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Secretary's Message

February 18, 2020

Department of Juvenile Justice’s Weekly Letter

Welcome to our weekly letter, where we share the latest news and updates on the great work the DJJ team is doing across the state of Florida. Thank you for taking a moment out of your day to read about the ways our DJJ staff, providers, and partners are working to support youth and families and strengthen our communities.

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

secretary with recognition ceremony awardeesLast Friday, DJJ Headquarters held an employee recognition ceremony to honor employees celebrating their years of service with the state of Florida and our agency. The honorees in attendance were as follows:

5 Years of Service-Tiffany Campbell, Lee Hartsfield

10 Years of Service-Dionne Anderson, Heather Mercer

20 Years of Service-Carmen Reyes

25 Years of Service-Sharon Long, Laura Anderson, Randy Agerton, Lisa Leath

30 Years of Service-Roy McCall, Michael Block, Marie Riou, Cathy Roberts, and Benita Smith

Employees not in attendance were also celebrated as their names and years of service were read aloud. Those employees were: Jackie Suttle (30 years), Michele Cuniff (25 years), Karen Miller (25 years), Harry Motley (20 years), Ian Williams (5 years), Cathelya Burnett (5 years) and Ashley Schwab (5 years).

Congratulations to these employees and all of our employees who are celebrating milestone years of service. Thank you for your dedication to Florida and to our Department!  

leslie hagans and teamCongratulations to Operations Review Specialist Leslie Hagans who was recently named Northeast Residential Services Employee of the Quarter. Ms. Hagans received this honor during the Northeast Residential Services Quarterly Meeting. Ms. Hagans was honored with a certificate and gift card to acknowledge her dedication and diligence in her job duties.  

Ms. Hagans has been a member of the NE Region team since August 2018.  During her time in the NE Region, she has brought a determination to ensure youth are receiving care and services in a safe environment.  Ms. Hagans is a great example of a team player and provides support wherever it is needed.



bradley taylorThe Hillsborough Regional Juvenile Detention Center (RJDC) would like to congratulate Bradley Taylor who has recently accepted a position as captain at the center. Captain Taylor began his career with DJJ as a juvenile detention officer II (JDO) with Monroe Regional Juvenile Detention Center. He then took a promotion to supervisor at Pinellas RJDC in October of 2018. He brings 10 years of military experience having served eight years as a military police officer. During that time, he served in a mission in the Presidential Security team, was in two tours to the Middle East for Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and completed his last two years working in recruitment and retention. His wealth of knowledge and supervisory experience will be a great asset to the Hillsborough team!




Collier Regional Juvenile Detention Center recently held a graduation at the center where three of their newly trained officers were among the graduates. Officer Jeremy Curry, David Coronado, and Juan Sosa were part of Academy Class #98 and are very motivated and dedicated juvenile detention officers. Congratulations in your new roles with DJJ!

recent collier graduates



Residential Youth Attend Festival of the Arts and Humanities


food provided at zora festivalYouth from Orange Youth Academy and Orlando Intensive Youth Academy, non-secure programs for boys which are operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, attended the Zora! Festival, where they were accompanied by Recreation Therapist Jamecia Whiteside and Facility Administrator Carlos Harris. The festival is a multi-day event that takes place in Eatonville, Florida and is composed of theatrical productions, public speaking, art displays, and more. Thousands come out to celebrate the life and work of Zora Neale Hurston, the festival’s namesake.  The youth had a great time participating in the event and taking part in all of the delicious festival food!




redwood youth playing kickballRedwood Youth Academy, a non-secure program for boys operated by Youth Opportunity Investments, had an eventful Super Bowl weekend. The festivities started out on Saturday with a competitive game of kickball and other outdoor activities. Following the kickball game, a pizza party was held with an indoor card tournament and video game challenge. Everyone who participated received incentives and rewards for positive interactions and behavior!

On Sunday, prior to the Super Bowl, the youth participated in a Madden football tournament with the winner of each dorm competing in the finals. Everyone displayed good sportsmanship and enjoyed the activities. After visitation, the youth participated in outdoor games and music while the Super Bowl meal was being prepared. The meal consisted of B-B-Q chicken, ribs, corn on the cob, baked beans, rice and Kool-Aid. During halftime, the youth enjoyed ice cream sundaes. Everyone at Redwood Youth Academy went to bed full and happy and we would like to send kudos to the staff at Redwood Youth Academy for putting together these fun-filled events!



Probation Staff Volunteers at the Florida State Fair


james garnerCentral Region Circuit 13 Unit 102 Juvenile Probation Officer Supervisor (JPOS) James Garner recently volunteered at the Florida State Fair during Shriners Day. During Shriners Day, the rides at the fair were free to all special needs youth. JPOS Garner assisted with youth entering and exiting the rides.

Shriners Hospitals for Children is a network of 22 non-profit medical facilities across North America. Children with orthopedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries, and cleft lips and palates are eligible for care and receive all services in a family-centered environment, regardless of the patients' ability to pay.


vero beach police and djj staffDJJ Reform Specialist Christopher Seagrist along with Michael Marsh from Teen Success Enterprises partnered with the Vero Beach Police Department to explain to some of their local youth about the juvenile justice process. Youth received a tour of the Vero Beach Police Department (VBPD), where Police Officer Darrell Rivers spoke about the booking process and the importance of staying out of the delinquency system. Port St. Lucie Police Department Detective Mya Auguste spoke about the investigative process, and Reform Specialist Christopher Seagrist explained the possible outcomes of delinquent acts, from civil citation to possible residential placement. Officer Michael Page and Kristina Meers from Indian River Shores Public Safety Department also participating in this event. After the tour, youth were treated to a pizza party at Cap’s Pizza in Vero Beach!






ami youth building bikeYouth from AMIkids Manatee recently worked with volunteers from their corporate partner, ClickBooth, and the United Way of the Suncoast to build their own bikes. The activity was part of a team-building conference hosted by ClickBooth, where the youth were paired with mentors for the day to observe how a large company supports a positive corporate culture for its staff.












youth on college tourA recent GED graduate of AMIkids Jacksonville had the pleasure of touring Concord University, a liberal-arts college in West Virginia. She is interested in pursuing a degree in education within the science field.














