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Secretary's Message

May 2, 2018

Secretary Daly’s Weekly Letter 

We are one month away from the start of the 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season and if last year’s active hurricane season taught us anything, it’s that it is never too early to prepare. It is important we take steps now to safeguard and protect our families in the event of a natural disaster. Good preparation involves having a good plan and communicating that plan to our family members and friends so we know what to do when the time comes. I highly encourage you to review the information on the Florida Division of Emergency Management’s website: http://floridadisaster.org/family/ where you can find helpful tips on how to prepare your home and family for storm season. 

Through careful planning and preparation, we can all take steps now to be fully ready in the event of any type of natural disaster. Please take the time now and make the necessary preparations to ensure you are ready and able for the upcoming storm season.


Christina K. Daly

Staff Announcement and Kudos

Congratulations to Circuit 13 Senior Juvenile Probation Officer Donna Oliver who was named the Office of Probation’s Employee of the Quarter for the Central Region during a recent circuit wide meeting. Officer Oliver was recognized for her exemplary work by continuously going above and beyond in her day-to-day duties. She always steps up to the plate helping others within the circuit as well as performing back up duties for the supervisor when needed.

Pictured above (from left to right): Central Probation Director Cathy Lake and SJPO Donna Oliver. 

Congratulations to Fiscal Assistant Randi Greene from the Manatee Regional Juvenile Detention Center who was recently named the facility’s Employee of the Month for the month of February. Greene was presented a certificate and gift card from Major Terry Carter who thanked her for all she does for the facility.

Pictured above (from left to right): Major Terry Carter and Randi Greene

Congratulations to Food Service Worker Carlos Torres from the Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center for being named the facility’s Food Service Employee of the Quarter. Mr. Torres has been described by his fellow co-workers as friendly, courteous and always working. He goes the extra mile to get things done and always has a positive attitude.

Pictured above (from left to right): Carlos Torres and Major Adrian Mathena

Congratulations to Carlos Silva and Shoban Karuppasamy for being recognized as the Information Technology (IT) Employees of the Month for March 2018.  Each month, IT recognizes one employee from headquarters and one from the field using a peer nomination process.  Being nominated by their peers speaks volumes to their work ethic and dedication to this agency.

Congratulations to Juvenile Probation Officers (JPOs) Richard Lawton, Dennie Ledford and Jonathan Gelatt from Circuit 8 who were recognized as the circuit’s Employees of the Quarter for the first quarter of 2018. The awards ceremony took place during the Circuit’s quarterly meeting at Camp Anderson in Old Town. All three JPOs were recognized by Chief Probation Officer Rebecca Rogers and Assistant Chief Sandi Brannan for demonstrating outstanding leadership abilities by taking on additional cases and responsibilities.

Juvenile Probation Officer Academy Graduation Ceremony

Christina Ash, Learning Consultant with the Office of Staff Development and Training welcomed all guest and attendees to the Central Region Juvenile Probation Officer (JPO) Graduation held in Clearwater on 4-20-18 as well as introduction of speakers and presentation of certificates. Special thank you to Deputy Secretary Timothy Niermann for being the guest speaker and Central Region Director Cathy Lake for being the closing speaker at the Central Region JPO Academy Graduation. Congratulations to all graduates for the completion of the academy! Special kudos to Adjunct Instructor Michele Hancock for a job well done. We also want to thank Stephanie McKenzie from Probation Headquarters for assisting.  

Photo L to R:

Regional Director Cathy Lake, Deputy Secretary Timothy Niermann, Justine Hagans (C-6), Henry Valdes (C-13), Tyler Decrapio (C-10), Cardel Hopkins (C-13), G. Rennheck (C-6), Emanuel Saintlouis (C-12), Jashayla Brown (C-10), Shamina Royal (C-10), Nicholle Bates (C-13), Ryan Lemay (C-16), Chief Alison Fulford (C-10), Chief Melissa Fuller (C-6), Assistant Chief Amy Stiles (C-10).

