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Secretary's Message

March 11, 2019

Department of Juvenile Justice’s Weekly Letter

Welcome to our weekly letter, with the latest on what’s going on and what the team is doing across the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice. I hope you will take a moment to read about the ways our DJJ staff, providers, and partners are working to improve the lives of Florida’s youth and families and how we are working to make our communities even better.

Please keep sharing your great work, successes, and accomplishments both on and off the clock in serving the youth, families, and communities touched by DJJ. Your stories inspire us all to do more. So, send your good news to news@djj.state.fl.us or call (850) 921–5900 by Thursday at noon.


Secretary Simone Marstiller


Staff Announcements and Kudos

Southwest RJDC Thomas Five Year WristbandMajor Dennis Driscoll from the Southwest Regional Juvenile Detention Center (RJDC) recently presented a special acknowledgement bracelet to Corporal Patrick Thomas for his many dedicated years of service to the center and our agency. Mr. Thomas has worn many hats with DJJ; he has been a facility training coordinator, transportation coordinator, field training officer and a certified PAR trainer. We wish Mr. Thomas many more good years with DJJ and thank him for his service.






Southwest RJDC Goodman Farewell Party

The Southwest RJDC also hosted a farewell party for Juvenile Detention Officer II Michelle Goodman, who is now the new facility training coordinator at the Collier RJDC. Officer Goodman’s co-workers surprised her with a party that included food and cake. Ms. Goodman, pictured right with Southwest RJDC’s Facility Training Coordinator Frelicia Davis, has been taking her cues from Ms. Davis and both officers have helped each other to become the best they can be. Although the Southwest Detention Center is sad to lose Ms. Goodman, they could not be prouder of her for dreaming and reaching her goal within our Department.






Congratulations to Darrell Phillips (Facility Services), Leann Gay (Purchasing & Leasing) and William Alexander (Support Services) (seen left) for being recognized as the General Services Employees of the Quarter! Each quarter during their bureau meeting, General Services recognizes an employee from each of their three sections. In addition to Employee of the Quarter, three individuals were presented with an Outstanding Service Award for their contributions throughout the year. Those individuals are: Leonard Bell, (Facility Services), John Bridgeman (Facility Services) and Tara Justice (Chief’s Office). We thank them all for their hard work and dedication to DJJ!

General Services EOC Winners General Services Outstanding Service Winners



Palm Beach RJDC- Brown EOMCongratulations to Sergeant Dennis Brown from the Palm Beach Regional Juvenile Detention Center for being named the February Employee of the Month. Sergeant Brown has been a dedicated employee and is the true definition of what it means to serve.











Pace Center for Girls Broward Implements Girls Circles

PACE Broward CirclesThe PACE Center for Girls of Broward County has implemented Girls Circles in the Broward County Regional Detention Center. Girls Circles provides a structured group that is gender responsive, trauma-informed, and strength-based in supporting the needs of detained girls and young women. Girls are given opportunities to use their voice and share with other girls their experiences, as well as engage in self-reflection and discuss future goals. Upon release from the detention center, girls are provided with resources and links to community providers and wraparound care. Pace Center for Girls continues to build partnerships and bring awareness to the unique developmental needs of girls through weekly facilitation of Girls Circles in the detention center.

Reach Program Coordinator Orlane Cameron and Reach Therapist Shirley Delmoral, facilitated the weekly Girls Circle Group. The girls participated and engaged in a group session focused on gratitude, honoring the female spirit, and identifying personal strengths. Facilitators engaged the girls within the group dynamic by guiding youth to explore effective ways to express gratitude through words, actions and positive affirmations. Facilitators also interacted with the girls through activities, which provided them with the opportunity to express their gratitude through communicating at least three or more attributes, qualities, people or things. Finally, the facilitators provided praise as positive reinforcement to the girls for seeking excellence within themselves and demonstrating the ability to articulate strengths in their peers within the group.



Prevention Specialist Carmen Lundy attended a community discussion entitled “Coming Together for Solutions: The Impact of Opiates and Other Drugs on Families,” at the Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola. The discussion was led by a panel of professionals and a community member. The community member, T.J., relayed her story about the trials she has experienced while supporting her substance abusing daughter and raising her grandchild. The audience provided questions and comments which enhanced the discussion. The prominent themes were the heartaches and financial burdens that grandparents experience raising their grandchildren whose parents have substance abuse issues and/or if they are paying for their children’s treatment. The grandparents were able to make connections with substance abuse providers, DCF and FFN for services. The consensus of the meeting was that more community discussions and trainings are needed. Specialist Lundy was in attendance to provide resource materials to guests at the discussion.

Prevention- Community Discussion Pensacola



Prevention- Pat Panel DiscussionDelinquency Prevention Specialist Pat McGhee served as a panel participant during a discussion entitled “Youth Concerns-Overcoming Obstacles” at the Historic Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in St. Petersburg. Ms. McGhee provided information on juvenile justice reform and prevention efforts in the community. The panel discussions focused on the school system and included student behavior, suspensions, academics, juvenile delinquency referrals, effectiveness of the G.A.A.P. Discussions, information on prevention services, and ways in which the community can help our agency. Additionally, a youth on the panel provided a testimonial on being a child previously involved in the juvenile system. The panel participation was in conjunction with the St. Petersburg District Conference’s West Coast Conference, which involved all African Methodist Episcopal churches on Florida’s west coast.


