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Secretary's Message

March 9, 2015

Secretary Daly’s Weekly Letter

Last week, the Florida Legislature convened for the 2015 Legislative Session which marks the 117thregular session for Florida since becoming a state in 1845. A regular session of the Legislature lasts for 60 consecutive days and our agency looks forward to working with our legislative partners to serve Florida’s at risk youth and families. 

As always, our agency and providers continued to work hard and accomplished much this past week.  I hope you will take a moment to read the stories about the accomplishments of our agency staff, our colleagues, and the youth in our care.

As always, 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.


Christina K. Daly

Statewide Council on Human Trafficking

On Monday, Statewide Human Trafficking Director Bethany Brimer and I attended a meeting of the Statewide Council on Human Trafficking.  During the meeting I gave a presentation on “Restoring Our Kids,” which is a report developed in an interagency workgroup between our agency and DCF. The purpose of this report was to provide an overview of the prevalence of the commercial sexual exploitation of children or CSEC in Florida. This presentation highlighted the promising practices from around the nation and what next steps our state can make in adopting these practices as well as steps to improve our current continuum of care available to both victims and survivors of CSEC. I was pleased to review our need for a statewide coordinated system of care as well.

The council also heard from State Representative Jeanette Nunez who discussed the current legislation on human trafficking as well as members of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement who have created a new elite squad dealing strictly in human trafficking cases. 

Florida Children’s Council

Last Thursday I was invited to be a part of a panel discussion at the Florida Children’s Council meeting at the TCC Center in Tallahassee. The discussion centered on the Council’s support for both our agency and the Department of Children and Families. The Florida Children’s Council and Children Services Councils across the state are created through the will of the people. They are first established by a county commission through a local ordinance. Voters can then approve taxing authority for a Children’s Services Council through a countywide referendum. Florida is the only state in the nation with laws that allow local county leaders and the residents of those counties to create a special government entity that’s sole purpose is to invest in the wellbeing of children and families.

JJSIP Update 

Congratulations go to Director of Research and Planning Mark Greenwald, Data Analyst Mark Russell, and former-DJJ employee Michael Baglivio, Ph.D., on the publication of their research article, “Assessing the Implications of a Structured Decision-Making Tool for Recidivism in a Statewide Analysis,” in the latest issue of Criminology & Public Policy (CPP).  CPP is a quarterly publication of the American Society of Criminology that is devoted to policy discussion of criminology research findings and the implications for practice. 

This article is about the implementation of the Disposition Matrix, which was developed by DJJ as part of the Juvenile Justice System Improvement Project (JJSIP).  It is used as a guide by juvenile probation officers in making recommendations to the court.  JJSIP is composed of two tiers: the Comprehensive Strategy for Serious, Violent, and Chronic Juvenile Offenders (including the Disposition Matrix) and the Standardized Program Evaluation Protocol (SPEP).  The SPEP evaluates how closely delinquency interventions, as provided, align with the features of the most effective evaluated programs in the field, including homegrown ones with high quality evaluations and very positive reductions in recidivism.  The goal of the JJSIP project is to provide the right service for the right youth, at the right time, and in the right dosage.  The study published in CPP examined whether the recidivism rates of youth with dispositions made within the suggested range of the Disposition Matrix differ from the recidivism rates of those youth whose dispositions were outside of the suggested range. 

Using a sample of more than 38,000 juvenile offenders, the researchers found that the dispositions made that were within the suggested range resulted in an average recidivism rate of 19.4%, whereas those whose dispositions were outside of the range had an average recidivism rate that was nearly twice as high (38.7%). 

Furthermore, youth whose dispositions were at the least restrictive option within the suggested range were the ones who performed best.  Dispositions above the suggested range (more restrictive) performed poorly.  However, those whose dispositions were below the suggested range (less restrictive than suggested) were the ones who performed the worst.  The results found held true for males and females, across race and ethnicity, and across risk-to-reoffend levels. 

For those who are not members of the American Society of Criminology, a copy of the article is available online by clicking here

Detention Update

Last month, the staff at the Orange RJDC celebrated Black History Month by inviting a variety of guest speakers to speak to the youth at our facility. These speakers addressed a bevy of topics including working together, crossing cultural barriers, and thinking differently about people of other races and cultures. In addition, teachers and staff at the facility made cultural dishes for several deserving youth who recited speeches they wrote for the event. The Orange County School Board expressed their sincere appreciation for making Black History month a rousing success.

