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Secretary's Message

April 18, 2014

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, both DJJ employees and those who work for our contractors, and the youth in our care. I am always looking for opportunities to showcase 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

The Governor’s Corner by Governor Rick Scott

Governor Rick ScottFloridians across the state have been seeing the benefits of Florida’s opportunity economy. Our unemployment rate is down, our labor force is increasing, and we have created more than half a million new private sector jobs. These exciting opportunities would not have been possible without our public servants. Your hard work is helping to make even more investments to improve the lives and health of Florida families.

One of these investments is our $80 million commitment to cancer research included in the “It’s Your Money Tax Cut Budget,” which is an overall increase of $30 million from last year’s budget. This investment includes $60 million to help existing Florida Cancer Centers achieve National Cancer Institute designation and another $20 million for peer-reviewed research grants.   Families all across Florida have been affected by cancer. We will remain committed to becoming a national leader in cancer research and providing all families with access to world class treatment.

Probation Review Practice Network

Earlier this week, Deputy Secretary Christy Daly participated in the first meeting of the Probation Review Practice Network presented by the Robert F. Kennedy National Resource Center in Chicago. Christy was selected in January to serve on the Network because of her committed work and innovation within the area of probation system reform. The purpose of this group was to foster the development and exchange of innovative practices and reforms, create an active and expanding cross-site learning environment, implement and develop innovative new strategies and solutions and provide national leadership on the targeted issue. I would like to thank Christy for representing our agency in this groundbreaking reform project. 

DJJ Employee of the Month

I am pleased to honor Secretary Specialist Laura Lampros from the Circuit 8 Probation Office as DJJ’s Employee of the Month for March. Laura goes above and beyond the call of duty as she volunteers as much as possible with local non-profits in the Gainesville community. She coordinates donations of food, clothing and supplies to the less fortunate youth in our care, and has even found local churches to assist families with their ever increasing utility bills. She works closely with the local Boys Ranch as she helps youth with the enrollment process and is dedicated to the Project Find Program where she works with the local Elks Lodge and the Department of Children and Families in locating missing children. I would like to thank Laura for finding every opportunity to give back to the youth and families we serve.

Please join me in congratulating Laura on this tremendous honor!

The Employee of the Month for April will be highlighted in the near future and I would like to remind everyone to please keep sending your nominations for the monthly DJJ Employee of the Month Award. You can do so by clicking here

Prevention Update

On Monday, Assistant Secretary for Prevention Wanda Finnie, North Region Detention Chief Sheddrick Brooks, Circuit 2 Advisory Board Chair Donnie Read and other prevention staff members led a “Community Conversation” at the Veteran’s Memorial Civic Center in Bristol. Community Conversations provide local residents with the opportunity to discuss areas of concern involving local youth in their community in an effort to steer them away from the juvenile justice system. The next Community Conversation will be held on May 22 in Fleming Island.

Last Friday, Michael Broward, James Messer, Andrew Fritz, Dakota Henley, DJJ youth from Santa Rosa County, were recognized for their success in turning their lives around to be mentors and role models for other at-risk youth. These students were nominated by DJJ and the event was sponsored and supported by the Northwest Florida Prevention Coalition, Eckerd, Santa Rosa County School District, Project Connect, Probation, and CDAC.  The youth and their parents attended a dinner, heard positive recognition write ups about their youth, certifications of achievements were awarded, and each youth received a gift for their hard work. 

The Flagler DJJ Council last week on Youth Success Day recognized more than 20 youth from their community who have had difficult challenges in life and turned their lives around. The “2014 Turn It Around” event took place at Flagler Palm Coast High School.

The Flagler DJJ Council believes that any youth who has had a difficult circumstance or who has made some unwise choices can make the choice to “travel a different road” as was referenced in the Robert Frost poem, “The Road Less Traveled.” 

The Council also believes in the value of recognizing these youth who have made that choice and are now on the path to a successful future. The Council respects the role of the parents/guardians, mentors, intervention agencies and others in assisting with this process. This annual event serves as an opportunity to recognize and honor these youth for their hard work and achievement. 

Other Youth Success Week activities included a Trauma Informed Care Workshop, a PAL 3-on-3 Basketball tournament and a Teen Court Mock Trial.