Seated: Xavier Bowie (C-13), Erin McGowen (C-6), Cameron Hawkins (C-6), Christopher Rhodes (C-6),  Cynthia Chand (C-6). JPO Andrielys Benitez Torres (C-10) was unable to attend the graduation.

Florida Juvenile Justice Foundation Assists With Kids & Canines Program

As part of their mission to positively change the lives of youth, the Florida Juvenile Justice Foundation (FJJF) assists the Kids & Canines program with their therapy dog certifications. Kids & Canines is a service animal training program that provides socialization and initial training for a dog who will then transition into a full-scale serving animal training program.

Recently, the girls at the Hillsborough Girls Academy (HGA) piloted the Kids & Canines program and trained a dog by the name of Rex. At 6 months, he went to the HGA where the girls spent 6 months training and caring for Rex. Rex was evaluated and met all requirements of the Canine Good Citizen Certification. Rex was placed with a family who was not only looking for a dog but one that could help a family member who was in the special forces and suffers from PTSD. You can read more about Rex and his owner’s story here: WFLA TV.

Another dog, Lucy was rescued from a shelter where she was scheduled to be euthanized and is following in Rex’s footsteps and is being trained by the girls at HGA

Probation Staff and Provider Procure a Musical Instrument for a Deserving Youth

Probationary youth J.S., who is under the care of Circuit 2 Juvenile Probation Officer (JPO) Heather Hawkins, is a very talented trumpet player. He picked the instrument up in middle school and continued to fine tune his craft through most of his high school career. Unfortunately, his trumpet was stolen from him and once the trumpet was gone, so was the joy in his life and trouble quickly followed. He made contact with DJJ and soon became involved with the Project Connect program.

J.S. worked hard while under the supervision of probation. He earned his GED and applied for a scholarship to Tallahassee Community College. Still, the music was gone which worried his Transition Specialist Angie Layerd. Ms. Layerd and Project Connect Executive Director Tony Read reached out to MusicMasters, a local Tallahassee musical shop. Store manager Blake Bosarge was very eager to help and offered J.S. a newly refurbished trumpet, case and maintenance kit. Ms. Layerd took J.S. and his mother to lunch to celebrate his GED accomplishment and afterwards asked if she could take them to a music store to hear him play. J.S. did not know that he would be given his own trumpet, nor that an audience consisting of JPO Hawkins, Director Read, Circuit 2 Chief Probation Officer David Cornuet and Assistant Chief Probation Officer Rico Cooper were waiting in the back room to hear him play.

After playing for his fans, Mr. Bosarge informed J.S. and his mother that the trumpet was his, which turned into a very emotional moment for all involved. On behalf of DJJ, I would like to thank MusicMasters and Mr. Bosarge for their donation and all of our team members who helped to make this possible.

Judge Michael Allen and the Escambia County Juvenile Justice Council recently held a Youth Success Night to recognize successful youth in Escambia County. Project Connect had three current clients and two former clients recognized for their outstanding accomplishments while in transition services.  One of those clients, Youth H.F. has been especially successful and is on track to complete all GED pre-testing to take the GED in entirety in May. Most importantly, Youth H.F. has been a wonderful mother and perfect role model for her precious 2-year-old daughter.  Youth H.F. is a resilient young lady who sets goals for herself and is highly successful in achieving them.  She is building a very bright future for herself and her daughter. 

The Escambia County Juvenile Justice Council Co-Chair Dr. Rick Branch and Master of Ceremony Jesse Ruiz welcomed everyone to the ceremony. Lt. Jimmy Donohoe, Pensacola Police Department, was the keynote speaker. Also in attendance that evening was Delinquency Prevention Specialist Carmen Lundy and Chief Probation Officer Paul Wallis

Circuit 16 Chief Probation Officer Elaine Thompson attended a meeting of the Monroe County Coalition on April 5 in Key West. The coalition welcomed officials from the National Drug Control Policy in Washington, D.C. The event featured over 30 local community stakeholders as well as local law enforcement. The meeting focused on law enforcement strategies, an overdose mapping system, the Department of Health’s strategic plan, school programs and youth leadership. The meeting was a great opportunity to share ideas and highlight the successes of Monroe County in fighting substance abuse.

