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Secretary's Message

October 26, 2012

Dear DJJ team members:

Wansley WaltersWelcome to my weekly letter. Please allow me to share some recent news and announcements.

2012 FAITH SYMPOSIUM A SUCCESS: Today was the culmination of a remarkable week in which hundreds of people from across Florida and the nation joined together at the “Our Children, Our Future: Restoring Hope” faith symposium in Orlando. DJJ and the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) co-hosted the event, which brought together more than 450 faith partners and representatives from faith-based organizations. The symposium offered opportunities for meaningful collaboration to change lives and strengthen communities. Among the guest speakers joining DCF Secretary David Wilkins and me at the event were former National Football League (NFL) coach Tony Dungy, former NFL player Derrick Brooks (Derrick Brooks Charities), Rhodes Scholar and former NFL player Myron Rolle and “Papa” Joe Bradford, the subject of the motion picture “Unconditional,” and who founded Elijah’s Heart charity with his wife, Denise. The symposium concluded today with a luncheon at which Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll was the guest speaker.

 

Secretary Walters and Papa Joe Bradford
Me and “Papa” Joe Bradford

Faith Partners provide services such mentoring, tutoring, after-school programs, counseling and pastoral care. Faith partners often bridge the transition home for youth leaving DJJ programs. Their efforts are critical, because the successes youth achieve in DJJ often become challenging to sustain once they return home. 

Secretary Walters Derrick Brooks Deputy Secretary Daly Philanthropist and former Tampa Bay Bucs player Derrick Brooks with me and Deputy Secretary Christy Daly

This event was so inspiring and could not have occurred without the tireless work and dedication of Andy Hindman, who heads up faith-based efforts in DJJ’s Office of Prevention and Victim Services. Stephen Brown from the Residential Services office in Fort Pierce also displayed his singing talent at the symposium’s opening on Wednesday. I am confident more organizations and people are now motivated to volunteer as faith partners and chaplains to reach more youth. To learn how to become a faith partner or volunteer chaplain, please click here. To view Tweets and Twitter pictures from the event, please click here. Thanks to all the participants, attendees and staff who made this event a great success!

JUVENILE JUSTICE STATE ADVISORY GROUP (SAG): The SAG held its first meeting this week in Orlando. Members of the SAG have training, experience, or special knowledge of the juvenile justice system and are appointed by the Governor to administer and manage DJJ’s federally allocated funds. On Tuesday, the Coalition for Juvenile Justice (CJJ) held an all-day meeting to discuss the roles and responsibilities of the members. On Wednesday, SAG members voted unanimously to support the Roadmap to System Excellence. Many of the members stayed in Orlando to attend the 2012 Faith Symposium. Thanks to SAG members for their commitment to serving the at-risk and troubled youth of Florida! 

SAG Meeting
SAG meeting in progress this week

ROADMAP UPDATE: Dates have been set for upcoming Roadmap to System Excellence Town Hall meetings across Florida. Stakeholders, employees, civic leaders, parents, youth, and the public at large are encouraged to attend and contribute ideas to shape the path to juvenile justice reform. Please visit the Roadmap Calendar of Town Hall Meetings often for the latest information. 

DETENTION ANNOUNCEMENT: Please join me in congratulating William Nockengost on his appointment as superintendent at Collier Regional Juvenile Detention Center (RJDC). William has been with DJJ for 15 years. Previously, he served as assistant superintendent at Southwest RJDC. His detention experience includes work as a community youth leader, and as an assistant superintendent at West Palm, Collier and Southwest RJDCs. William also worked as assistant program director at the Kingsley Center for Girls in Arcadia, a DJJ contracted-provider program. Prior to joining DJJ, he served 21 years in the U.S. Army and as a deputy sheriff with the Tarrant County (Texas) Sheriff’s Department. William was appointed Sept. 28.

LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS UPDATE: The DJJ Legislative Affairs Office, led by Ana Maria Sanchez, seeks to promote awareness and share the vision of those involved in serving the at-risk youth of Florida. The goal is to increase visibility, improve communication and build stronger partnerships between the agency and its elected stakeholders. DJJ’s four legislative initiatives for the 2013 session include: 1) Amend child abuse and neglect statutes to cover young adults The proposal will amend F.S. 827.03 so that, solely for purposes of prosecution under the statute, a “child” will include persons of whatever age who are “detained in a detention or residential facility under chapter 985”; 2) Repeal statutory authority for juvenile tours of correctional facilities and jails – F.S. 945.75 allows the state and each county to develop a program by which a judge may order a juvenile to tour a state correctional facility or county jail.  Punitive jail tours violate the Federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act, which can result in DJJ losing two-thirds of its federal funding. The funding at stake is used to fund community-based prevention programs, which are typically a high return on investment; 3) Streamline and consolidate the Juvenile Justice Boards and Councils – F.S. 985.664 authorizes the creation of 87 different boards and councils. DJJ proposes streamlining this system into 20 Circuit Advisory Boards representing each judicial circuit and county in the state. Currently, not all existing boards and councils are able to comply with the statutory requirements of membership and the current system does not produce consistent results. Maintaining a manageable system of high-performing Circuit Advisory Boards will provide a stronger voice for counties and local communities in juvenile justice related issues, encourage stronger collaboration at the local level, and allow for stronger community-based partnerships; 4) Remove the reference to Youth Custody Officers – F.S. 985.105 is an obsolete statute since Youth Custody Officers (YCO) were eliminated from the budget effective July 1, 2010. The duties of YCO were either distributed among existing employees, or are no longer performed by DJJ. Click here for more information on DJJ’s legislative initiatives.

 

TRAUMA-INFORMED CARE DAY REMINDER: In observance of Florida Trauma-Informed Care Day on Nov. 1, DJJ will host a community forum at Central Christian Church, 3010 N.E. 14th Street in Ocala from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm. The guest speaker will be Tonier Cain, subject of the movie “Healing Neen,” who will discuss trauma, incarceration and recovery. The public is invited to join DJJ and Tonier in celebrating the restorative power of hope as we care for victims of trauma. (DJJ employees must seek supervisor approval to attend.)

 

 

 

My sincere thanks to all employees, and especially our faith-based partners, for your ongoing commitment to juvenile justice reform. Please enjoy a safe weekend.

 

 

 

Sincerely,

 

 

 

Wansley Walters

 

Secretary

 

 

 

PS: Please send any noteworthy or newsworthy items for consideration in my weekly letter to Communications Director C. J. Drake at cj.drake@djj.state.fl.us or call 850.921.5905. Submissions are considered on a space-available basis and may be edited for clarity and length. Thank you for your cooperation.

 

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