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Secretary's Message

May 10, 2013

Wansley WaltersDear DJJ team members:


Welcome to my weekly letter. I am pleased to share the following news and announcements.

ROADMAP UPDATE: With the 2013 Legislative Session over, we are moving full-steam ahead with our next Roadmap meeting. We are scheduled to be in Fort Myers during the last week of May where we will hold a meeting for stakeholders and public town hall meeting. I will also meet with the editorial boards at Naples Daily News and The News-Press. To view the Roadmap calendar and listen to recordings from previous meetings, click here.  

JUVENILE JUSTICE FORUM: On Monday, I joined newly appointed Miami-Dade Police Director J.D. Patterson Jr. as a guest speaker at a forum on the state of juvenile violence at the main branch of the Miami-Dade Public Library. This free event was sponsored by the Miami-Dade Economic Advocacy Trust and focused on addressing neighborhood juvenile crime, as well as updates on current juvenile legislation and its impact on local communities. As always, I was thrilled to share with the audience the department’s ongoing efforts to transform Florida’s juvenile justice.



COMMUNITY CENTER GROUNDBREAKING: On Wednesday, I was honored to stand alongside House Speaker Will Weatherford, State Senator Wilton Simpson, Pasco County Commissioner Ted Schrader, and other officials from Pasco County’s Boys and Girls Club to break ground for the new community center in Lacoochee. This new multi-million dollar facility will house the Lewis Abraham Lacoochee Boys & Girls Club, and will give this once-thriving Pasco County community the resources they need to help local children become productive citizens. When I spoke, I reiterated my belief that a community’s values are often reflected through the opportunities it gives its young people to succeed and I told them that I think it’s wonderful to see the leaders of Lacoochee, Pasco County and the state working together to create a community center where those values can be shared. For Pasco County’s young hearts and minds, the Lacoochee Community Center will be a campus for personal growth, a safe haven, and a hub of opportunity.






MARION COUNTY NCCER GRADUATES TEN: Back in February, our agency announced the opening of a new facility in Marion County in conjunction with the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER), D & D Asphalt, Marion County Public Schools, Oldcastle Materials and Youth Services International where students from the Marion County Juvenile Correctional Facility could complete their core curriculum designed to give them the basic skills that could lead to a career in over 60 specialty craft areas including construction and design. (Read the press release from the initial announcement here.) Today, I’m ecstatic to announce that the first 10 youth enrolled in NCCER training have successfully completed the program and have received their industry recognized credentials. This community-wide partnership, still in its infancy, is a great example of the positive opportunities DJJ provides the youth in our care, and I am excited that we can all celebrate in their success. 

EXECUTIVE DASHBOARD: Kudos to Amy Greenwald, Sonny Peacock and Mark Russell for completing the new executive dashboard, which highlights and tracks measurable statistics throughout the juvenile probation system. I personally requested this new feature so that DJJ could set performance measures to identify measures that support reform. The dashboard sets floating benchmarks where goals can change as the numbers fluctuate. While this dashboard doesn’t represent all of the daily duties that probation officers perform, it does provide a snapshot of reform. The data related to youth contacts have been extracted from more than 2.2 million case-note entries made by probation staff and providers over the last 12 months. I thank them for all of their hard work. 



Save our Society from DrugsPROBATION UPDATE: Circuit 5 JPOS Kim Lambert and SJPO Kacey Edmonson attended a luncheon sponsored by the Lake County Safe Climate Coalition entitled ‘Marijuana: Policy Update and Florida Perspective’ on April 30. This luncheon discussed the staggering statistics that coincide with youth marijuana use, such as marijuana use among twelfth graders being up nearly 20 percent over the last four years. Amy Ronshausen, manager of legislative and congressional affairs for Save our Society from   Drugs was the guest speaker along with US  Congressman Daniel Webster from House District 10. Congressman Webster spoke on his continued support against the legalization of

continued support against the legalization of marijuana in Florida

(From left: Debi MacIntyre Executive Director of Lake County Safe Climate Coalition, JPOS Kim Lambert, Congressman Daniel Webster, SJPO Kacey  Edmondson, Amy Ronshausen Manager of Legislative and Congressional Affairs for Save Our Society From Drugs.)

