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Secretary's Message

March 18, 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

Congratulations to Circuit 16 Juvenile Probation Officer Supervisor (JPOS) Paul Armstrong who was appointed to the South Florida Behavioral Health Network (SFBHN) Board of Directors for his second term. SFBHN is the managing entity for all state of Florida funding for substance abuse and mental health services, serving Miami-Dade and Monroe County. The SFBHN Board is responsible for oversight of a $94-million-dollar budget and seeks to assist the network in providing exceptional and innovative services to some of the most vulnerable citizens in our communities.

IT January Employee of the Month Cassandra SingletonCongratulations to Cassandra Singleton for being recognized as the Information Technology (IT) January Employee of the Month. Each month, IT recognizes an employee using a peer nomination process. Being nominated by their peers speaks volumes to their work ethic and dedication to the agency.





Congratulations to the following employees from the Pinellas County Regional Juvenile Detention Center

Sandra Wallace on being named Pinellas RJDC Employee of the Month.

Sandra Wallace on being named Pinellas RJDC Employee of the Month.

Candace Croswell on her 20 years of dedicated service to DJJ.

Candace Croswell on her 20 years of dedicated service to DJJ.

Gena Clark on her 10 years of dedicated service to DJJ.

Gena Clark on her 10 years of dedicated service to DJJ.


Residential Youth Complete Starbucks Employee Training

Residential Youth Complete Starbucks Employee TrainingRecently, youth from Broward Youth Treatment Center, a non-secure program for boys operated by Youth Opportunity Investments, received valuable job and interview training to help them obtain the necessary skills to work at a local Starbucks. This was the final mentoring session for this group of youth, which certified them with official Starbucks employee training. This means they can take this training certification and work at any Starbucks in Florida. “It was a very insightful and valuable learning experience for our youth, and I am very proud of them for tapping into their new-found professionalism,” stated Mr. Gross, the program’s recreational therapist.






Youth from Palm Beach Youth Academy, a secure program for boys operated by Sequel, got to spend the day with Philadelphia Eagles defensive back Cre’Von LeBlanc. Mr. LeBlanc spent the day mentoring the youth in a variety of ways. He was accompanied by former Florida Atlantic University player, Raekon Williams. Sharing his story of adversity and how he was able to overcome a multitude of obstacles was something that was really beneficial for our youth to hear. In addition to speaking to them collectively as a group, he spent valuable time with others individually and in smaller groups. Ironically, it was not football that our youth were most interested in when speaking to him. His passion for writing, music, and fashion seemed to be the popular topics for the youth, with some of them even reciting some of their own music for him to hear.

 Youth from Palm Beach Youth Academy got to spend the day with Philadelphia Eagles defensive back Cre’Von LeBlanc.


Union Juvenile Residential Facility, a non-secure program for boys operated by Sequel, held their monthly awards ceremony where they recognized five youth for their achievements. The categories and winners were as follow:

“Top Dog” – based on the total number of points accumulated for the month - youth JB

“Mr. Consistency” – based on the youth’s consistent positive behavior – youth KB

“Most Improved” – based on the youth’s improvement in education, group sessions and behavior throughout the month – youth CD

“Mr. Scholarly” – as voted on by the teachers – youth YC

“Positive Peer” – one who displays good leadership and teamwork as voted on by the youth’s peers – youth OF.

Each youth received a certificate and had their photos displayed on the bulletin board. As a reward, the youth were treated to a day of professional grooming with a barber in Jacksonville, as well as a day of food and fun at a bowling alley in Gainesville. Three other youth (DD, AO and DG) were runners-up in three of the five categories and were also recognized and included in the off-campus activities. The youth had a great time and expressed their appreciation and thanks to staff for the opportunity to participate in the off-campus activities.

