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Secretary's Message

November 15, 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


Reform Update

This week, Deputy Secretary Christy Daly and I, along with a select group of residential staff and residential providers, traveled to St. Louis, Missouri to meet with the Annie E. Casey Foundation and leaders from the Missouri Department of Public Safety, which houses the state’s Juvenile Justice Program. The purpose of this visit was to gain a better understanding of Missouri’s unique perspective on juvenile justice and, because any change of this magnitude is bound to draw criticism, learn how Missouri achieved  consensus  with the necessary partners and stakeholders to accomplish such significant reforms. Missouri has moved toward a more therapeutic approach to residential services and has integrated this approach and emphasis on physical space as it relates to effective treatment; for instance, the state does not utilize locked cells of any sort. Instead, it has embraced a system that is able to balance different levels of youth risk and the need to maintain safety with a philosophy that is not rooted in control. Their creative programming approach has helped the state better engage families in treatment by taking on a more collaborative approach to addressing youth misbehavior and allowing families to play a more significant role in placement of their youth.

I thoroughly enjoyed the visit and I look forward to continuing to work with the Annie E. Casey Foundation as we move forward with our own transformative reform efforts.

Service Delivery Improvement Overview

As you have probably noticed, over the last few months my weekly letter has included updates about an exciting endeavor the Department has undertaken to increase our efficiency, accountability, and transparency in our service delivery. For instance, I shared with you changes within Bureau of Contracts, which will lead to a better alignment with program areas.

Today, I am pleased to have more information to share with you.

You may recall that in previous communications I explained that the overarching goal of this initiative is to de-silo our provider management operations. Previously, each program area, for the most part, operated independently from one another. While this independence can be a strength, it is part of a model that has also been found to lead to inefficiencies, such as very similar tasks being handled in four different silos; underutilizing the expertise and experience of functions such as the Bureau of Contracts Quality Improvement and Finance and Accounting; and limiting knowledge-sharing among program areas. To address these inefficiencies, DJJ is embracing a more collaborative model known as shared services in which a team or group provides an agreed set of activities to one or more internal customers, usually across multiple locations, with oversight and regular review to ensure quality and timeliness.

For DJJ, this new structure will be organized in four different components.

  • Manage Incidents: The new Incident Operations Center (IOC), which I introduced a couple of weeks ago, will allow the Department to appropriately handle any incident that does not require a full investigation. The IOC will strengthen our current incident management process, ensuring the tracking of standards as well as reporting and reviewing incidents occurring in our programs. Procure Services: Over the last two months, we have changed the way  we work within our procurement activities to increase efficiency, accountability, and to better serve Florida’s youth.
  • We will tackle the final two components, Manage Services and Monitor Services, in the coming months and I look forward to sharing the details. The emphasis will be put on finding ways to increase our program areas’ ability to focus on activities requiring a high degree of specialization, while centralizing the tasks and responsibilities as appropriate.

I am confident that utilizing this new model will improve our Department’s operations and enable to us to best meet our mission – decreasing delinquency among Florida’s youth – and better serve the youth in our care. This may seem like a lot of information at once, but I want to assure you that Amy Johnson, Director of the Office of Program Accountability, is available to answer any questions you have. She is a tremendous resource, and I encourage you to take full advantage of her knowledge on this topic by emailing her at Amy.Johnson@djj.state.fl.us.  

Prevention Update

The Office of Prevention played an extensive role in the National Faith Symposium last week which served as a unique opportunity for people who are committed to improving the lives of Florida’s children and families to gather. Assistant Secretary Wanda Finnie, pictured left, poses in front of the DJJ display table.

Broward County School Board member and President of the Mt. Olive Development Corporation, Dr. Rosalind Osgood, spoke at the 2013 National Faith Symposium last Wednesday on the topic of C.H.A.N.G.E. (Children Have a Need to Grow Every Day). Dr. Osgood, a single mother of three, is a prime example of what education, faith in God and help from numerous people can do to provide opportunities that may otherwise have been unimaginable. She delivered her powerful message of hope and inspiration during a luncheon at the symposium.

Prevention team members Brittany Claybrooks, Frederick Wilkerson, Cici Battle and Yvonne Maffia conducted a workshop at the 2013 National Faith Symposium last Wednesday entitled “Blurring the Lines: Youth Engagement & Faith.” DJJ focus groups have found that there seems to be a “disconnect” between elder generations and the roles of youth in the faith-based juvenile reform process.

Office of Prevention team members attended a State Advisory Group (SAG) meeting in Orlando last Tuesday. The SAG currently consists of a panel of persons from across the state who have training, experience or special knowledge of the juvenile justice system. SAG members are appointed by the Governor and are responsible for the administration and management of federally allocated funds. The SAG also partners with the Governor, the Legislature, DJJ and community leaders from around the State to build a better and safer Florida for youth and their families. 