(from left to right): Road to Success Coordinator Brian Willard (left) and Reverend Elijah Emanuel of the Carver Center (right) congratulate Icey Lumpkins on her award.

Faith and community leaders from Circuits 6, 12 and 20 attended a rally for Faith and Action for Strength Together (FAST) on April 7 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg with over 3,000 in attendance. FAST is an interfaith social justice network of 38 congregations in Pinellas County. It looks for ways for faith communities to collaborate to promote justice, health and wholeness. The impact addresses issues that come from organized voices of everyday people. The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and his followers modeled this process during the Civil Rights movement. Much of what FAST does is "neighbor standing with neighbor" listening for voices that are not heard and standing with one another to bring about change in the way communities function---bringing change in systems.

Following a listening process (listening to concerns in neighborhoods), each fall the congregations determine at a Fall Assembly the issues to address in the upcoming year. For example, in 2012 FAST addressed: 1. Drugs/Crime: Re-institution of rehabilitation program in jails so that people will have tools to re-enter society with job and life skills; 2. Job opportunity; 3. Reading programs in elementary schools that will reverse the dropout rate in high schools. After the decision in the fall, many people from the congregations comprise research teams and contact local officials directly involved in the issue, well-known field researchers across the country, and other communities who have addressed this problem. After comprehensive research, FAST determines the specific aspect of an issue to address. FAST not only does research, it offers realistic solutions. In the spring FAST invites local officials to a meeting of between 2500-3000 people and asks the officials to make commitments to address specific problems. FAST monitors actions related to the commitments. The next large assembly will be at 6 p.m. on May 22 at  Most Holy Name of Jesus in Gulfport.

Yesterday, Federal Grants Coordinator Juliet Westmoreland led a training session on the Juvenile Accountability Block Grant (JABG) program at DJJ Headquarters. In order to assist Department staff in navigating the JABG funding process, Juliet and other DJJ team members provided instruction on Federal Funding Semantics, Role of Purchasing, Role of Contracts, Role of Finance and Accounting, OJJDP Data Reporting Requirements and a Shared Services briefing.

Also making presentations were: Christy Daly, Deputy Secretary; Yvonne Woodard, Federal Grants Manager; Michele Lewis, Director of Purchasing; Bob Roller, Bureau of Contracts; Evelyn “Kay” Jacobs, Finance and Accounting Director III; Erika Gaeta, Prevention Analyst from the Bureau of Research and Planning and Beth Davis, Interim Bureau Chief for Contract Management.

Last Friday, Special Projects Manager Eugene Morris and Administrative Assistant Yvonne Maffia from Prevention accompanied North Region Probation Director Jill Clemens, CPO Gwen Steverson, ACPO Karen McNeal, JPOSs Joy Curtis and Donna Webb and JPOs Ashley Graves, Patti Elliot and Ann McKinnon to the Circuit 4 Advisory Board meeting on the Yulee campus of Florida State College.  The highlight of the meeting was a Youth Panel Q&A involving six youth who have been involved with our system. The teens talked about the challenges they faced and the factors that led them to have contact with the juvenile justice system. Most admitted to having been involved with drugs and they agreed that a lack of after school activities contributed to some of their difficulties. The youth said they might have made better decisions had anyone explained to them the consequences of their actions. They also said that more parent involvement and associating with more positive friends would have assisted them.

In addition to the Youth Panel, there was a discussion on Civil Citation and Standing Committee Updates on Disproportionate Minority Contact, Faith Community Network, Grant Review, and Legislative issues.

The Juvenile Justice Circuit Advisory Boards primarily focus on juvenile delinquency prevention programs and services such as mentoring, teen courts, neighborhood accountability boards, partnership programs, after-school programs and public forums. The Florida legislature authorizes the establishment of Circuit Advisory Boards. The Circuit Boards serve as advisors to DJJ according to their statutory responsibilities. Members of the boards work closely with DJJ staff to plan for services that meet the identified needs of juveniles and families within the local community.

Peace Jam Conference

Last Saturday, five of the girls from PACE Center for Girls/Leon attended the Peace Jam Southeast Conference held at FSU.  During the conference the girls were given an opportunity to tell their stories on stage to Nobel Peace Prize recipient Leymah Gbowee who was the honored guest and keynote speaker. The girls stood with courage and conviction.  Two of the girls, Erin & Marisol, were given the honor of escorting Ms. Gbowee to the Capitol.  It was a significantly important experience for the girls. 