Circuit 11’s Probation and Community Intervention Unit 112 implemented Youth Empowerment Sessions designed to provide local youth with the opportunity to engage in conversation that will positively impact their lives. These sessions, held weekly, give children the opportunity to earn valuable community service hours, which will be applied toward their high school education requirements. In addition, youth who encourage their families and friends to attend receive extra community service as the sessions are intended to prevent other children from making decisions that will lead them into the juvenile justice system. In order to complete this program, youth must attend at least seven of the ten sessions provided. The sessions began in April and will conclude with a graduation ceremony on June 3.

From Circuit 17, kudos to JPO’s Kimberly Bosket and Regina Gonzalez for conducting a Life Skills Training Group at Blanche Ely High School in Pompano Beach. This training group was tailored to address the individual needs of three “at-risk” young ladies, and it provided them with assistance to help turn their lives around. The group ended with a graduation on May 1, and the lessons have already made a lasting impression on the youth, according to ninth grade assistant principal at Blanche Ely Malcolm Spence. Spence said that he has seen a remarkable turnaround in each of the young ladies since they started the life skills group.

Manatee RJDC

DETENTION UPDATE: On April 30, youth at the Manatee RJDC welcomed guest speaker Shelia Raye Charles, daughter of legendary singer and Florida’s own Ray Charles. Ms. Charles leads the “One Way Up” Prison Ministry in which she travels to juvenile detention centers across the country telling her own story of drug addiction and imprisonment, and how she turned her life around with the help of God’s grace and love. Her message was not only empowering, it was mixed with music and singing that the youth in attendance could really relate to. I would like to thank Ms. Charles for speaking to our youth and setting a wonderful example for children everywhere.

(From left: facility chaplain Barbara Waiters-White,Superintendent Edwin Kelley, Shelia Raye Charles and her husband Tony Steptoe)

PREVENTION UPDATE: Kudos to delinquency prevention specialist Tina Levene from circuits 10 and 13 who had the honor of speaking at the RiseUp Coming Alive! Woman’s Conference on May 3 in Massillon, Ohio. This speaking engagement came on the heels of the promotional tour for her new book entitled Let Your Lessons Become Your Blessings, a devotional guide based on her own auto-biography. The book discusses her own restoration from a past of abuse, trauma, addictions, bad choices and gives hope to the hopeless. Tina was also a featured speaker at the Miami-Dade County Foster & Adoptive Parent Association Conference – Celebration of Superwoman to give Foster & Adoptive parents encouragement, support and appreciation for all that they do.

HEALTH SERVICES UPDATE: DJJ held its first regional trainings in April on Mental Health Training Curriculum for Juvenile Justice (MHTC-JJ). Forty-Eight members of DJJ staff were trained in the Northeast region in Jacksonville on April 18th and the Northwest region in Chipley on April 26th. Employees learned how to be patient and try to understand the youth’s illness, engaging families, and keeping an open mind to youth as they discuss their problems and concerns. The next MHTC-JJ regional will take place in the Central Region later this summer.  The Office of Health Services will be providing information regarding the upcoming regional training over the next few months. Many thanks to all the staff who trained their fellow employees during this time including: Darrel Bacon, DJJ Management Review Specialist,  Philip Amorgianos of Gateway Community Services, Stephanie Savo of Youth Services International, Sharon Wise of Gulf Coast Youth Services, Tamara Bogle of Gulf Coast Youth Services, April Walker JJDO, Heather Lincicome, DJJ Senior Behavioral Analyst, John Beck, DJJ Senior Behavioral Analyst and Gayla Sumner, DJJ Director of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services




Wansley Walters



PS: Please send any noteworthy or newsworthy items for consideration in my weekly letter to the Communications Office at News@djj.state.fl.us or call 850.921.5900. Submissions are considered on a space-available basis and may be edited for clarity and length. Thank you for your cooperation.