In addition, SAG members and Prevention staff toured the Orlando Regional Juvenile Detention Center to speak with some of the youth within the facility. The SAG youth sub-committee is on a mission to speak with youth around the state and gather information to make recommendations on how to effectively provide services for Florida’s youth.

Prevention and Probation staff, along with Leon and Gadsden County teens, local ministers, attorneys and law enforcement officials, took part in the Youth Empowerment Summit last Saturday at the Student Services Building on the campus of Florida State University. The Summit was designed to educate young people on the law and to encourage teens to make the best decisions in life. Sponsored by the Tallahassee Alumnae Chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., the Summit afforded the more than 200 youth in attendance the opportunity to learn the differences between felonies and misdemeanors and to understand the consequences that such offenses can have on their lives. The event was covered by WCTV in Tallahassee; to see the story on the Summit, click here

The Office of Prevention was busy this week bringing together local youth and law enforcement in Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe and Marion counties for several Bridging the G.A.A.P.  (Gaining Appreciation by Adjusting Perspectives) discussions. G.A.A.P. conversations are designed to provide a foundation for youth to foster positive relationships with law enforcement officers and help law enforcement officers develop a well-balanced understanding of today’s youth. The premise is to promote reduced juvenile arrest and re-arrests, keep children from penetrating deeper into the juvenile justice system, promote Civil Citation and fund programs that work.



G.A.A.P. conversations also hope to educate law enforcement on today’s teens and their potential to be a positive voice for youth issues, as well as how their attitudes, behavior and conduct can change the outcome of situations and make youth feel more comfortable approaching them. More than 600 youth statewide have participated in G.A.A.P. conversations


Probation Update

Last Saturday, JDO Germaine Brown, Reform Specialist Melanie Kretzman and JPOs Craig Stone and Tuwuana Rossin from Circuit 8 participated in a community service project at the Juvenile Community Resource Center in Alachua. The center is part of the Alachua Project, a collaborative effort between the Alachua Regional Juvenile Detention Center and Circuit 8 Probation and Intervention Services. Eight youth and four staff worked together to create a flower bed in front of the building and plant a dogwood tree.

JPO Jodi-Marie Sirard from Circuit 6 attended the 4th Annual Dream Village Gala for Children on November 2. The event raised over $80,000 for children with life-long illnesses and disabilities which will go to making the wishes of special needs children come true. 

JPOs Clint Schweers and Derrick Henderson from Circuit 14 and several of the youth in their care participated in a baby supply drive for Chipola Healthy Start. Youth earned credit toward community service hours and increased their  understanding of the importance of helping others while also addressing a serious economic need.

Last Sunday, JPO Kimberly Dandeneau and SJPO Lesa Regan attended a community service project at The Science Center in St. Petersburg, which was designed to allow youth in their care to earn valuable community service hours. The youth assisted in creating and expanding the Science Center’s garden, which includes several types of vegetables. This garden is not only used to grow vegetables, which will be used for purposes to support the local community, it is used as a site to assist kids and young adults in learning aspects of growing and maintaining their own gardens.



Assistant Chief Donna Butt from Circuit 6 attended a community forum last Wednesday hosted by Eckerd Community Alternatives in Pinellas and Pasco counties. The forum featured presentations and discussions to assist in finding solutions for current issues that impact our local foster care system. Several foster home parents and foster care youth spoke to the public on the importance of licensing more homes to serve more youth. 

JPO Jenny Clark from Circuit 20 played the role of Good Samaritan last Thursday when a car accident injured several passengers outside the Punta Gorda Probation office. Jenny was outside when the accident occurred and immediately rushed to the scene to lend aid and comfort to the victims until EMS arrived on scene. Jenny’s efforts went above and beyond and I would like to thank her for what she did. 

Last Saturday, SJPO Patricia Johnston and JPOSs Melissa Fuller and Mike Shoemaker from Circuit 6 worked in conjunction with youth in their care to clean up the teen center at the local Boys and Girls Club in Pasco County. The teen center hadn’t been used in several years and was overdue for a cleaning. The team also cleaned the main building, which community members use daily.  



On October 31, JPO Melissa Hogans participated as a volunteer at the annual Great Ridgecrest YMCA Community Fall Festival in Largo. The event included music, games and family activities for the community and featured many sponsors and community leaders. 

Last Friday, Reform Specialist Lut Clarcq from Circuit 20 attended the Hendry and Glades County Alliance Meeting at the Health Department in La Belle. This meeting is comprised of representatives from different agencies and is primarily hosted by the Department of Children and Families. Lut was nominated to be the Vice Chair of the Alliance. 

