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Secretary's Message

August 10, 2015

Secretary Daly’s Weekly Letter

The summer is beginning to wind down and before we know it schools will be back in session!  I encourage you all to take advantage of the Florida Tax Free Holiday that is currently underway to prepare the students in your lives for another successful school year! 

As always, our DJJ team and providers have been hard at work serving Florida’s at-risk youth and families.   I hope you will take a moment to read the stories about the accomplishments of our agency staff, our colleagues, and the youth in our care. 

As always, I am always looking for opportunities to showcase 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.


Christina K. Daly

Florida Tax-Free Holiday 

I would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone to make sure that Florida’s students start the year off right by taking advantage of the 2015 Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday which began last Friday and will continue through August 16. Education is a key factor in keeping kids out of the juvenile justice system, and being prepared is critical to their academic success.  Research shows that children and teens who stay in school are less likely to make contact with the juvenile justice system. 

Due to the success of recent sales tax holidays, the Florida Legislature passed legislation this year to extend the tax-free holiday from its original three day period to nine full days of tax free shopping. During this period, no Florida sales tax or local option tax will be collected on sales of clothing, footwear, and certain accessories selling for $100 or less per item, on certain school supplies selling for $15 or less per item, and on the first $750 of the sales price for computers and certain computer-related accessories when purchased for noncommercial home or personal use.

Civil Citation Team Heads to Kentucky

Florida led a team to Kentucky this week to explore how the Civil Citation Initiative might be implemented there.  Gainesville Police Chief Tony Jones, Manager of Miami-Dade JSD Custody and Diversion Services Latawun Bess, DMC Coordinator Josh Kuch, and Civil Citation Coordinator Theda Roberts presented Florida’s process and helped the group explore how it could work within Kentucky’s infrastructure.  Individual stakeholder groups including law enforcement, public defenders, state attorneys, YMCA/Safe Place, Court personnel, Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice staff and the Louisville Metro Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee met with the Florida Team, which did a superb job presenting civil citation from  law enforcement, juvenile assessment center, minority contact and overall perspectives.  It is expected that Florida will continue to be a resource as Kentucky moves forward. 

Thank you to the Louisville Metro Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee for inviting us and sponsoring our visit!  

Palm Beach RJDC Site Visit

On Tuesday, I traveled to West Palm Beach for a tour of the Palm Beach Regional Juvenile Detention Center (PBRJDC). Thank you to the staff for a welcoming and warm visit! 
The PBRJDC is a facility that serves youth detained by various circuit court(s). Youth are detained pending adjudication, disposition or placement in commitment facility. The facility provides supervision of youth in a safe, secure and humane environment. Services for youth include: education, mental health, substance abuse, and health care. Medical and mental health are contracted services. Educational services are funded by the Department of Education through local school districts.

Pictured left to right – Secretary Daly, Captain Cornelia Burden, Captain Kimbley Jacobs and Major Douglas Kane.

Detention Update

The Monroe RJDC has recently teamed up with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department for a monthly program with farm animals. The Sheriff’s Office houses all sorts of animals, many of whom come from abusive or neglectful homes or donated by persons who simply can’t care for them any longer. Each month, farmer Jeanne Selander brings a few of the animals over for an informative session which is followed by questions and answers about the animals she displays. The next day our teachers at the facility come up with a lesson plan related to the animals that visited. This past presentation featured a sloth, alligator, ferret, a skunk and a hedgehog.

The Office of Detention Services is piloting a family engagement email program with the hope of increasing correspondence between parents and their children. This pilot will take place in four of our detention centers including: Escambia, Hillsborough, Manatee and Monroe and will provide parents and guardians information on how they can email their child during their stay in detention. Information regarding Florida’s broad public records law will also be provided to ensure parents can make an informed decision regarding this type of communication with their child. Detention Services will pilot this program for three months and anticipates statewide implementation prior to the holiday season.

Prevention Update

Ten youth and three staff members from the North Carolina Outward Bound FINS program, a DJJ Prevention provider, completed a service project on June 29 at the Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Key Largo. The students worked with Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge Manager Jeremy Dixon. The students helped to disassemble a rotting dock to restore the area to its natural state.  They also removed invasive plants that were growing in the area.  The students worked hard and enjoyed seeing how much they could accomplish in just a few hours!  

North Carolina Outward Bound Schools (NCOBS) has been offering challenging outdoor programs for nearly 50 years. Their unique approach of ‘learning by doing’ taught by skilled educators has long made them the leader in outdoor education. NCOBS helps teens and their families transition their lives in more meaningful and positive directions. NCOBS emphasizes character development, academic achievement and social responsibility to reduce the risk of dropping out of school, substance abuse and future delinquency. Programs consist of 20-day wilderness expeditions and a 20 to 24-day follow up component that takes place in the students’ home and school environments. 

