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Secretary's Message

March 4, 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



DJJ Participates in Suits for Session Service Project

DJJ Secretary Simone Marstiller and Volunteer Florida Chief Executive Officer Clay Ingram at the Suits for Session event at the Florida Capitol.DJJ once again teamed up with Volunteer Florida and Uber for the 5th Annual Suits for Session service project at the Florida Capitol. This annual service project encourages legislators and staff, state agency employees, and other local professionals and residents to collect new or gently-worn business attire to help prepare job seekers in need in our state. Since the project’s inception in 2016, over 16,000 items have been donated to organizations across Florida. Items collected this year will be donated to Dress for Success Tampa Bay, Sulzbacher, CareerSource Chipola, CareerSource Gulf Coast and others. Thank you to everyone that donated to this worthy cause!  

Staff Announcements and Kudos

Last week, a dual graduation ceremony was hosted at the Florida Public Safety Institute (FPSI) and celebrated the success of 22 juvenile detention officers and 22 juvenile probation officers. The guest speaker for the event was FPSI Executive Director E.E. Eunice, and DJJ Chief of Staff Josefina Tamayo delivered the closing remarks. Congratulations to all the graduates and welcome to the DJJ team!

jpo grads

Juvenile Detention Officers

Class Motto: “Six steps forward, Never Backwards”





William Adamski

St. Lucie RJDC

Gatrues Lightfoot


Reginald Allen

St. Lucie RJDC

Kiana McMillan

Escambia RJDC

Alicia Bruce


Andrew Montoya

St. Lucie RJDC

Roxanna Cox

St. Lucie RJDC

Malcom Parker

Escambia RJDC

Earnest Daugthrey Jr.


Darian Rawls

Marion RJDC

Jhordon Edouard

St. Lucie RJDC

CaMarius Smith


Kelly Emmert

St. Lucie RJDC

Samuel Thelusma

St. Lucie RJDC

Terry Frost Jr.


Christina Valentino

Okaloosa RJDC

Jacquline James

Escambia RJDC

Colby Watson

Escambia RJDC

Shawn LaPerle

Marion RJDC

Evandall Williams


Rickoshane Leach

St. Lucie RJDC

Taeausia Williams



Juvenile Probation Officers

Class Motto: “Serving our youth with honesty, integrity and respect!”






Michala Allen

Circuit 9

Timothy McDonnell

Circuit 16

Darrell Barfield

Circuit 2

Bridget Miller

Circuit 11

Rowan Bienes

Circuit 9

Rachel Morse

Circuit 9

Anzio Bouche

Circuit 2

Christa Oralus

Circuit 2

Diane Dentone

Circuit 11

Shianda Simmons

Circuit 10

Catherine Ford

Circuit 16

Lauren Stahl

Circuit 20

Jason Herb

Circuit 5

Kacy Ann Thomas

Circuit 19

Cheyenne Jackson

Circuit 11

Brittany Tombroff

Circuit 4

Dane Jarvis

Circuit 6

Venusti Troya

Circuit 11

Roderick Johnson Jr.

Circuit 4

Twyla Vann

Circuit 11

Quinlynne Kalish

Circuit 2

Cindy Velazquez

Circuit 9


mike shoemaker celebratingCircuit 6 Probation recently celebrated the retirement of Juvenile Probation Officer Supervisor (JPOS) Mike Shoemaker, who has worked for DJJ for 35 years. Mike has been a JPOS for 25 of those 35 years. The testimonies shared during the gathering included how Supervisor Shoemaker always took the time to listen to staff, was very compassionate and patient, and is the nicest person they have ever met. JPOS Shoemaker will surely be missed and is wished the very best in his retirement.












