Jacksonville Marine Institute. The ceremony was organized by Builders Care, a faith-based organization whose mission is to provide no-cost services to persons and non-profit organizations in need. This was a great milestone in the history of AMI, as they are restoring the original building which will carry the sign AMI Kids of Jacksonville. 

Prevention Update

Last Thursday, Office of Prevention team members raised awareness for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month by decorating their office and wearing pink. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide. It is estimated that more than 1.6 million new cases of breast cancer occurred among women worldwide in 2010.

Last Friday, Special Projects Specialist Frederick Wilkerson and Youth Engagement Coordinator Cici Battle moderated the College Experience Panel in observance of “Be Out Day” at the Palmer Munroe Teen Center in Tallahassee. The event targeted Leon County middle and high school teens that were out of school due to a scheduled teachers’ planning day.  The “day off” presented a unique opportunity to provide teens with information on issues such as college preparation, life after high school, community service and life skills. Students also participated in various recreational activities.

This week, DMC Coordinator Josh Kuch, Federal Assistant Gloria Gatlin and Federal Juvenile Justice Specialist Yvonne Woodard attended the Coalition for Juvenile Justice Southern Region Conference and the 19th Annual Symposium on Juvenile Services in Louisville, Kentucky. Juvenile justice professionals attended the Southern Region Conference to promote positive mental, physical and social adolescent health and participated in presentations and workshops to help better understand adolescent brain development, learn about next steps in disproportionate minority contact (DMC), and judicial intervention. DJJ staff represented Florida at the CJJ Southern Region Business, Juvenile Justice Specialist and DMC Specialist meetings.

Pictured from L to R: Gloria Gatlin, Federal Assistant; Marie Williams, CJJ, Interim Executive Director; Yvonne Woodard, Federal Juvenile Justice Specialist; and Josh Kuch, DMC Coordinator

JJSIP Update

The day after holding a daylong case study meeting in West Palm Beach (Circuit 15), a training was hosted at the Gulfstream Goodwill Industries conference center for most of the South Region’s juvenile probation officers (JPOs).  This training focused on how the use of the Dispositional Matrix by JPOs has helped achieve the goal of the Juvenile Justice System Improvement Project (JJSIP)—to provide the right service for the right youth, at the right time, and in the right dosage.  Research Associate Michael Baglivio, Ph.D., and Residential Services Assistant Secretary Laura Moneyham conducted a presentation in West Palm Beach as a follow-up to the previous day’s JJSIP training.  The presentation was for probation staff and focused on five-year delinquency trends both statewide and for Palm Beach County.  The focus of the training included the JJSIP theory and research basis, as well as structured decision-making that includes the Dispositional Matrix.  A question and answer period followed the presentation allowing JPOs to ask about the JJSIP and the Dispositional Matrix as specifically related to the implementation of the matrix as a tool for each youth in the JPO’s caseload.  Assistant Chief Probation Officer Greg Starling (Circuit 15) set up and coordinated the meeting. 

This week, as the third in a series of continuing education and validation, Data Integrity Officer Roselyn “Rosie” Hutchins (Research & Planning), led the statewide webinar “Accessing R-PACT Management Reports.”  More than 70 unique telephone numbers logged in to the webinar with multiple staff members from DJJ’s residential programs participating from each logged-in location.  Rosie provided step-by-step instructions for participants to understand what the R-PACT reports module contains and how to access all of its components through the JJIS computer software.  With the appropriate JJIS access rights, a residential program case manager, monitor or provider may now see how each youth in a program is progressing based on their R-PACT scores.  The management guide with screen shots that provide the step-by-step explanation is now available online at http://www.djj.state.fl.us/partners/our-approach/PACT/RPACT by clicking on the link to the PDF document titled, “RPACT Management Reports Overview Guide.” 

Residential Update

Union Juvenile Residential Facility, operated by Sequel Youth Services, reported this week that two former residents have joined high school football teams.  One youth is a starting running back for Oviedo High School in Orange County and is a member of the school’s ROTC.  The other youth is playing on the junior varsity team at Hollywood High School in Lee County. 

The residents of Impact House, operated by Gateway Community Services, completed a community work project that included the building of a new playground in a local apartment complex.

Detention Update

I am pleased to share these murals that were painted by one of our youth at the Leon Regional Juvenile Detention Center. We have some very talented kids in our facilities and I am always happy to see them put their skills to good use. 


Juvenile Justice Academy Graduation

 Congratulations to the juvenile probation officers, pictured below, who graduated today in a ceremony held at Children’s Home Society in West Palm Beach, after successfully completing 403 hours of training to become certified officers. They will work in the city listed next to their names.

(Pictured from left to right) Seated: LeAndrea Darden (Ft. Pierce), Danielle Stewart (West Palm Beach), Timorya Ware (Vero Beach) and Sade Lee (West Palm Beach)Standing: Daniel Svec (Delray Beach), Jermaine Austin (Lake Worth), Zsharmia Page (West Palm Beach), Paula Serrano (Lake Worth), DeVeon Harris (Lauderdale Lakes), Amatulla White (Lauderdale Lakes), Natasha George (Lauderdale Lakes), Andrew Ambrose (Ft. Pierce) and Mark Bartolone (Ft. Pierce)

JPOs provide a formal recommendation for each youth arrested and advise the court regarding appropriate sanctions and services. They work with youth in judicial circuits throughout Florida at every point in the juvenile justice continuum, from initial intake screening through the supervision of services. JPOs ensure youth comply with court requirements and assist teens and their families in accessing services, such as counseling and skills development, that support their success in building a brighter future. 

Congratulations to the following juvenile detention officers (JDOs) who graduated today in a ceremony at Broward College in Fort Lauderdale. JDOs supervise youth in state-operated regional juvenile detention centers (RJDCs) as they await an appearance before the court, or placement in a juvenile residential treatment facility. The JDOs successfully completed 240 hours of training to become certified officers. They will work in the DJJ facility listed with their names.

Jerome Abraham, Dade RJDC; Anthony Butler, Palm Beach RJDC; Danica Byrd, Dade RJDC; Daphne Calero, Dade RJDC; Lewis Ciceron, Broward RJDC; Uranius Cruz, Broward RJDC; Frantz Cyrius, Dade RJDC; Shelley Ewan, Broward RJDC; Clarence Gillis, Broward RJDC; Clifton Goodly, Broward RJDC; Brandon Gray, Broward RJDC; Kirsten Harris, Broward RJDC; Aaron Kmecik, Palm Beach RJDC; Yosiel Lorente, Broward RJDC; William Mack, Broward RJDC; Sheila Meyers, Broward RJDC; Antilea Mobley, Broward RJDC; Tekeyshia Moreland, Palm Beach RJDC; Jessica Ortiz, Palm Beach RJDC; Felipe Perdomo, Broward RJDC; Horice Pertee, Palm Beach RJDC; Whency Poinson, Palm Beach RJDC; Simon Putmon, Palm Beach RJDC; Sherwin Reid, Palm Beach RJDC; Assan Rose, Broward RJDC; Dayhanna Rubio, Palm Beach RJDC; Herman Tarpley, Broward RJDC; Ronnie Thornton, Jr., Dade RJDC

Thanks also to Jorge Guerra, Chief of Detention Services in the South Region, who delivered the graduation address to the new JDOs, and to retired Circuit 15 Chief Probation Officer Feirmon Johnson, who served as the commencement speaker at the JPO graduation. Kudos to learning consultants Andrea “A.J..” Minnis and Christina Ash for training the officers for these positions of critical responsibility.