Chief Thompson and members of the Monroe County Coalition also recently made a presentation entitled, “Know the Law,” to a group of 5th-8th grade students at Sigsbee Charter school in Key West. The students took a test before and after the presentation and gained valuable insight into the law as it relates to juveniles.

Project Connect Transition Coordinator Cheryl Smith recently paid a visit to the young ladies at Lake Academy in Tampa. She was completely impressed by their enthusiasm for their upcoming transition services. Mrs. Smith met and spent time with seven young ladies at the academy as she explained Project Connect services to them. The youth were very engaged in the presentation and were prepared with lot of questions for Mrs. Smith. Mrs. Smith was glad to see their enthusiasm and preparation and provided them with Project Connect literature to keep.

DJJ Probation staff in Circuit 1 recently helped a youth on their caseload with several items which he really needed. After talking to the youths’ mother, she told our officers that it was often difficult to provide clothing for the youth and his siblings. Our staff provided this young man with three new pair of shoes, socks, a belt, pants, a shirt and tie, backpack and school supplies and hygiene items. The youth and his mother were very appreciative and said that having these basic needs will keep him on track in school. 

The Circuit 2 Probation Office and the Leon Regional Juvenile Detention Center (RJDC) recently conducted a clean-up day at the detention center for probationary youth in need of community service hours. The day consisted of the youth cleaning various stations around the outside of the facility to beautify the center. Our thanks to the Home Depot who donated $50 towards the beautification project and Hungry Howie’s who donated eight pizzas to feed the youth who participated.

Pictured above: SGT Micah Youmas, SJPO Brittany Condry, SJPO Janyah Glenn, ACPO Rico Cooper, Major Conrad McCray, JPOS LaKisha Bush, JPOS Tiffany McGriff, RS Michael Byrd, Training Coordinator Gregory Bruton, SGT Deatric Beckton, SJPO Felicia Fowler, JPO Morale Durden, Intern Kayla Chenault and AA Isay Gulley.

The Circuit 2 Probation Office recently celebrated their administrative staff in recognition of Administrative Professionals Day. The office honored Administrative Assistant Kaprie Lee and Secretary Specialist Kimberly Graham, who both provide great support to our staff with hard work and dedication to DJJ’s mission. The office provided them with Bath & Body Works gifts as well as cake.

Prevention Staff Spearhead Toiletry Drive and Host G.A.A.P. Conversation

DJJ staff recently partnered with the Florida Council on Crime and Delinquency to support a toiletries drive for child sex trafficking survivors. The event was spearheaded by the Office of Prevention and Victim Services. DJJ headquarters staff collected bar soap, body wash, shampoo, conditioner, hair care products, toothpaste, tooth brushes and other toiletries. They also collected combs, brushes, feminine hygiene products, lotion, deodorant, shaving cream and dental floss; well over 100 items were collected.

According to the group Bridging Freedom Restoring Childhoods, at least 300,000 children in the U.S. are prostituted annually and Florida ranks number 3 in America in the number of calls received by the national human trafficking hotline. Child sex-trafficking is a horrific crime that causes significant physical, mental and emotional trauma. Thank you to the DJJ staff who supported and donated to this worthwhile cause.

Pictured above (from left to right): Assistant Secretary Sims, Prevention Specialist Cheryl Robinson, Federal Assistant Gloria Gatlin, Finance and Accounting Manager Marie Riou, Detention Manager Otis Ray, and Prevention Administrative Assistant, LaTonya Hill.

Delinquency Prevention Specialist Sandra Ferguson coordinated a Family G.A.A.P. (Gaining Appreciation by Adjusting Perspectives) conversation between families and law enforcement officers at the Church of God of Prophecy in Lehigh Acres. The purpose of the discussion was to bring families and law enforcement together to communicate in a relaxed atmosphere to learn and understand each other.