Circuit 5 Chief Probation Officer Randy Reynolds would like to congratulate and thank Senior Juvenile Probation Officer (SJPO) Stephanie Burns for her outstanding presentation during a recent Community Reentry Team (CRT) meeting.  Community reentry teams are established in each judicial circuit and include representatives from various groups that work together to help a youth return to their community after residential commitment.  SJPO Burns received recognition from regional DJJ staff for how organized and efficient her meetings have been and how engaged she is with the youth on her caseload. Thank you SJPO Burns for your commitment to the youth in our care!




jpo at eckerd connects eventCircuit 18 Juvenile Probation Officer (JPO) Jasmine Henshaw was recently recognized by Project Bridge for being an outstanding professional.  JPO Henshaw took a juvenile justice system course when she was in college, and since then she has had an interest in helping at-risk kids. She initially started with our agency in detention services and transitioned to probation services in March 2019.  JPO Henshaw enjoys being a role model for youth and looks forward to the positives changes our youth make when turning around their lives for the better.











CPO Alderman, JPO Yasha Osby, JPOS Ellen Wilds and ACPO RichardsonCongratulations to Juvenile Probation Officer Yasha Osby and Juvenile Justice Officer Treca Morris for receiving the Circuit 9 Service Recognition Award for January 2020. Both were recognized for their hard work and always having a great attitude, diligence, and willingness to go above and beyond.

CPO Alderman, JJO Treca Morris and ACPO Richardson



andrea johnson with poloMajor Robert Loyd of Alachua Regional Juvenile Detention Center (RJDC) presented Lieutenant Bruce Perry and Corporal Andrea Johnson with their gold polos for their 30 years of continuous service. Lt. Perry has worn his shirt on the job since receiving it, and other staff members have responded that they could not wait to receive theirs as well!

bruce perry



Cassandra Burney, Russ Nidy, Major Mamine Saintil, Chief Greg Starling and Chief Public Defender Megan Eaton.This month, Palm Beach Regional Juvenile Detention Center Major Mamine Saintil and Palm Beach RJDC Volunteer Russ Nidy were awarded the Circuit 15 West Palm Beach Unsung Hero awards for their work in the detention center and community. The award was presented during the Juvenile Justice Circuit Advisory Board meeting, which included attendees from Circuit 15 and surrounding areas.










mia williams and kristen swartzCongratulations to newly-promoted Assistant Superintendent Mia Williams with the Pinellas Regional Juvenile Detention Center. Assistant Superintendent Williams has been employed with DJJ since 2008. She has a good working knowledge of detention services and will be a valuable member of the administration team.

Additionally, Kristen Swartz has been named the new Facility Training Coordinator (FTC) at the center. Corporal Swartz has been employed with DJJ since 2015 and has experience in intake, release, and transportation. Corporal Swartz is known for being upfront and very detail oriented. Pinellas RJDC is very PROUD to have these two team members take on these new roles as the team strives to become the best tier 5 detention center in the state of Florida.



st lucie employees of the month

St. Lucie RJDC recently recognized three detention officers as Employees of the Month. The recipients were JJDOII Marsha Mills, JJDO II Gregory Simmons, and JJDOII Scott Wilson.  All winners were selected for going the extra mile, demonstrating leadership ability, and for always being willing to assist.   



SD&T Staff Participate in Suicide Prevention Day at the Capitol

suicide prevention tableStaff Development and Training (SD&T) team members Sam Brewer and Nikole Ellis recently participated in Suicide Prevention Day at the Capitol, an awareness day hosted by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. The event included advocacy meetings with legislators, information tabling, and special memorials for those who have died by suicide. Sam and Nikole provided information about DJJ’s suicide prevention efforts and shared the agency’s commitment to addressing the mental health concerns of the youth we serve.





State of Florida Launches Florida PALM System

florida palm brochureFlorida has embarked on a multiyear endeavor to replace the current accounting and cash management systems used by our state agencies with a cloud-based financial management solution.