Union JRF Monthly Awards Ceremony



Canine "Buster"Congratulations to another teen trainer at Hillsborough Girls Academy (HGA), a secure program for girls operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, who has spent time training canine “Buster” (pictured left) every day, while also studying for her G.E.D. Hillsborough Girls Academy is very happy for this young lady and know this accomplishment will help when she leaves the program. This youth not only passed with her G.E.D after training two of our program dogs, Gypsy and Buster, but upon her release, she will be working at her hometown local animal shelter. She was able to obtain this position because of the skills she learned while in the program. Buster will continue his training with the current assistant trainer, who will move into the lead role. HGA is excited to continue this journey to prepare Buster for his forever home.



Brooksville Academy eating at Golden Corral.Brooksville Academy, a non-secure program for boys operated by Youth Opportunity Investments, transported 16 youth, accompanied by 12 staff members, on an outing filled with fun and food. The first stop was to the local bowling alley, “Strike City,” where the 28 individuals were divided into four teams for a competitive game of bowling. The team led by Facility Administrator Javonte Crenshaw came out on top with the win! The youth worked up an appetite following the intense bowling competition. Golden Corral was the next stop so that the youth could partake in the all you can eat buffet. The youth enjoyed eating their favorite foods and also being able to sample food they had never eaten before.



Office of Prevention Hosts Resource Fair in Pensacola


Pictured above: Left to Right: Pamela Nettles (supervisor), Amy Baldwin (Clinic Manager, RN), Therese Moses, Reform Specialist, Regina Berry. Superintendent, Alice Sims, Assistant Secretary, Yvonne Woodard, Director, Carmen Lundy, Delinquency Prevention Specialist, Verla Lawson-Grady, Statewide Community Outreach & Engagement Coordinator, Paul Wallis, Chief of Probation C-1 & Marcus Smith, Chief of Operations


The Office of Prevention Services hosted a Community Outreach Resources Education (C.O.R.E.) Resource Fair in Pensacola for youth and families. This event represented an ongoing initiative to “Celebrate Families.” The goal of the C.O.R.E. Resource Fair is to build and enhance strong positive relationships among families, communities, and providers by strengthening support systems that are beneficial to Florida’s youth and families. It also allows the Office of Prevention Services to reinforce communities and connect community partners and stakeholders with youth and families. At the event, Assistant Secretary Alice Sims recognized Pastor & Mrs. Gulley of Milk and Honey Kids Club (shown bottom left), for their outstanding service to our youth. Delinquency Prevention Specialist Carmen Lundy, Statewide Community Engagement Coordinator Verla Lawson-Grady and additional DJJ staff helped organize this event, and together, they introduced a very informative and professional group of providers to the youth and families in attendance.

DJJ circuit staff and juvenile justice stakeholders in attendance included: Circuit 1 Advisory Chairperson Edna Williams, Superintendent Escambia Detention Center Regina Berry, Chief Probation Officer Paul Wallis, Reform Specialist Therese Moses, Detention Supervisor Pamela Nettles, and Amy Baldwin from the Escambia Detention Center. Agencies that participated in this event included the Pensacola Police Department, Florida Highway Patrol, Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles, Agency for Persons with Disabilities, A Brother’s Keeper Devoted Covenant Youth Services, Lutheran Services Florida, U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development, “One Church One Child”, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Pensacola Dream Center, Camp Fire Gulf Winds, Inc., Pensacola Habitat for Humanity, Extra Mile Club, NISSI Worldwide & 90 works. They all helped to provide a day of fun and celebration for families. Superintendent Berry and Lutheran Services donated bicycles to give away as door prizes, in addition to other providers who also donated prizes. Special thanks to Chief Marcus Smith, Director Yvonne Woodard, Edna Williams, and Regina Berry for donating popcorn and for providing other refreshments. This was a team effort that was enjoyed by all.



Assistant Secretary Alice Sims was the guest speaker at Griffin Middle School Black History Month Celebration where the theme was “Greater Hope & Diversity for the Future.”  At the celebration, Assistant Secretary Sims encouraged students to always have hope, drive, and determination and an integral part of her message highlighted young African American entrepreneurs who created successful businesses at a very young age. Statewide Community Outreach & Engagement Coordinator Verla Lawson-Grady also created a photomontage featuring successful young entrepreneurs and both Director Yvonne Woodard and Ms. Lawson-Grady distributed awards to distinguished youth identified by the school. 