The discussion involved five families and nine experienced and engaging law enforcement professionals from the Lee County Sheriff’s Office. The group included a captain, deputies, lieutenants, sergeant, a DJJ detention officer supervisor, a retired Master Corporal, a dedicated Watch Commander and an enthusiastic 36-member audience.

Families were encouraged to ask questions and did a phenomenal job asking about topics like community, safety, and law enforcement in general. The officers helped to create a welcoming and trusting environment, candidly showing how important the relationship is between the police and the public that they are entrusted to protect. The officers shared a lot about themselves personally and on situations regarding community, personal safety, and on changes in community policing.

The younger members that took part in the conversation opened up about school life and their communities. They shared that they have gained insight on community policing and look forward to a follow up discussion. 

DJJ staff members recently partnered with the Florida Council on Crime and Delinquency Chapter 2 for their annual golf tournament at the Seminole Golf Course in Tallahassee. FCCD strives to improve the criminal and juvenile justice systems by fostering interagency coordination and cooperation by developing policy issues, rendering training/technical assistance, by volunteering in local communities and helping the less fortunate.

Assistant Secretary for Prevention Alice Sims, Cheryl Howard with Prevention Services and Holly Queen with Incident Operating Center volunteered at the tournament.  IT Chief Dennis Hollingsworth, Inspector General Brian Donaldson, Harry Motley with the Central Communication Center and Gary Bussell with the Inspector General’s Office all participated. Marcus Smith with the Office of Prevention Services and Patrick Cruz with the Office of Finance and Accounting placed 2nd in the team rankings, each receiving individual trophies. Congratulations to both teams as they represented the department very well at the tournament. We are excited to continue the efforts and collaboration with FCCD as we work to reduce crime in our local communities throughout the state of Florida.

Back row (from left to right): Alice Sims, Assistant Secretary Prevention & Victim Services; Dennis Hollingsworth, Information Technology Office; Brian Donaldson, Inspector General’s Office; Harry Motley, Central Communications Center; and Gary Bussell, Inspector General’s Office.

Front row (from left to right): Cheryl Howard, Prevention Services and Holly Queen, Incident Operating Center.

Detention Facilities Celebrate Volunteers and Administrative Professionals

The Okaloosa Regional Juvenile Detention Center hosted a volunteer appreciation luncheon for their amazing mentors from Eglin Air Force Base. The mentors from Eglin enjoyed a meal with our youth which consisted of hamburgers and hot dogs. The lunch was highlighted by one of the youth reading a heartfelt message to the volunteers for all they have done to help them. After the meal, several of the mentors stayed around to play basketball with the kids.

The Leon Regional Juvenile Detention Center held a volunteer appreciation ceremony last week in the facility’s newly constructed multi-purpose room. Major Conrad McCray presented each volunteer with a certificate of appreciation and planting gifts to exemplify how they are sewing a seed in the youth at Leon.

The St. Lucie Regional Juvenile Detention (RJDC) Center hosted their volunteer appreciation luncheon on April 18. The center purchased gifts for each volunteer which included tumblers, travel mugs, multipurpose bags and pocket journals. The volunteers at St. Lucie RJDC provide a wide range of services including mentoring, arts and crafts, bible study, worship service and counseling.  Volunteers also assist youth with their release from secure detention by providing them with clothing and shoes. 

In addition to the luncheon, the center honored volunteer Betty Merricks with a special gift for her 28 years of volunteer service to St. Lucie RJDC.

St. Lucie RJDC also celebrated Administrative Professionals Day on April 25 with a luncheon for their Administrative Assistant Altha Smith. Ms. Smith has provided 44 years of dedicated service to our agency and to the state of Florida. To honor her and her many years of service, the staff provided lunch, flowers and a special gift.

The Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center celebrated Administrative Professionals Day on April 25 by acknowledging the hard work of their four administrative assistants: Valeeta Green, Sherry Barksdale, Sue Freiberg and Connie Dickson. Each administrative assistant was given a card of appreciation as well as a gift card and an edible arrangement to share.

