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Secretary's Message

June 21, 2013

Secretary Walters’ Weekly Letter

I am so proud to share every week the great work occurring here at the Department of Juvenile Justice, and I hope you will take a moment to read the stories about the accomplishments of our colleagues and the youth in our care. I am always looking for opportunities to showcase DJJ employees and the work you do – on and off the clock – to enrich your communities. I know there is even more going on than what I report here, so I would like to encourage each of you to keep the weekly letter in mind and remember to share your good news. It’s easy – email news@djj.state.fl.us or call (850) 921–5900 by Thursday at noon (submissions after that time will be considered for the next week’s letter).


Wansley Walters

Legislative Affairs Kudos

On Thursday, June 20, Jon Menendez and Marcus Smith from the Office of Legislative Affairs spoke with a  small group of youth involved in Florida YMCA’s Youth in Government Program. These impressive 11th and 12th graders were elected by their peers to serve in leadership roles in the state assembly as a part of their Youth in Government Program. Jon and Marcus gave an overview of the department, current reforms associated with the Roadmap to System Excellence, and a briefing on 2013 legislative priorities as well as plans for the 2014 session. The youth also initiated a great dialogue about how to bring a positive message to the peers in their communities, how to get their peers involved, and how the department is engaging youth in the area of prevention.

The group will come to Tallahassee again in February, along with over 400 of their peers, to participate in their annual mock government State Assembly where they will put forth and act on their own legislation. Thanks to Samantha Lane, Executive Director of the Florida YMCA- Youth in Government Program for giving the department the opportunity meet with these young leaders. Congratulations to these youth on their elections to leadership roles in the program;  we are so proud of their desire to serve their communities and be engaged and active participants in government. Last but certainly not least, thank you, Jon and Marcus, for taking the time to provide these youth with insight into the department’s operations and goals!  

Residential Kudos

In the April 19 edition of the weekly letter, I mentioned that  Stuart Wolcott from Residential Services won the grand prize in the Family Dollar/Coca-Cola Pay-It-Forward sweepstakes. (To refresh your memory, click here.) On Wednesday, Stuart accepted the grand prize in the form of a check for $10,000, which will be donated to the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Big Bend. Stuart also received a $1,000 dollar gift card to the Family Dollar which, will also be donated to the Greg McCray Boys and Girls Club of Tallahassee. In addition, Stuart received a congratulatory letter from Governor Rick Scott. On behalf of our entire agency, I want to congratulate Stuart for winning and for helping out a great organization.

(L-R):  Pictured here presenting the $10,000 check for the Boys and Girls Club isTodd McGovern from Family Dollar; Stuart Wolcott, OMC Manager for ResidentialServices Northeast-HQ; Teresa Flury with Boys and Girls Clubs; and Holley Hunter from Coca-Cola.

Prevention Update & Kudos

Director of Faith Network and Chaplaincy Services Andy Hindman hosted the Circuit 1 Faith Network and Chaplaincy Leadership Team meeting in Pensacola Thursday, June 20. Topics included ways to expand leadership, enhance the Faith Network and develop the Circuit 1 Faith Forum and Chaplaincy Training. Our faith-based partners play a critical role in reaching Florida’s at-risk youth and their families, and I am thrilled that Circuit 1 is exploring the Faith Forum and Chaplaincy Training because the six-hour course ensures our chaplains are prepared to serve the youth and families within the juvenile justice system. To date, 720 volunteer chaplains and faith volunteers have completed the Chaplains Basic Training, and I look forward to seeing that number grow as we continue to focus on prevention services. Another meeting is scheduled next week in Sarasota; if you or someone you know may be interested in participating, contact Andy at Andy.Hindman@djj.state.fl.us.

Office of Prevention Assistant Secretary Wanda Finnie, along with staff members from Prevention, Probation, Detention and Residential are in Apalachicola today for yet another Community Conversation. The goal of these public meetings is to offer parents, youths, community advocates and juvenile justice officials the opportunity to let us know what services and resources are most needed in local communities. We know that family and community engagement is critical to preventing kids from making contact with the juvenile justice system, and I am proud that we have agency-wide representation to send a strong message that we are fully committed to helping Florida’s families and communities thrive. 