Students from Southeast High School in Manatee County organized a book drive last month to benefit our at-risk youth at the Manatee County Juvenile Detention Center. Three Southeast students presented the donated books to JDOs Larry Smith, Logan Downs and Sherman Rackley last week at the facility. The picture seen left comes courtesy of the Bradenton Herald. 

A group of 30 young men and women from the National Association for the Prevention of Starvation (NAPS) visited with our youth from the Pasco RJDC last week to raise awareness for the less needy and hungry in the local community. The NAPS group performed skits, sang songs, and gave testimonials concerning their travels throughout the United States and around the world. NAPS is dedicated to bringing relief to tens of thousands of children and families as they strive to bring about human dignity and the prevention of starvation. The group can be seen in the picture to the right with Pasco Superintendent Ida Burns

Superintendent Daryl Wolf brought a group of her students from the Miami Dade RJDC into the kitchen to make candy that resembles Almond Joy and Mounds candy bars. All of the students involved were together and had a fantastic time making candy.   

PREA Update

Congratulations to the following programs for passing the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) Audit:

  • Daytona Juvenile Residential Facility;
  • Duval Regional Juvenile Detention Center;
  • Hastings Comprehensive Mental Health Treatment Facility / Gulf Academy;
  • JoAnn Bridges Academy; and
  • Leon Regional Juvenile Detention Center.

Completed PREA audit reports are posted on the Department’s Web site which you can view by clicking here. 

Residential Update

On Valentine’s Day, students and staff from the Orange Youth Academy (OYA) and Orlando Intensive Youth Academy (OIYA)—which are both non-secure programs for males that are operated by G4S Youth Services—showed some love to the Historical Eatonville Community.  As part of a Restorative Justice Project, they helped Eatonville Mayor Bruce Mount clean up some areas of the community. 

As part of the day’s experiences, Mayor Mount gave the students a history lesson about the City of Eatonville.  He shared with them that Eatonville was one of the first African American Communities in the United States, incorporated on August 15, 1887.  He also noted for the boys some of the famous Eatonville citizens: 

  • As a toddler of three, the late Zora Neale Hurston moved with her family to Eatonville in 1894.  She became a renowned folklorist and author whose works glorified Eatonville as a place where African Americans could live as they desired.
  • Born in Eatonville in 1938, the late David D. “Deacon” Jones was an American football defensive end in the National Football League (NFL), playing for the Los Angeles Rams, San Diego Chargers, and the Washington Redskins.  He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1980.
  • Born in 1963 in Eatonville, Norm Lewis, is a Tony Award nominated baritone singer and actor who stars in the TV series “Scandal.”
  • Ha’sean “Ha Ha” Clinton-Dix grew up in Eatonville and was a star high school recruit who became an All-American safety and two-time national champion while attending the University of Alabama.  He publicly claims to be inspired by fellow Eatonville football player and Hall of Famer Deacon Jones.  Ha Ha was chosen as a first-round pick and now plays safety for the NFL Green Bay Packers.  

The Mayor’s historical recounting was an inspiration to the boys from OYA/OIYA and much discussed as the young men set about the task of community cleanup.

Later that week, the OYA/OIYA students and staff attended the Inaugural WOAMTEC Foundation “Courage to Dream” Youth Summit at the Hilton Doubletree near SeaWorld.  WOAMTEC is the acronym for Women On A Mission To Earn Commission, which is a professional women’s networking organization.  The conference was held to inspire students to become better citizens.  Students from all over Orange County attended the one-day event to learn from various keynote speakers who experienced personal hardships and overcame obstacles to become successful. 

The WOAMTEC FOUNDATION Courage to Dream Campaign first teaches young adults who have been abused, neglected, or abandoned through no fault of their own, how to participate in the Courage to Dream Challenge.  Then, WOAMTEC gives them immediate access to mentorship, tools, and resources to help them achieve their goals by connecting them with business leaders in the community.

While almost everyone is familiar with the old adage “practice makes perfect,” the Men of Distinction at Brevard Group Treatment Home (BGTH)—a non-secure program for males, ages 12 to 15, that is operated by Aspire Health Partners—live by Vince Lombardi’s quote, “…only perfect practice makes perfect!” 