Pictured above (from left to right): Valeeta Green, Sherry Barksdale, Sue Freiberg and Major Adrian Mathena.  (Not pictured: Ms. Connie Dickson).

Residential Youth Celebrate Graduation and Participate in Beach Clean-Up

Last week, the youth at Crestview Youth Academy a secure and non-secure program for boys, ages 13 to 21, operated by Youth Opportunity Investments, celebrated their outstanding accomplishment of graduating from the High School High Tech program. This program, which is operated by Goodwill Easter Seals of the Gulf Coast, meets twice a week and prepares the members with real life training and work force experience that they can apply into the real world. They are provided with college exposure and job readiness training that is imperative to success. Guest speakers come in frequently and provide classes that implement discipline, self-control, and perseverance. These six-youth proved themselves throughout the programing as exquisite leaders and men of distinction. They showed punctuality, responsibility, and dedication every class. Congratulations to these six young men in this amazing accomplishment! 

Crestview Youth Academy also partnered with their High School High Tech program to participate in a beach clean-up on Okaloosa Island. The clean-up is a community event organized yearly through the local community. The clean-up is designed to allow locals and tourists to come together and clean trash and debris off of the local beaches.

The group began at a beach access approximately 1.5 miles from their ending point and walked the beach with trash bags cleaning up trash. The youth were met about half-way by a local licensed lifeguard who was securing a flag pole with a red flag attached to it. The lifeguard explained what the red flag meant and explained the requirements of being a lifeguard and the training necessary to obtain employment as a lifeguard.

The group finished up the walk with approximately 3 bags of trash. The youth were able to meet the president of the beach clean-up event and spoke with him about future events. Overall, the boys thoroughly enjoyed the clean-up, the breath-taking view, and contributing to the community!

Hastings Comprehensive Mental Health Treatment Program and Gulf Academy, both ofsrc= which are non-secure programs for boys and are operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, hosted the Jacksonville Youth Academy in a game of flag football. After an action-packed game full of excitement, Jacksonville Youth Academy pulled out the victory. Both teams played well, left it all on the field, and showed great sportsmanship. Jacksonville Youth Academy has extended the invitation for a rematch and Hastings and Gulf Academy have accepted. They extend their gratitude to Mr. Owens, Mr. Hewitt, staff, and youth for coming out and having a good time.

Hastings and Gulf Youth Academy took advantage of the recent cool and windy weather to fly kites. One of the gracious dorm managers, Ms. Largacci brought in various kites to allow the youth to test their mettle in kite flying. Some of the youth were surprised at how much patience it took to get the kite in the air, but were rewarded for their efforts. They greatly appreciate Ms. Largacci for her efforts in helping to broaden the youth’s horizons.

Youth from Jacksonville Youth Academy spent a day supporting Edwards Waters College during their Annual Alumni Weekend Celebration. While on the campus, the youth were able to cheer on Jacksonville Youth Academy’s own AFA Daniel Hewitt, as he participated in the Annual Alumni Basketball Game. The youth also enjoyed watching the Tigers’ spring football game, interacting with different fraternities and campus organizations.

During spring break, the girls and staff at Central Pasco Girls Academy, a non-secure program for girls, ages 13 to 18, operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, conducted a "beautification" project on campus. The project included a facility wide Spring cleanup. The girls also spruced up the entry way with fresh flowers. The staff ended the day with an ice cream social as a reward for all of their hard work.

Central Pasco Girls Academy also recognized Therapist Jadell Patricio, TSM Breana Rubino, and Nurse Alicia Leach as Staff of the Quarter for their department. These three ladies consistently go above and beyond, take pride in their work, and are always willing to lend a helping hand.

Nurse Alicia Leach was also nominated as the 2017 Employee of the Year. During the year, the HSA position became vacant and Nurse Alicia stepped up to the plate. She took on the department head responsibilities and made sure all department policies and procedures were upheld. Nurse Alicia is a great asset to the CPGA Team.