Pace Center for Girls Receives Non-Profit of the Year Award

pace providers at award ceremonyPace Center for Girls Pinellas, a DJJ prevention provider, was recently recognized as the 2020 Non-Profit of the Year by the Pinellas Park Gateway Chamber of Commerce.

Over the past year, the Gateway Chamber of Commerce has been a continuous connector between Pace Pinellas and several area businesses for beneficial resource development and fundraising opportunities, which has exponentially increased the visibility of programs within the community.

With the honor of this award, the backing of the Chamber, and the partnerships with so many businesses in the community, Pace will continue to stretch throughout Pinellas County and allow them to serve even more at-promise young ladies.



shateria randall at programShanteria Randall, delinquency prevention specialist for Circuits 9, 18, and 19 recently conducted a site visit to Tykes and Teens, a DJJ prevention program in Palm City.

During Shanteria’s visit to Tykes and Teens, she met with Dr. Alethia DuPont, the program’s coordinator for outpatient services, to discuss the structure of the program and learn more about the services offered to the youth.

Tykes and Teens currently offers educational, prevention, and treatment services and was established in 1996 with the goal of strengthening local families by ensuring that all children have access to high-quality counseling and mental health services, regardless of financial status. The agency provides a comprehensive range of programming in Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River, and Okeechobee counties.

Serving more than 20,000 local children and adolescents, Tykes and Teens have helped youth overcome depression, anxiety, behavioral issues, sexual abuse, domestic violence, and substance abuse.

Tykes and Teens’ prevention programming provides curriculums in all Martin County schools, as well as free education and community programming at the local Boys and Girls Clubs.



prevention staff at supervising for successPrevention HQ staff recently attended a “Supervising for Success” class at DJJ HQ led by Sonia Taylor, deputy director for the DJJ Office of Staff Development & Training.

Sonia Taylor started a spirited leadership teambuilding training for Prevention HQ staff with lyrics from the American R&B duo, McFadden & Whitehead.

As the duo jammed over the speakers, much to the delight of Prevention staff, many of whom grooved in their seats to the lyrics: “ain’t no stopping us now; We’re on the move. Ain’t no stopping us now. We’ve got the groove.”

After that soulful introduction, Ms. Taylor discussed “leadership principles,” including professionalism, ethics, and values; and “leadership tools,” including effective communication, coaching and delegation. The training also focused on improving engagement and the importance of a positive team climate, as well as problem-solving tools, resolution, and self-assessment.



Teachers Host Literacy Week at the Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center


teacher with displayAs a part of Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center’s “Literacy Week Adventures, teachers and school district staff participated in activities centered around different art and literary works. Teacher Ron Vanous and his students read and re-enacted the play “The Old West,” while Teacher Tausha Reddick and her students read “Your Blues Ain’t Like Mine” by Bebe Moore Campbell and designed an acrostic poem. Mrs. Gilliam discussed with her student’s information and statistics from the Adult Literacy League and Lynn Edwards assisted teachers with the set-up of visual presentations.



bradley taylor with ping pong tablePinellas RJDC is PROUD to announce that newly promoted Captain Bradley Taylor made a generous donation to the soon-to-be opened honors mod at the center. It’s bittersweet that Captain Taylor is leaving to join the team at Hillsborough RJDC, however, the Pinellas RJDC is incredibly grateful that he donated the beautiful ping pong table to the honors mod as a parting gift. Pinellas RJDC would like to wish him the best in his new assignment, and they look forward to working with him during his tenure at Hillsborough RJDC.











hillsborough staff at lunch festivitiesHillsborough Superintendent Jason Grice, Assistant Superintendent Captain Brad Taylor, and Hillsborough Detention Advisory Board President Freddy Barton recently provided lunch for the staff at Hillsborough RJDC. The officers were able to enjoy music, play corn-hole, and were served grilled chicken, hamburgers and hotdogs. This lunch was a small token of appreciation from Major Grice for their hard work and dedication. This lunch also provided the opportunity for the team to break in the new grill donated to the facility by Mr. Barton.











Major Samuel Thelon, Circuit Judge Yery Marrero, Major Ell FanceMiami Dade Regional Juvenile Detention Center recently hosted Juvenile Circuit Judge Yery Marrero for a visit and tour of the center. Judge Marrero was very pleased with the center and enjoyed the different murals around the grounds. 






Cpt Luis Quinones; Tre Boston; Sgt Pierre Sainval; Sgt Kimberly Soto; Lt Laura Ortiz.Tre Boston, a veteran NFL player from Fort Myers who plays with the Carolina Panthers, recently made a visit to Southwest Regional Juvenile Detention Center. Tre Boston, and his mother Iris, have a foundation called the Tre Boston Beyond Belief Foundation where they travel to speak with youth about bettering themselves. Mr. Boston also recently stopped by the Collier Regional Juvenile Detention Center for a visit.

While at Southwest Florida RJDC, he spoke to the youth and motivated them to  do just a little better every day. He encouraged them to focus on the future and pay attention to who they allow in their lives.