Special Projects Administrator Eugene Morris and Delinquency Prevention Specialist Onazina Washington attended the “My Home, My Community, My Responsibility Festival,” sponsored by Crime Stoppers of the Big Bend on August 1 at the Providence Community Center in Tallahassee. Eugene spoke on a panel titled “The Impact of Crime,” where he discussed DJJ reform initiatives and prevention strategies. Other panelists included Retired First District Court of Appeals Judge Nikki Clark and Norman Billups, Case Manager from the Tallahassee Police Department. Also speaking were Dianne Williams, Founder of Girls Rule; Franzley Moise, President of the Tallahassee National Panhellenic Council and Tonette Graham, President of the Florida A&M University Student Government and member of the Board of Trustees.

The festival was designed to offer crime prevention tips to youth. It featured a health care showcase, exercises and workshops on interacting with law enforcement, parenting, cyber-bullying, finances, budgeting, step show and vendors. Luther Campbell (also known as Uncle Luke), rapper, businessman, record label owner, made a celebrity guest appearance. He offered motivational information and crime prevention tips to youth.

On July 29, Delinquency Prevention Specialist Lydia Breaux-Davis attended a Bridging the G.A.A.P. meeting at the Florida Department of Health in Jackson County. The purpose of the conversation was to have a discussion between youth, law enforcement, health officials and community stakeholders on issues impacting youth in Jackson County. Attendees included members from Panhandle Area Educational Consortium, Chipola Healthy Start, Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, Florida Department of Health as well as DJJ Probation, Prevention and Residential staff.

Lydia also attended a Bridging the G.A.A.P. Conference on July 28 at the Brownsville Community Center in Pensacola. The conference was part of a 3-day Crime Prevention Summit sponsored by the Escambia County Sheriff Office. Speakers included Circuit 1 Chief Probation Officer Paul Wallis and newly appointed Pensacola Police Chief David Alexander, Pensacola’s first African-American Chief of Police. The conference was designed to bring together crime prevention experts, community leaders and policy makers in an effort to reduce crime.  

In the above photos are attendees at the Jackson County GAAP discussion. Among the agencies represented were the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, DJJ Probation and Detention. The meeting was co-sponsored by the Florida Department of Health.

Probation Update

DJJ Staff members in Circuit 16 participated in the National Night Out event sponsored by the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office on August 5. National Night Out is an opportunity to meet neighbors and members of the sheriff’s office, as well as others who are involved in public safety in the Florida Keys. The goal of National Night Out is to bring together the community to discuss how to make neighborhoods cleaner, safer and more secure.

Circuit 19 Probation Staff members participated in the re-opening of the local Boys and Girls club along with Kids at Hope. The Club had been closed for nearly two weeks due to severe vandalism and theft. Local community leaders including Fort Pierce Mayor Linda Hudson, St. Lucie County Commissioner Todd Mowery, Sheriff Ken Mascara and incoming Fort Pierce Police Chief Diane Hobley-Burney were all in attendance as well as representatives from the local fire department and the Children’s Services Council. Summer campers from the Fort Pierce PAL program were on hand to enjoy the event.

From the left: Chief Probation Officer Wydee’a Wilson, Assistant Chief Dorothy Malik, Reform Specialist Michelle Simpson, JPO Melyn Pauline and JPO Nissia Moore.

The Dixie County Anti-Drug Coalition Youth Leadership Team spoke at the Circuit 3 Advisory Board Meeting on July 22 at the Lake City Police Department. The students from the Youth Leadership Team assist with different community projects throughout the year in an effort to develop their leadership skills.

In the picture starting on the front left are Dixie Anti-Drug Coalition member, Angie Land, Student, T.H., North Region Director, Jill Clemens, Student, W.L., back row, Chief Probation Officer, Tom Witt,  and Student, K.V.

Our JPOs see the positive actions of law enforcement every day. Last week, SJPO Tianna Greene from Circuit 5 was driving by Ocala Police Sargent Erica Hay. While buying breakfast for herself, Sargent Hay decided to buy an extra sandwich with coffee and share it with a homeless man. Tianna saw these events unfold and decided to take a picture to show her daughter about the compassion of law enforcement. After sharing with her daughter, Tianna posted the picture to social media and it instantaneously went viral showing up through several media outlets and even landed Sargent Hay an interview on FOX News. Tianna said that she was glad to share a positive side of law enforcement with the world and wants Sargent Hay to know that her act of kindness did not go unnoticed. 