Leymah Gbowee is a Liberian peace activist responsible for leading a women's peace movement that helped bring an end to the Second Liberian Civil War in 2003. Her efforts to end the war, along with her collaborator Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, helped usher in a period of peace and enabled a free election in 2005 that Sirleaf won. This made Liberia the first African nation to have a female president. She, along with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Tawakkul Karman, were awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize "for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women's rights to full participation in peace-building work”

Youth Engagement Coordinator Cici Battle also spoke with Peace Jam Advisors and students about the Florida Youth Commission during their annual conference. Peace Jam is an international educational program built around Nobel Peace Laureates who work personally with youth to pass on the spirit, skills and wisdom they embody. The goal of Peace Jam is to inspire a new generation of peacemakers who will transform themselves, their local communities, and the world.

Probation Update

Last week’s Youth Success Day was a true success for the team in Circuit 11. Last Monday the probation staff held a Youth Success Week celebration at the courtyard on the grounds of the Juvenile Justice Center. This year’s event provided staff the opportunity to donate clothing and food items to the less fortunate youth and families in our care. In addition, the Circuit held a successful hot dog fundraiser benefiting various youth activities.

In addition to the celebration back home, Circuit 11 is very proud of 2014 Youth Ambassador Evan Flynn who was chosen for his work on the Circuit 11 Juvenile Justice Advisory Board. Evan is attending Florida Memorial University on a scholarship. Last week’s letter mistakenly had Evan coming from Circuit 9. Apologies to the Circuit 11 staff who nominated Evan and worked so hard to make sure he was in Tallahassee to be honored as a Youth Success Ambassador at Youth Success Day.

On April 8, SJPO Sonya Washington, JPO Jenny Hickox and Secretary Specialist Marie Hunt from Circuit 19 attended a career day event in Okeechobee County in conjunction with Youth Success Day. Our staff members assured the youth in attendance that they were committed to helping them realize their full potential by developing short and long term goals while abiding by the sanctions of the court. 

Last Wednesday, CPO Wydee’a Wilson, ACPO Dorothy Malik and JPO LeAndrea Darden from Circuit 19 participated in the “Reach for the Stars” event in St. Lucie County. This event provided the youth in our care with an interactive discussion with probation officers and guest speakers as they move toward their primary goal of leaving the juvenile justice system and becoming productive citizens. 

JPO Timorya Ware and other staff from the Circuit 19 probation office participated in the Indian River County Fun Day last Thursday in Vero Beach. This event was intended for the youth in our care to have a good time, but also gave them a message about integrity and trustworthiness as they make their way through the probation system.

Martin County held its “Career Day” in conjunction with Youth Success Week last Thursday in Stuart. Circuit 19 JPOS Ann Marie Campbell and JPO Gregory Shahood accompanied youth in their care to the event where they heard from guest speakers who spoke on setting a positive direction and becoming more goal-oriented to become successful. The guest speakers in attendance reminded those youth that in order to become successful they must educate themselves academically and explore the particular job or career they are interested in by gathering information about the type of degree or vocational experience needed.

As part of Youth Success Week, members from the Circuit 6 probation staff sponsored an Open House on April 9 at their facility in Dade City. A total of 51 youth and their families were in attendance during the celebration, which gave them the opportunity to share stories and exchange information. Our agency provided refreshments, distributed several informational flyers to the community, developed contacts and enjoyed the fellowship of the community.

Last Friday, Circuit 6 probation staff at the Wildwood Service Center sponsored a kickball game and cookout in celebration of Youth Success Day. Our staff members played kickball against youth from Home Builders International and the Charles Britt Academy. The youth had a wonderful time as they took home bragging rights by winning the game 9-3.

Circuit 1 Transition Specialist Tarrah Holton accompanied a youth in her care to a ceremony for Youth Success Week last Thursday in Pensacola. Tarrah nominated this youth as a youth success story and accordingly the youth received an award for her achievement from our agency as well as State Senator Greg Evers. Tarrah said that she felt this recognition was especially important for the youth in question because just a few weeks ago her father came up to her GED class and humiliated her in front of the class by telling her he didn’t know why she was there because she’s not serious about her education. Tarrah reiterated by saying that the positive reinforcement from our JPOs may be all these youth will ever hear and she is proud that the youth is proving her father wrong.