Assistant Secretary for Prevention and Victim Services Alice Sims and Training Director Yvonne Woodard attended the PACE Center for Girls of Leon County’s Believing in Girls luncheon at the Florida State University Alumni Center in Tallahassee. PACE Executive Director Kelly Otte presided over the program and this event was an opportunity for PACE Leon to celebrate their successes through real testimonials. Litzy Hernandez and Taniya Colson spoke of the challenges they were experiencing prior to coming to PACE Leon and how it helped them flourish with better grades, decision making, and confidence. Mr. Aaron Miller, a PACE parent, sought refuge for his daughter through PACE Leon and expressed gratitude to the PACE Leon staff..

This was a wonderful celebration of the PACE Leon girls who have worked so hard to make changes in their lives at a young age. PACE Leon and its leadership should be so proud of its efforts to empower young girls to women!

PACE Tallahassee Beliving in Girls Luncheon

Pictured above: Assistant Secretary Alice Sims and PACE Executive Director Kelly Otte pose with several PACE Leon girls


Prevention-Woodward Guest SpeakerOperations and Training Director Yvonne Woodard served as the inspirational speaker during the Mount Trial Primitive Baptist Church’s Annual Black History Program in Sopchoppy. Woodard speech entitled, “Enhancing Your Perspective for Today’s Living,” began with a brief history of the Black History Month movement and encouraged at least 50 parishioners, young and old, to recognize and preserve African American history as American history every day, not just once a year. Ms. Woodard encouraged those present to remember the courageous spirit that was demonstrated by African Americans as well as the spirit of perseverance and faith for each journey.






Probation Staff Organize Black History Month Luncheon

C 13 Black History Luncheon 2Juvenile Probation Officer Supervisor Vicki Vance and Juvenile Probation Officer Angenette Williams from Circuit 13, Unit 108 organized a Black History luncheon for their staff. The menu included a delicious assortment of food and various cakes for dessert. Although the team indicated it was a lot of hard work, the turnout was wonderful and was greatly appreciated by the staff.











C 13 Pancake TuesdayCircuit 13 Probation staff in Unit 108 recently organized a pancake breakfast in their office. “Pancake Tuesday” is part of Probation Advisory Team’s calendar of events and JPOS Vicki Vance and JPO Angenette Williams graciously provided the food for the breakfast.





Pictured above (from left to right): JPO
Patricia Locker and JPO Nicole Montalbano



Bureau of Contract Management Hold Annual Training

MQI Meeting 2 - Linda LynnThe Bureau of Contract Management staff recently held their annual training event at the end of February. The first two days were conducted in Monticello at the Chamber of Commerce building where current processes and procedures were reviewed and suggestions for updates and modifications were discussed. A thorough review of the administrative monitoring tool was done, as well as an exercise on invoice processing techniques. In addition, Mr. Jerome Garett with Covenant Restoration International, one of our Prevention contracted providers, was on hand to provide an overview of the services he provides to young children in the Jefferson County community. On Thursday, the team was back in Tallahassee and had various guest speakers come and present information to the group about current activities in other parts of the agency. Secretary Marstiller also made a guest appearance to address the group. Then, the team celebrated Linda Lynn’s retirement from the Department. She is retiring on April 30, but this was the last time everyone would be together to wish her well. All in all, the event was a success and provided an opportunity for team work and process improvement activities.



Contract Management Annual Training 1 Contract Management Annual Training 2


Residential Facility Honors Pup During Kids and Canines Graduation

Hillsborough Girls Academy Dog GraduationHillsborough Girls Academy, a secure program for girls operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, recently had a graduation for one of their dogs through the Kids and Canines program. Kids and Canines began in 1998 as a Hillsborough County Public School anti-truancy initiative. Initially, funding came from the school system and from the Department of Juvenile Justice. In late 2016, the partnership was revived and Rex began his training at the Hillsborough Girls Academy (HGA). Since then, several dogs have been through the training program at HGA and many girls have received certificates of completion for their work. Most recently, Bingo (pictured here) graduated to become a full-service dog having received his final training by Dreams 4 Autism. Lindsay, Bingo’s new owner stated, “I’m quite fond of my Giddy Goat, formerly Bingo. By ‘quite fond,’ I mean he’s the best thing in my life, and he’s currently snoring with his head on my legs…” Congratulations and thanks to everyone who helped Bingo on his journey!