Probation and detention staff members in Circuit 7 meet each year to compete in an evening of bowling to try and win bragging rights for their respective offices. This year, probation won the trophy back from the staff at the Volusia RJDC and will keep the trophy for one year. All told there were six teams who participated in this event. Events like these help instill team unity throughout DJJ.

SJPO Aaron Rivas from Circuit 9 partnered with Valencia College to participate in the 32nd National Night Out festivities at Ivey Lane Park in Orlando. Aaron worked with Valencia College Transitions Coordinator Bernard Huggins to give the community information concerning Valencia and DJJ. Both men promoted staying out of trouble, making the right choices and selecting the right friends to achieve their goals. 

NATW is a network of law enforcement agencies, neighborhood watch groups, civic groups, state and regional crime prevention associations and concerned citizens. Through that network, NATW was able to launch the annual National Night Out campaign. 

National Night Out is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, better places to live. Together, we are making that happen.

I am pleased to share this story regarding one of our probationary youth from Project Connect. This young man used his time there to help prepare himself for college. It reads: 

One of the youth formerly on my Project Connect case load who successfully graduated our program has been on my mind the last few weeks, so I stopped by his house today to check on him. And, as I expected, he is doing awesome! He was successfully released at the end of November 2014, I don't remember the exact date. He was one of the kids that received a HP Computers in Transition Program computer during the program and was allowed to keep it when he successfully discharged. While in our program, he was the best kid I'd worked with in a while. He was eager to learn, make positive changes, and make something of himself. He played sports for his high school and wanted to play in college. So naturally I paired him with Jonathan, a Project Connect Life Coach who had played college sports himself. Jonathan was a perfect match.  He mentored the youth about the need to keep his grades up and the importance of taking the ACT and SAT and landing a qualifying score. Back in January, I got a call from him saying he did well on both tests and was excited to see if he could possibly go to college on scholarship. Well, the long story short is, when I stopped by his house today, he saw me walking up to the door and he ran out and gave me a big hug while yelling "I'm going to college!" He has earned a scholarship to run track at a small college in North Carolina! I asked if the computer we gave him was still working well and with a big smile on his face he said "of course it is!" He told me how useful the computer was to him finishing high school and how he will be taking it with him on August 14th when he leaves for college. He thanked me over and over for the help "Mr. Jonathan" and I offered him and for the computer Project Connect awarded him. He said that without earning the computer from us, he probably would not have been able to buy one for a while and would have hurt his chances at the scholarship. Hearing and seeing my kids doing well and being so excited about going to college reminds me why we do what we do! It definitely made my day!   

Juvenile Justice Officer Academy Graduation Ceremony

Congratulations to the juvenile justice detention officers (JDOs) and juvenile justice probation officers (JPOs) who graduated on August 7, 2015, in separate ceremonies at DJJ headquarters, in Tallahassee, and Miami Dade Detention Center, in Miami. Thanks to Christina K. Daly, Secretary, Florida Department of Juvenile Justice for delivering the graduation address to the Florida Public Safety Institute class at DJJ headquarters, and to Dr. Gladys Negron, South Regional Detention Director, for addressing the graduating class in Miami. Kudos to Learning Consultants Christina Ash and Artavia Parrish of the Office of Staff Development and Training (SD&T) and instructor Denise Cannon (Miami-Dade) who trained the officers for this position of critical responsibility. The officers will work in the facility or circuit listed next to their names.

Miami-Dade JDO Class

Front row (left to right):  Artavia Parrish (Instructor), Inderia Arthur — Collier Regional Juvenile Detention Center (RJDC), Latoya Levy —  Collier RJDC, Shacarra Thomas —  Palm Beach RJDC, Denise Cannon (Instructor)

Middle Row L-R: Alan Salman — Palm Beach RJDC, Boris Valcin  — Miami-Dade RJDC, Marvin Glover —  Broward RJDC, Donald Colas —  Broward RJDC, Derrick Clarke —  Palm Beach RJDC

Back Row:  Delano Dawkins — Palm Beach RJDC, Lafredo Brady — Miami-Dade RJDC, Keandrew Sands — Miami-Dade RJDC, Chaz Chisolm —Miami-Dade RJDC, Cordero Hooper — Collier RJDC

Florida Public Safety Institute JPO Class

Middle Row L-R: Camella Bonnick — Circuit 2, Henry Wilson — Circuit 4, Alexander Lubin — Circuit 13, Kelly Baldwin — Circuit 8,  Kathleen Driscoll — Circuit 20, Crystal Brown — Circuit 19, Teresa Perez — Circuit 13, Dollie Wygant — Circuit 5, Matthew Boutwell — Circuit 9