Circuit 3 CPO Tom Witt participated in a town hall meeting in White Springs presented by the Tobacco Free Coalition of Hamilton County. Tom gave an overview of Civil Citation as well other DJJ initiatives that are taking place in Hamilton County. 

Over the last several months, youth from the Paxen Community Connections in Brevard participated in a home restoration for Nana’s House, which houses neglected, abused, needy or abandoned children in Brevard County. These youth in our care measured sheet rock, drilled and patched holes in the roof and walls, mixed cement and installed tiles while earning valuable community service hours in the process. These youth discussed the importance of restorative justice and giving back to a community they have taken from. For more information on Nana’s House, click here

Last Tuesday, Circuit 20 hosted their first ever Youth Success Day Event in downtown Ft. Myers. CPO Peg Lamarca, JPOS Tracie Foss and Special Projects Liaison Rick Wetherell hosted the event along with other local service providers. Reform Specialist Lut Clarcq organized and coordinated with the Lifeline Family Center, PACE Center for Girls, JDAP, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the Lee County Coalition for a Drug Free Southwest Florida. This event highlighted the winners of the DJJ Poster Contest and Circuit 20 would like to thank Five Guys, Regions Bank and Publix for their generous donations of gift cards to the selected winners. 

Circuit 20 JPO Shana Feren and the Cape Coral Police Department organized a bike drive on April 9 to distribute bicycles to those youth in need. Shana has been working closely with the Cape Coral Police Department over the years to make this bike charity program successful for our youth who are in need of used bicycles. 

Step Forward, a faith based initiative, held an interfaith call-to- action prayer breakfast on March 21 in Pensacola. Circuit 1 Reform Specialist Therese Moses stood as a faith based coordinator for the event which was emceed by Sue Straughn from WEAR-TV. The keynote speaker was Lakeesha Tucker whose book Little Girl Lost, Journey of a Soldier describes her story of living on the streets as a teenager, and how one mentor changed her life. 

CPO Jill Wells and Reform Specialist Melanie Kretzman from Circuit 8 attended the University of Florida Criminology and Law Honor Society meeting last Thursday in Gainesville. Jill and Melanie made a presentation about the agency and our reform efforts and spoke with several students about a possible internship over the summer. About 40 society members were in attendance and they expressed an interest in working with our Department on several Community Service projects. 

Residential Update

The Office of Residential Services (ORS) is conducting its annual youth surveys in all residential facilities.  During this annual process, approximately 30 percent of all the youth who are in residence on the date of the survey are interviewed in a face-to-face setting.  The primary purpose of the youth surveys is to ensure programs are providing a safe, secure and abuse-free environment that is driven by each program’s procedures, culture and environment.

Prior to site visits and interviews, members of the ORS headquarters team review the Central Communications Center (CCC) incident reports for the program for the previous six months, any corrective action plans that have been issued, and the program’s most recent Quality Improvement (QI) report to identify any “limited” or “failed” indicators.  A week prior to a program visit and with the assistance of the Research & Planning staff, the ORS headquarters team uses a random selection process to choose the youth who will be interviewed.  The total percentage of youth to be surveyed is comprised of three different categories:  youth who are new to the program (in residence for 2-4 weeks); youth who are at the half-way point of treatment in the program; and youth who are preparing for re-entry to their home communities. 

There are two teams of two people who interview the youth and complete the surveys.  Each team includes a member of the ORS headquarters staff and a regional program monitor.  The teams meet in two separate areas at the program to conduct private interviews with the selected youth.  After the interviews, the ORS headquarters team members will take a brief tour of the program.  The purpose of the tour is to observe youth and staff interactions, assess the program’s culture, and assess the program’s efforts to create a normal environment for the youth. 

Shown here are some images from the teams’ recent visit to the Alachua Academy, a non-secure program for females that is operated by The North American Family Institute.  The artwork shown was painted by the girls in the program. 

Last week, the staff and residents of the Union Juvenile Residential Facility (JRF), a moderate-risk program for males, ages 12 to 19, operated by Sequel TSI of Florida, LLC, celebrated a young man’s successful program completion.  This was truly a success story.  When he entered the commitment program last June, he was heavily involved in gang activity and displayed anger. 