Center for Success and Independence Black HistoryThe Center for Success and Independence- Ocala, a non-secure program for boys operated by Youth Opportunity Investments, hosted its inaugural Black History program which included singing performances by the program’s youth male choir and staff. Also represented at the program was Marion County education staff, Marion Youth Academy staff, and DJJ Northeast Regional Director Billy Starke. The program was decorated with pictures and articles from the African American culture and youth who participated wore special T-shirts made for the event which incorporated the theme. The guest speaker was Mr. Dennis McFatten, a retired captain from the Marion County Sheriff’s Office. He now serves as the Director of Safe Schools on the Marion County School Board. Mr. McFatten gave words of encouragement to the youth and let them know that this isn’t the end for them and that the best is yet to come. Afterward, the youth choir performed and was accompanied by a live band. The theme for this event was “Lift Every Voice” and opened with everyone standing and singing the “Black National Anthem,” written by James Weldon Johnson. This was followed by several readings by youth reflecting on our history, as seen through the eyes of our Civil Rights leaders. Facility Administrator Joseph Shuler gave the closing remarks and blessing of the food, which included a delicious cake a member of the team designed for this event.



Palm Beach Youth Academy Black History MonthResidents from Palm Beach Youth Academy, a secure program for boys operated by Sequel TSI, participated in an African American art installation as part of their Black History Month programming. Residents learned about various types of African American art and literature as well as the history behind it all. As part of the process, the youth created an art installation in one of the program’s outdoor areas utilizing sidewalk chalk. After filling up the sidewalk with pictures and positive messages, the youth got the opportunity to present on what they were taught. They drew and spoke of what they discovered about some of the African American artifacts that were brought for them to learn about and that had been put on display. The event captured how the residents are learning about a multitude of different topics using art as a medium to capture their attention.



Broward YTC Family DayBroward Youth Treatment Center, a non-secure program for boys operated by Youth Opportunity Investments, recently hosted a family fun day at the program. The staff worked to create a schedule and environment enjoyable for the youth and families. The day was full of outdoor fun and activities!








Okeechobee YTC Black History ProgramThe Okeechobee Youth Treatment Center (OYTC), a non-secure program for boys operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, hosted a Black History event on the OYTC campus. The event brought visitors in from the community, including a former Washington County School Principal, and many staff who decided to attend, even on their day off. Entering the room, it was evident that the young men went above and beyond to decorate and prepare for the day's occasion. Each home-room had their own decorations, and they represented different people of importance.

The event brought 80 youth to the same venue and the Department couldn’t have asked for better participation. The program began with an award ceremony, dedicated to recognizing the achievements of both the staff and the youth. Recognition awards were passed out to students for their improvements, leadership skills, and their academic achievements. Staff were recognized for their hard work and dedication in creating and keeping a comfortable and safe learning environment for the youth. The event continued with showcase of talent; the kids participated in singing, rapping, acting, and public speaking, all while being supported by their peers.

Detention Center Hosts Reading Event Through Their Literacy Program

Palm Beach RJDC Book Reading 1 The Palm Beach Regional Juvenile Detention Center hosted a book reading for the youth in their literacy program. The youth were given the opportunity to read a book and write an essay to receive 20 hours of community service, approved by the State Attorney. All youth who participated also received a hard-covered signed book to enjoy when they are released from the detention center. In addition, the center received a new batch of donated books to add to their library.




Girls from the Volusia Regional Juvenile Detention Center have been working on a new art project in the Art for All program at the detention center. The girls are allowed to keep their art work in their rooms upon release from the center.

Volusia RJDC Art for All 2 Volusia RJDC Art for All 3


Detention Supervisor TrainingThe Okaloosa Regional Juvenile Detention Center recently hosted phase two of the detention supervisor training at their center for supervisors in the Northern Region. Major Courtney Preston, Captain Cortez Bell and Field Training Coordinator Yolanda Teamer from Okaloosa RJDC facilitated the training. The Office of Detention Services would like to thank Okaloosa RJDC for their hospitality!





St Lucie RJDC Education WallThe St. Lucie Regional Juvenile Detention Center has dedicated an entire wall of space for the St. Lucie County School Board. School Board employee Lilliam Wiggam stated that the wall provides educational information that the youth can carry with them after they leave the detention center. The wall is always positive, encouraging and prompts the youth to read!








Orange RJDC Black History MonthThe Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center celebrated Black History Month with a series of educational events during morning class time. These events included musicians and motivational speakers. The day culminated in a celebration and lunch, which was served to the guest speakers from the classroom sessions. We would like to thank Dr. Christopher Smart from the Orange County Public Schools for setting up this event and organizing the guest speakers.



Escambia RJDC Youth SuccessFormer youth D.P. from the Escambia Regional Juvenile Detention Center recently returned from a once in a lifetime opportunity. D.P. is the first youth from Escambia County to ever receive court approval to participate in SailFuture, which is a community-based program for high-risk youth. SailFuture states, “Our programs leverage challenging sailing experiences, counseling, experiential education, and long-term housing to help some of society’s most challenging boys develop into independent young men.” D.P. sailed from Tampa Bay to the Florida Keys, then to Cuba and the Bahamas. D.P. learned team building, crew management, and trip preparation. He kept in touch with the detention center throughout his journey, advising them on all the things he saw from each docking location. We were excited to have been part of his journey, and in turn Escambia RJDC supplied him with clothing from their success closet, as well as giving him a fresh haircut.