The Florida Planning, Accounting, and Ledger Management (PALM) will allow the state to organize, define and standardize its financial management processes. To learn more about the project, visit the Florida Department of Financial Services website at:













Residential Youth Attend Hoggetowne Medieval Faire

youth with knightRecently, the equine and recreational therapy incentive programs at Ocala Youth Academy, a non-secure program for boys operated by Youth Opportunity Investments, combined their efforts for the benefit of the youth’s educational enrichment and to reward them for rising to the challenge of meeting their individual treatment goals.  Because of their improvement, the youth were treated to a fun-filled trip off campus to the Hoggetowne Medieval Faire in Gainesville.

While at the fair, the youth were immersed in the culture and time period of the medieval era. The Hoggetowne Medieval Faire is recreated to mimic a town fair, similar to those popular in the Middle Ages.

As the youth immersed themselves in the fair’s unique culture, they got the opportunity to participate in a game that required the youth and staff to work together. They were tasked with finding certain characters in the market place and speaking to them in the dialect used in the Middle Ages to receive their next clue.

The youth and staff also watched a jousting tournament and prior to its start, the youth were given a rundown of the type of horses that were used by knights in the Middle Ages. They learned proper training and communication between the horse and rider were essential, particularly in safeguarding their lives both in sport and during the battle.



hastings youth at amusement parkHastings Comprehensive Mental Health Treatment Facility and Gulf Academy, non-secure programs for boys operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, took 10 youth to the Adventure Landing amusement park in Jacksonville. The youth participated in unlimited go-cart rides, mini-golf, a roller coaster simulation, and were given tokens to play arcade games. The youth displayed positive social interactions with other youth at Adventure Landing and were respectful towards staff. The park’s director complimented them on being so well behaved and at the end of their day, the youth were able to enjoy some pizza.



youth at skyzoneA few days later, Hastings Comprehensive Mental Health Treatment Facility and Gulf Academy had the opportunity to take nine youth to Sky Zone Trampoline Park in Daytona Beach. The youth were able to enjoy a full hour of jumping as well as lunch with unlimited drinks. Recreational therapy supports positive social interactions and assists with reintegration into the community, showing the youth healthy ways to have fun. At the end of the event, a youth stated that he had not had this much fun in a really long time.  








crestview hand collageThe youth at Crestview Youth Academy, a non-secure program for boys operated by Youth Opportunity Investments, participated in an arts and crafts activity in celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Recreational Therapist Emily May traced all the youth’s hands and cut them out. As part of the activity, the youth read the Martin Luther King, Jr. quote, “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character,” and were asked to show their diversity on their hand cut-outs. Each of the cut-outs shows the vast diversity of the youth, and Crestview Youth Academy is proud of the diverse culture!



columbus youth at gasparilla runColumbus Youth Academy, a non-secure program for boys operated by Sequel, had the opportunity to volunteer at the Gasparilla Run Classic in Tampa. This event, which is hosted annually by Publix, helps to raise funds for charitable youth organizations around the Tampa Bay Area. Seven youth from Columbus Youth Academy, who are in transition, have earned the privilege to take part in community events by showing extraordinary behavior and leadership in the program.  The boys helped set up a station for water along the route for race participants. As runners passed, the youth handed them water and gave them encouraging words to finish the race strong.  Thank you to Youth Care Workers Mecca Moore and Andrew McCobb as well as Recreational Therapist Josh Glanton for attending this outing with the youth.     




pompano youthSix youth from Pompano Youth Treatment Center, a non-secure program for boys operated by Sequel, had the opportunity to participate in a debate tournament at Charles Flanagan High School in Pembroke Pines. The six youth are currently enrolled in debate class at Pompano Youth Treatment Center and have been working very hard to put their debate cases together in preparation for the tournament. During the tournament, the youth had the opportunity to test their debate skills against the local high school students and the youth performed admirably. The debate topics ranged from politics to love. The youth thoroughly enjoyed the intellectual competition, and they look forward to the next debate tournament.



two miami youth academy studentsFive students from Miami Youth Academy, a non-secure program for boys operated by TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, attended a hands-on STEM activity at the Deering Estate as part of an ongoing project associated with poetry, music, and performance. All five youth participated in the PIANO SLAM contest, which was sponsored by the Dranoff Piano Foundation.  Two of the youth that participated in the contest won prizes for their performances!