In the early days of his commitment, he tried to promote gang recruitment and intimidated those who did not respond to his enticements.  His refusal to comply with program rules and his lack of respect for the safety of others for the first two months of his stay at Union JRF resulted in him being assigned to an emergency treatment team with intensive intervention techniques.  Due to those interventions, he committed to change his behaviors. 

Over the next eight months, his behavior improved dramatically; he was even elected by his peers as the Student Government President.  His transformation made a positive impression on the staff and his peers, as well as on the volunteers from the Keystone Methodist Church (shown in these photos) who held a special graduation gathering for him.  

Juvenile Detention Officer Graduation Ceremony

Today, Secretary Walters delivered the welcome address to congratulate the newest class of DJJ detention officers (JDOs), which graduated today in a ceremony at DJJ Headquarters in Tallahassee.  JDOs supervise youth in state-operated regional juvenile detention centers (RJDCs) as they await an appearance before the court, or placement in a juvenile residential treatment facility.  Thanks to Learning Consultant Duane Pace for training the officers for this position of critical responsibility, and to Samadhi Jones for her assistance. Each graduate successfully completed 240 hours of training to become a certified officer and will serve in the regional juvenile detention center (RJDC) listed next to their names.

(Left to right) first Row: Sandy Behrens (Bay RJDC), Alexiys Nichols (Monroe RJDC), Ashley Burns (St. Lucie RJDC), Jalessa Garcia (Collier RJDC), Valarie Murphy Taylor (Monroe RJDC)

Second row left to right: Katinka Thomas (Volusia RJDC), Takeem Witter (Marion RJDC), Katelyn Huber (Bay RJDC), Joseph Kidwell (St. Lucie RJDC), Stefanie Farrone (Okaloosa RJDC)

Third row left to right: Michael Smiley (Escambia RJDC), Kyle Knaust (Escambia RJDC), Sophie Franklin (Marion RJDC), Christopher Britton (Leon RJDC), Pamela Nettles (Okaloosa RJDC)

Fourth row left to right: David Towery (Bay RJDC), David Kurau (Escambia RJDC), Nicolas Plumer (Collier RJDC), Clarence Boone (Escambia RJDC), Raymond Gates (Bay RJDC)

Fifth row left to right:  James Brooks (Southwest RJDC), Reginald McKelvin, Jr., (Leon RJDC), Robert Hoyle (Okaloosa RJDC), Gladimir Prinston (Monroe RJDC), Carlos Rios (Marion RJDC)

Florida Retirement System Financial Planning Workshops


The Florida Retirement System is offering free financial planning workshops for your FRS-covered employees via webcast.  The workshops will be held on Tuesday, April 29, and Wednesday, April 30, and will be on the following topics: 


10:00 a.m. to Noon ET

1:00 to 3:00 p.m. ET

Tuesday, April 29

Using the FRS to Plan for Retirement

Estate Planning: Caring for Your Loved Ones

Wednesday, April 30

Nearing Retirement in the FRS

FRS Investment Plan: Understanding Your Benefits

Employees wishing to register for these workshops should call 1-866-446-9377, Option 2. 

Employees who sign up to attend an online workshop will receive details for logging in and participating a few days prior to the workshop.

Employees in the Tallahassee area can attend the workshops in person at the State Board of Administration, 1801 Hermitage Boulevard, Tallahassee, FL 32308.

If you have any questions, contact Lorna Jackson in the Bureau of Personnel at (850) 717-2656.

Trauma Informed Care Webinar

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s (OJJDP) National Center for Youth in Custody (NCYC) will present “Trauma Informed Care,” the first Webinar in the series “What Works? A Practitioners Response to Theory and Evidence,” on April 30. This webinar will provide a training and testimonial to the use and success of Trauma Informed Care (TIC) in juvenile confinement facilities. The Webinar will explain what TIC is, how to go about implementing it in your facility, as well as what is currently being done in TIC facilities along with their observations and success rates.

I am so pleased that two of our own will be speaking on this panel: South Region Detention Director Dr. Gladys Negron and North Region Detention Director Dixie Fosler. For more information concerning this webinar including registration information, please click here.