Twain Peebles of Youth Build visited Key West last week to present the Youth Build Introductory Forum to community leaders and DJJ. Billy Davis from A Positive Step of Monroe County is spearheading the project to bring Youth Build to the Florida Keys, which would provide DJJ youth with many more opportunities to earn valuable community service hours. Our agency has worked diligently with many community leaders in partnership to apply for a grant to bring this program to the Key West community.




Last Christmas, members of the New Port Richey Service Center in Circuit 6 worked collaboratively with the Healthy Start Coalition to collected gifts and funds to adopt-a family for the holidays. The family, comprised of a mother, father and three children, sent a thank you letter that was recently provided to the staff who participated; the following is a translation of the letter that had been written in Spanish: 



My dear angels,


I hope you are doing well. I am writing to tell you the following:



I may not have the words to tell you how grateful for all you have given my children and ourselves, but above all the happiness my children felt when they received in this Christmas such precious gifts that they have never had and that now you have made them smile with happiness and emotion.



The Christmas time for us was sad and we would only be grateful to have a simple meal and to give thanks to God of the health and a new sunrise, but now I’m going to give thanks to God to bless you and provide health for being so good and many “thank yous” from our heart.



With all our love from our children and ourselves.


Thank you very much and God bless today and Always,


The C. Family 


Though this letter comes to us so long after the event, it comes in time to remind us of the importance of the holiday season and the reward of giving to others.

SJPO Dennis Massey from Circuit 14 has announced his retirement effective November 29. Dennis has served with the state of Florida for more than 35 years and has shown great concern for the youth in his care, their families and his co-workers. Dennis has served in a leadership capacity for some time now, most recently as the safety team coordinator and a peer reviewer on several Quality Improvement teams. His presence will be truly missed and on behalf of the entire agency I would like to thank him for his many years of professional service and the impact he has left on the youth in his care. 

(left to right) Assistant State Attorney Quentin Broxton, Assistant Public Defender Jeannie Moore and Sr. JPO Dennis Massey


Human Trafficking Update

Human Trafficking Coordinator Tyson Elliot spoke at a lunch and learn at the Department of Education on Tuesday about the trafficking of children in Florida. Approximately 20 employees from DOE headquarters were on hand to eat lunch and listen to Tyson speak on the matter of trafficking. After lunch, the group participated in a live webinar with district level staff, teachers, guidance counselors, nurses and Department of Health personnel.


Detention Officer Graduation & Update

Congratulations to the juvenile justice detention officers (JDOs) who graduated today! Thanks to Alachua Regional Juvenile Detention Center (RJDC) Superintendent Forrest Hallam, Okaloosa RJDC Superintendent Victoria Lenentine and Manatee RJDC Assistant Superintendent Katanga Perkins for addressing the Alachua, Crestview and Hillsborough Community College graduating classes, respectively. Kudos to the Staff Development and Training Deputy Director Cina Wilson-Johnson, Senior Learning Consultant Duane Pace and Learning Consultant Kiva Hagans, who trained the officers for this position of critical responsibility. The officers will serve in the RJDC listed next to their names.

Alachua JDO Class # 13-102


Front row (left to right):  Maurice Corbett-Duval RJDC, Jacqueline Almodovar-Marion RJDC, Shayla Green-Duval RJDC, Diannah Williams-Duval RJDC, Kathleen Bell-Marion RJDC



Second row:  Everline Holt-Duval RJDC, Joshua Nichols-Marion RJDC, Cawan Bryant-Alachua RJDC, Latayvia Henderson-Alachua RJDC, Latrice Barron-Marion RJDC



Back row:  Michael Lemon-Duval RJDC, Anthony Showell-Alachua RJDC, Germaine Brown-Alachua RJDC, Kevin Doepel-Duval RJDC, Anthony Roberts-Alachua RJDC

Crestview JDO Class # 13-103



Left side (l-r):  Jervais Dunson-Escambia RJDC, Chad Frazier-Okaloosa RJDC, Shirley Sigler-Escambia RJDC, Daryl Sims-Bay RJDC, Spencer Turner-Bay RJDC, Dennis Spradlin-Bay RJDC



Ride side:  Clyde Mathis-Bay RJDC, Ashley Rogers-Bay RJDC, James Mills-Bay RJDC, Cynthia Lowery-Okaloosa RJDC, Troy Cook-Okaloosa RJDC, Joshua Branch-Bay RJDC, Timothy Boddorf-Escambia RJDC