Probation Kudos

On Wednesday, June 19, JPOS Heather Ferrara and SJPO Mitzi Petty volunteered with Keep Manatee Beautiful for the second time, adhering stencils to storm drains around down town Bradenton.  The stencils help spread the message that toxic waste dumped in a storm drain will flow directly to the nearest river, lake, bay or Gulf of Mexico. Their efforts help protect Manatee County’s water quality. Great job, ladies! Thank you for being a role model to the youth and demonstrating that DJJ cares about all aspects of the community.

Civil Citation Update

I am pleased to report that memoranda of agreements have been signed by stakeholders in Walton and Santa Rosa Counties to begin civil citation. In Walton County, civil citation will begin as a school based initiative and will expand shortly thereafter while Santa Rosa County has begun county-wide civil citation this summer. These moves show that the DJJ Roadmap is working as more and more counties get on board. The Highlands County Sheriff and the St. Augustine School for the Deaf and Blind are also moving forward to implement civil citation, and I hope to bring you more information on other counties as it becomes available.

Workers Compensation Report

The workers compensation report for May has been released and the numbers continue to show positive results. Eighteen of our 21 detention facilities reported two incidents or less, while four out of five residential facilities also reported no incidents. These numbers are very impressive, and I would like to congratulate everyone for making safety a priority.


Since we’re talking safety now is a good time to remind you that strains make up six percent of our incidents and usually involve heavy lifting. I want to encourage employees to evaluate objects before lifting them because making good decisions prevent injuries.  

Master PAR Instructor Workshop

The Office of Staff Development and Training held a Master Protective Action Response (PAR) Instructor Workshop this week in Tampa at Hillsborough Community College. Master PAR instructors teach the facility-based PAR instructors, who train DJJ probation, detention and residential officers how to intervene with youth using the minimum amount of force necessary to de-escalate conflict situations. The workshop addressed the PAR fidelity process, changes to PAR trainer qualifications, modified requirements to get and maintain PAR certification, and revisions to the PAR rule (including training requirements related to the addition of the Prison Rape Elimination Act). Following this training, the duties of the master PAR instructors will expand from providing PAR fidelity monitoring and coaching to juvenile justice staff in state-run and contracted provider facilities throughout Florida to regularly reviewing PAR incident reports and videos from facilities and evaluating PAR training curricula and approved techniques in considering revisions to the Florida Administrative Code. Master PAR instructors contribute to the safety of children and staff in DJJ programs by safeguarding staff accountability and ensuring proper intervention techniques are used with youth.



 Left to right, front row: Lead Master PAR Instructor Andrea Minnis, Gina Creuziger, Freda Smith

 Middle row: Max Filsaime, Johnny Odom, James Gray, David Mills

Back row: Lead Master PAR Instructor Duane Pace, Shannon Burch, Gale Wire, Charles Bryant, Kiva Hagans, Welton Sanders


I would like to recognize the “Swamp Boys” from the AMIkids Big Cypress Facility for participating in the Adopt-a-Grandparent program at the Bentley Village Retirement Community in Naples. The young men visit the facility almost every week and visit with the retirees. According to the manager of the facility, the residents are excited to see the Swamp Boys each week and love seeing them as much as their own grandchildren. It goes to show what a great program the Adopt-a-Grandparent is. In fact several of the boys have continued to stop by the facility and volunteer after graduation. I am very proud of the Swamp Boys and all of our youth for their continued volunteerism within their communities.

Human Trafficking Update

As most of you know, for the second consecutive year, DJJ will host a Human Trafficking Summit on October 3, 2013, on the University of South Florida campus in Tampa. With the date fast approaching I would like to encourage everyone to please send in their nominations for the Human Trafficking Prevention Awards, which will be handed out during the opening session of the summit. The awards program recognizes an outstanding advocate, prosecutor and law enforcement official working to prevent human trafficking in Florida. For more information on how to nominate someone, click here. 

My congratulations to Human Trafficking Coordinator Tyson Elliot who spoke Thursday at the Department of Education’s Office of Healthy School Summer Academy in Orlando along with Florida’s Human trafficking Advocate Deborah Polston. Tyson and Deborah spoke on child sex trafficking at the event which was attended by district physical education and health education leaders from around the state.

Personal Holiday Reminder

I want to remind all full-time equivalent (FTE) employees that the personal holiday for fiscal year 2012-13 must be used no later than June 30th. The data entry of the personal holiday can occur after this time, but the date the personal holiday is used on the time sheet must be within this date range. The personal holiday for the 2013-14 fiscal year will be available for use on July 1st