Back Row L-R: Natasha Taylor — Circuit 9, William Wilson — Circuit 4, Ebony Cason — Circuit 8, Shamika Lewis — Circuit 13, Jerome Hardison — Circuit 9, James Blanchet — Circuit 14, Scott Gergen —Circuit 10, Ryan Dorenbush — Circuit 5

Residential Update

The JUST (Juvenile Unit for Specialized Treatment) program is a non-secure residential mental health treatment facility for males between the ages of 13 and 17, which is operated by Twin Oaks Juvenile Development, Inc.  Last month, JUST Director Donald Lassiter received the following letter of appreciation from the Calhoun-Liberty Ministry Center for the many hours of volunteer service provided by the boys in the program.

In late-June, the Orange Youth Academy and the Orlando Intensive Youth Academy (OYA/OIYA)—non-secure commitment programs for males, ages 12 to 18, which are located in Orange County and operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC—assisted a number of students in completing job applications in preparation of transitioning home.

On July 1, Transitional Services Manager Latoya May received a call from the manager of the Chipotle Mexican Grill to schedule an interview with the young man shown in the photo below.  

He vigorously practiced interviewing with Mrs. May and members of the educational staff in preparation of his first job interview.  He completed the interview on July 6 and successfully completed his commitment placement on July 14.  After the job interview, Mrs. May asked him, “What did you think about the entire process?”  

The young man replied, “I am just thankful that I got the interview and that Orange Youth Academy prepared me for this opportunity.”  

The last week of July, the students of OYA/OIYA participated in the 12th Annual “Back to School Day” Festival sponsored by the Caribbean Community Connection of Central Florida, Inc. 

The students and staff of OYA/OIYA helped this not-for-profit organization by giving away book bags filled with pencils, paper, and colored pencils.  The OYA/OIYA students also assisted festival patrons by handing out water and snacks to those standing in line for school supplies.  
More than 600 residents attended the event to receive school supplies.  It was a great learning experience for the OYA/OIYA youth.  

The summer was busy for the residents of the Melbourne Center for Personal Growth (MCPG), a non-secure program for males, ages 13 to 18, which is operated by AMIkids, Inc.  The students diligently practiced and prepared for participation in the Annual AMIkids Summer Challenge Event.  The young men engaged in rigorous workouts with Director of Operations George Woods in preparation for athletic competitions against students from other AMIkids programs from Florida, Louisiana, and South Carolina.  Under the tutelage of MCPG Science Instructor Ruby Kehayias, the students also spent countless hours in the weeks before the event studiously conducting various experiments to support the topic “What Effect Does a Change in Ocean Salinity Have on Ice Cap Melting?”  The boys’ enthusiasm and excitement were contagious as they prepared to travel the first week of June to Orangeburg, South Carolina, and to compete against their peers in the event’s various scholastic and athletic competitions.  

Considered the AMIkids Summer Olympics, the MCPG residents’ valiant efforts resulted in the following awards: 
• 1st Place in Creative Writing
• 2nd Place in the Science Project Competition  
• 2nd Place in the Pool Medley
• 2nd Place in the 4 x 4 – 100-Meter Race
• 3rd Place in the Marlin Spike

Ten days later, the 10 students who participated in the Summer Challenge Event were rewarded for their great sportsmanship and scholastic achievements with an outing to the 22nd Annual Mascot Games presented by Wawa, benefiting New Hope for Kids that was held at the Amway Center in Orlando.

The students—accompanied by MCPG Executive Director Cedric Cliatt, AMIkids, Inc. Board Chairman Don Herndon, and four MCPG staff members—were given the distinct privilege of using the Harris Corporation Luxury Skybox to comfortably watch the antics and rivalry amongst various mascots from all genres of sports, including the MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL, NCAA, and the Arena Football League.  The students were elated and grateful for such a once-in-a lifetime opportunity, enjoying the Gladiator-style games.  

Walk of Honor Brick Program

The Florida Veterans Foundation is spearheading a “Walk of Honor” Brick Promotion to recognize the 1.5 million veterans that live and work in the state of Florida. These bricks will not only honor those veterans who served our country, but the proceeds will go to assisting veterans and their families who are in need. Governor Scott, legislators, agency heads and veterans and their families who purchased bricks will be invited to a ceremony to present the bricks during the Veterans Day festivities at the State Capitol on November 11. 

All the bricks up to the first 1,500 sold will be in the Medal Of Honor Node, which is the centerpiece between the State Capitol and the State Senate. In return for the sale of the bricks, the Florida Veterans Foundation will be able to provide much greater emergency financial relief support to veterans and its tax deductible to you.