Hillsborough Community College JDO Class # 13-H188



Front row (l-r):  Shamery Fernandez-Pinellas RJDC, Monica Hale-Manatee RJDC, Cheryl Stevenson-Pinellas RJDC, LaShaunda Pate-Hillsborough RJDC, Deondra Rubin - Pinellas RJDC



Second row:  William Boggs-Hillsborough RJDC, Daniel Gelin-Pinellas RJDC, Marlo Johnson-Pinellas RJDC, Cynthia Salvador-Branch-Manatee RJDC, Henrietta Gilchrist-Manatee RJDC. Melvin Davis-Hillsborough RJDC


Back row:  Chris Barber-Pasco RJDC, Timothy deBakker-Pinellas RJDC, Jason Murphy-Pinellas RJDC, Benny Butler-Manatee RJDC, Danny Bess-Manatee RJDC, Edward Walker-Manatee RJDC, Reginald Queen-Pasco RJDC

The Detention Services Regional Directors met this week in Tallahassee (pictured above with Assistant Secretary of Detention Services Julia Strange and Jeff Wenhold, Chief of Policy Development and Planning – Detention Services). Agenda items included, but were not limited to, detention reform, behavior management, personnel, training, food service and workforce related issues.  All regions continue to report the significant strides made by officers to transform the environments within each center, as well as promote a trauma-informed culture for youth and their families.  Detention Services is to be commended for the numerous changes they have made and are continuing to make in our centers.

Congratulations to Duval Assistant Superintendent Darrell Johnson on his promotion to Superintendent effective 11/15/2013. Mr. Johnson began his tenure with the Department in 1999 as a Detention Care Worker 1.  He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Edward Water College in Jacksonville, Florida. He is the proud father of two daughters;  Jasmine 18 and Kionna 13.  Throughout his tenure with the Department he has served a number of roles at St. Johns, Alachua, and Duval Detention Centers.  He is recognized as a leader among his peers and a true champion of children. (Pictured:  North Region Detention Chief

Sheddrick Brooks congratulates Duval Superintendent Darrell Johnson on his promotion.)

Residential Update

The Cypress Creek Juvenile Offender Correctional Center (G4S), a maximum-risk, residential program for males, ages 13 to 21, created a gardening program and recently picked their first batch of vegetables.  

Mr. Rosado (shown left) works alongside the science teacher to teach the youth a trade that will last a lifetime.  After the first harvest, the youth enjoyed sampling their crops in the dining hall as part of their meal.

The Okeechobee Juvenile Offender Corrections Center (G4S), a high- and maximum-risk program for males, ages 13 to 21, provides a Microsoft Office Skills (MSI) course and a certification course for the youth in the program.  Shown left is a photo of two young men who are taking the MSI course and are standing in front of a projected version of the first slide they created.  On the right is A.Z., who wants to be a Marine, and on the left is N.D., who wants to be an auto mechanic.


Students who enrolled in the MSI course gain the skills and knowledge needed not only to earn a Microsoft Office Specialist Certification, but the skills and knowledge needed to help them apply in a business environment what they learn in the classroom.  This certification is achievable because the MSI course is organized in a user-friendly format that allows the students to learn at their own pace.  The lessons are organized into topics, labs and simulations.


In an effort to assist their fellow students with easy ways to navigate through Microsoft Office, the boys created a PowerPoint presentation for them to use. The slideshow was presented to Debbie Gries (DJJ-HQ, Residential Services), Facility Administrator Michael Slayton, and G4S leadership team members Brian Neupaver, George Newsome and Jeff Turizcek.

Finally, I would like to share a poem that was sent to us through the residential program at the Okeechobee Girls Academy. This powerful message was written by one of the girls at the facility and provides us with a message of hope born through the consequences of her past actions. I have no doubt that this girl will use that creative spirit to turn around her life.


Not Alone


By S.T., Okeechobee Girls Academy


What if I told you


You were not alone.


You were not the only one


Who went down this rode


Running away and counting the days


Spent in DJJ.


Committing crimes and doing time


It’s just a part of the daily grind.


But it’s not all fun when you are sent


Away and realize what you have done,


To not only yourself but the ones you love.



When you realize they sit up, at night


Worrying if you are safe and alright


Or even if you ate that night.  When


You see what you have done to yourself


You realize that you can no longer be.


A normal teen.



Putting yourself in harm’s way just


Because you think you are grown


And want to run away and be


On your own.


I know we don’t all have the


Same stories.  But don’t let your


Past or your parents define who


You are today.


Wellness Wire


I encourage all of you to read the November edition of The Wellness Wire which provides calendars of events hosted by the providers of Florida State Group Insurance. This newsletter also gives tips to improve health and wellbeing. With the holidays fast approaching, this is something for us all to keep in mind. To read the newsletter, click here.