For 12 years, the Dranoff Piano Foundation’s PIANO SLAM has been a highly successful classical performance and education program. The competition has brought live classical piano performances to classrooms and uses music as a tool to learn core subjects in Miami-Dade public middle and high schools.






Probation Staff Participate in Foster Care Awareness Event


jpo's at foster care awareness breakfastJuvenile Probation Officer Supervisor Regina Booze-Bostick, Senior Juvenile Probation Officer Jamie Bellet, SJPO Loredana McKenzie and JPO Ronneisa DeSylvia, all from Unit 210 in Circuit 6, participated in the foster care awareness breakfast in Pinellas County.  This particular probation unit handles foster care caseloads, so it was a fantastic opportunity to network and build relationships with our dependency system partners and to help support their initiatives. 




c6 probation community connectionsCircuit 6 Probation was also a collaborating partner in the Community Connections: Homelessness and the Faith Community event, which was held at the Center for Health Equity in St. Petersburg.  This amazing event brought awareness, information, and resources to the community through the faith-based network.  The day consisted of a keynote speaker from the Homeless Leadership Alliance, who provided the attendees with a wealth of information on homelessness in Pinellas County. There was also a panel discussion with representation from local social service agencies and an individual who was previously homeless and in foster care. There was a wide array of resource tables for attendees to obtain information on the services provided in Pinellas County as it relates to homelessness, including information on Family Resources, which is the Children In Need of Services/Families in Need of Services (CINS/FINS) provider for Pinellas County.  Approximately 230 people attended this event with approximately 51 church congregations and 76 social service agencies in attendance.



amikids with food truckDuring a food truck event last month for the Broward Human Tracking Coalition, Broward County Commissioner Julie Fishman had a chance to try delicious meals from the AMIkids food trailer. She loved it so much, she immediately invited AMIkids to be a vendor at the 3rd Annual Multicultural Festival of Tamarac. After enjoying the kids’ cooking again at the event, they were invited to be a vendor at the upcoming annual 4th of July Festival!




c18 lunch and learnCircuit 18 Probation staff took part in several “lunch-n-learn” trainings as a way to become more familiar with the services provided in their communities. This is an excellent way for our staff to learn about services that can assist the youth and families they serve.  Recently, the Seminole County Government Community Assistance Division spoke to our staff about rental, mortgage, and utility assistance programs. They also shared information about current grant programs for first time home buyers, emergency health care, and services for veterans.




The Central Region Office Staff, along with the Reform Specialists from Central Region Probation, organized and planned a supervisors retreat under the theme “With Heart and Soul, We Can Reach Our Goal!” The retreat was held on Valentine’s Day in Bartow, and the team would like to send a special thanks to Circuit 10 Chief Probation Officer Alison Fulford and Reform Specialist Natalie Montgomery for finding the perfect venue at the Polk County Agricultural Center. Over 60 staff members were in attendance and enjoyed a Jeopardy game policy review competition and team building and leadership development activities with lots of smiles and laughter! It was also an opportunity to recognize the Employees of the Year: Circuit 18 Reform Specialist Tracy Olson, Circuit 18 JPO Michael Neary, and Circuit 12 Reform Specialist Jarrett Ballot. Special thanks to all those that contributed door prizes and to everyone that contributed to the very large potluck! The Central Region staff are already looking forward to planning the next event.


central supervisors




Prevention Team Attends Black History Month Program

Prevention staff at programPrevention Assistant Secretary Alice Sims recently attended the Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office’s Restoring Families “Our Black is Beautiful” Black History Month Program at the Springfield A.M.E. Church in Gretna.

The theme for the event was “Walking Together in Faith During A Season of Divisiveness.” Over 40 youth participated in the program through singing, poetry, speeches, skits and praise dances.

The Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office partners with DJJ on two prevention-funded programs: Restoring Families and Teen Success Academy.  The Restoring Families program focuses on children of incarcerated parents and offers life coaching, social support groups, social services, parental visitation, and educational assistance.

The Teen Success Academy is a school safety initiative that offers services such as gun violence prevention, bullying/cyberbullying prevention, anger management, and community service activities.  

Dr. Nicky Collins, director of the Teen Success Academy, delivered an inspiring and motivational message entitled “Preserved for Purpose.”  She encouraged the youth, as well as adults, to know their purpose and strive to live out that purpose.

Assistant Secretary Sims gave closing remarks and commended Gadsden Sheriff Morris Young, Major Robert Barkley, and the program coaches to keep “Passing the Baton of Opportunities” to the youth and their parents.  She also commended the youth for a job well done and encouraged them to continue to excel in everything they do.

Sheriff Morris Young provided additional remarks and recognized DJJ and other community stakeholders for their collaborative efforts and support of the youth programs in Gadsden County.  He indicated that it will take a village, and everyone’s involvement, to keep our children safe and out of trouble. 

florida network hill day participantsOn their annual Hill Day, executives from the Florida Network of Youth and Family Services gathered at the Florida State Capitol to advocate for the wellbeing of Florida’s at-risk youth. They also thanked legislators for their support of DJJ’s Office of Prevention.

Senator Aaron Bean recognized the Network’s 90% success rate during Senate session and congratulated Network President and CEO Stacy Gromatski for her 30 years of service working with CINS/FINS youth and families. Representative Bobby Payne also gave recognition to the Florida Network on the House floor during session.  

The Florida Network is a not-for profit statewide association representing 29 agencies that serve homeless, runaway and troubled youth ages six and older and their families.

For more than 40 years, the Florida Network has provided CINS/FINS services,  as defined by Florida Statute, in order to prevent juvenile delinquency and encourage good choices and healthy family relationships.



prevention staff at eckerd superstar eventDelinquency Prevention Specialist for Circuits 9, 18, and 19 Shanteria Randall recently attended an Eckerd Connects Super Star Event in Winter Haven.

The Eckerd Connect/Project Bridge superstar event honored youth superstars, new graduates, and juvenile probation officers for their hard work and success.  In 2013, Project Bridge was developed in partnership with Eckerd Connects and the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice to serve youth in Central and South Florida. Project Bridge provides transitional services to boys and girls, ages 11-21, reintegrating to their home communities from juvenile justice residential commitment programs. Through an innovative collaboration of organizations, Project Bridge provides educational, mentoring, vocational and transportation services to help our young people achieve stable and successful lives and avoid re-entry into the juvenile and criminal justice systems.


Detention Center Celebrates Black History Month

hillsborough detention The Hillsborough Regional Juvenile Detention Center hosted a Black History Month celebration for its youth. Major Jason Grice and the Hillsborough County Schools put on a program that included a D.J., several guest speakers, songs, a dance routine to Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror”, poetry, rap and drumming. All three mods competed in a game of Black History trivia with the winning mod earning a pizza party from the teachers.

The youth were also able to get a taste of soul food prepared by the juvenile detention officers and teachers. All youth enjoyed this event together, were on their best behavior, and had a blast while learning about the history of African American culture. Major Jason Grice and the Hillsborough family would like to thank the guest speakers and volunteers that made this event a success!



palm beach detention cakePalm Beach Regional Juvenile Detention Center hosted a Valentine’s Day party for all youth. The center hosted a door decorating contest, where the female youth won the competition. The youth were able to enjoy a comforting meal of smothered chicken, yellow rice, cabbage, cake, and a drink. The youth were also able to give their parents Sweethearts candy as a gift. Thank you to all the staff that made this day possible!




broward valentines day partyBroward Regional Juvenile Detention Center held a Valentine’s Day party for all youth. The party included video games, ping pong, and food made by detention center staff. The party was a greatly enjoyed by the youth!