Assistant Secretary Alice Sims was the guest speaker at Griffin Middle School Black History Month Celebration.

Pictured above left to right: Verla Lawson-Grady, Statewide Community Outreach & Engagement Coordinator, Griffin Middle School Principal Zelena O’Banner, Assistant Secretary Alice Sims.



17th Annual Believing in Girls Empowerment Luncheon - Felicia W.The Pace Center for Girls Broward team recently highlighted their PACE girls at the 17th Annual Believing in Girls Empowerment Luncheon. This luncheon is an exciting way for the community to learn about the mission of PACE and to showcase the girls in a strong and powerful way. Former alum and current employee, Felicia W. (shown left), delivered a very dynamic speech about her personal journey and how PACE was a positive impact on her life. The audience was also treated to a special performance by the Pace Broward Choir and one of Pace’s graduating seniors, Tatyana, gave a moving testimonial. This year, Pace Broward is celebrating 26 years of helping girls find their voice and achieve their highest potential.






Jamari and Shatoya, recently celebrated their transition from the PACE programTwo girls from the Pace Center for Girls in Orange County, Jamari and Shatoya, recently celebrated their transition from the PACE program. Both girls will earn their high school diplomas in May and hope to pursue careers as a sign language interpreter and a nurse, respectively.











Probation Staff Celebrate Employee Appreciation Day

Circuit 19 Juvenile Probation Officer Supervisor Ann Marie Campbell from Unit 201A/B organized a fun filled afternoon for her team to celebrate Employee Appreciation Day. The event included lunch at Duffy’s, bowling and games at Superplay, and the celebration of birthdays for the quarter. It was a wonderful fun- filled event that encouraged team effort. The team was very happy to be able to enjoy this fun-filled afternoon!

 Circuit 19 Unit 201 Employee Appreciation Day


Coca-Cola Beverages Florida recently visited AMIkids Tampa Coca-Cola Beverages Florida recently visited AMIkids Tampa and donated laptops to the program as part of a statewide campaign to assist at-risk youth in vulnerable communities. The kids and AMIkids staff were extremely excited to receive these amazing gifts. Thank you to Coca-Cola Beverages for giving our students tools that will enhance their educational growth and for supporting them as they continue to realize their full potential.







National speaker and singer/songwriter Haley Hunt worked with the girls at the Orange RJDCDetention Center Receives a Visit from NFL Football Player

National speaker and singer/songwriter Haley Hunt worked with the girls at the Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center on a blanket art project. Each girl assisted in making a blanket and will be taking it home with them. Ms. Hunt’s organization, Life Group, also spent time with each youth mentoring them.

Ms. Hunt also had a special surprise for the youth at the detention center when she brought San Francisco 49ers Kicker Jonathan Brown (shown left) for a visit. Jonathan Brown gave the youth a positive message about second chances and told stories about life in the NFL as an African American kicker.






Kathryn Ross is the Orange RJDC Volunteer of the QuarterThe Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center (RJDC) recently named Kathryn Ross as the Orange RJDC Volunteer of the Quarter. Captain Quick presented Ms. Ross with a certificate and an Orange Tough mug in appreciation for her volunteer work. Ms. Ross comes to the detention center on a weekly basis and provides presentations to both the girls mod and the boys honor mod.





The Office of Detention Services Training Unit recently kicked off Phase II of the Supervisor Training seriesThe Office of Detention Services Training Unit recently kicked off Phase II of the Supervisor Training series. Orange, Okaloosa, and St. Lucie detention centers hosted the first round of classes, with detention supervisors attending from centers within their respective regions. Phase II training topics include conflict resolution techniques, confinements, an overview of JJIS – STARS (transportation module), and a discussion about the importance of stay interviews. The training unit is looking forward to seeing all of the supervisors in the coming weeks as they make their way around the state.