On Feb. 17, the Men of Distinction participated in Part Two of their etiquette training with Grandma Linda, Volunteer and Etiquette Coach Linda Wimberly.  Joining the young men selected in February, were their fraternity brothers from January.  The young men from the January Men of Distinction serve as mentors and a support group for the newly selected Men of Distinction.  The Men of Distinction program continues to provide exposure to the young men of BGTH so that these social skills become second nature.

Grandma Linda shared that it is a delight helping the young men prepared for their true test, which is an off-campus visit to a restaurant.  A few days later, BGTH Director Joseph “Joe” Nixon, Lead Program Specialist Tremain Gillis, and Morale Chair Rashawnda Anderson, enjoyed dinner with the Men of Distinction at the Texas Roadhouse in Port Orange.  The young men maintained their perfect etiquette practice no matter how much they ate. 

“It was a special night because it was dinner with my sons,” Joe Nixon said.  “These are the types of things I do with my biological kids that help shape who they are.  Hopefully, these experiences can have the same impact on these incredible young men we serve.”

On Feb. 19, the youth—known as Champions—of the Miami Youth Academy (MYA), a non-secure program for males, ages 14 to 18, that is operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC, were surprised by a special guest visit:  NFL Running Back for the Miami Dolphins Lamar Miller.

He graciously took time with the Champions, playing basketball, calling football plays, and signing miniature footballs and shoes for them. 

He also shared words of encouragement and advice for aspiring athletes. 

The young men were admittedly nervous and star-struck by Lamar’s presence but his personality and compassion for at-risk youth put the Champions at ease.  They even felt comfortable enough to share examples of their talents: listening to and following coach instructions, running football routes, defending routes, running sprints, dunking basketballs, and dancing—as shown in the photo to the right.

Many thanks go to MYA staff members, Ms. Flores (shown on the basketball court in the photo on the right) and Mr. McInnis, who made this event possible.  

At MYA, it’s not all about sports.  Every weekend, caring people visit MYA from near and far to share their time and lives with the young men during visitation.  The MYA youth council embraced the opportunity for most of the young men to participate in a culinary arts experience, making heart-shaped sugar cookies and chocolate chip cookies, and heart-shaped paper pouches that were filled with Valentine’s Day candies.

The youth and staff of the Charles Britt Academy, a non-secure program for males, ages 14 to 18, operated by Youth Services International, Inc., spent last weekend helping the local community.  Assistant Program Director Amanda Flournoy and Group Leader John Reed accompanied six residents who helped a local senior citizen and her daughter clean up their property.  This type of Restorative Justice Project in itself is nothing new for the staff and youth, but the effect that the young men had upon the local residents during this project was amazing. 

The local residents were so impressed with the positive behavior and manners of the youth that they came to the program afterward, bringing cake, chicken, and cards for the staff and the boys to show their appreciation. 

Ms. Williams, a local resident, stated, “You young men exhibited very positive behavior and I really appreciate you.” 

On March 1, six students of the Challenge Juvenile Residential Facility, a non-secure program for males, ages 13 to 18, operated by Eckerd Youth Alternatives, attended the National College Fair in Tampa.  Students were chosen based on the recommendations of their teachers and case managers. 

During the college fair, students had the opportunity to meet with college admission counselors and representatives from hundreds of colleges and universities who spoke with the students one-on-one concerning the college admission process, opportunities for financial aid, collegiate athletics, and college life in general.  

One of the students who attended commented that the college fair made him to reflect on the decisions he made.  He said, “Another thing that I got on my mind is the time that I am really wasting for getting in trouble with the law.  All of the good things I am missing out in the outside…I am going to try my best to finish school and go to college.” 

Prevention Update

Delinquency Prevention Specialist Pat McGhee attended the 2015 National Conference for Bullying February 24-27 at the Rosen Centre Hotel in Orlando. The National Conference on Bullying was hosted by the School Advocacy Council and presented in partnership with the Florida Association of School Administrators and the Florida Association of School Resource Officers. This conference brought together educators, law enforcement officials and community representatives to raise awareness and provide valuable information on the issues surrounding bullying. The conference focused on evidence-based strategies and solutions as well as best practices for preventing bullying and building safe, caring schools and communities.

The conference had professionals from around the world who addressed bullying. There were over 45 breakout sessions including: “Legal Updates on Bullying Issues,” “What are Kids Doing Now,?” “Cyber Safety and Social Networks.” The conference detailed different types of bullying: The Physical – Harm to another’s person or property; The Verbal – Taunting, teasing, extortion or threats; The Relational Aggression – Harm to another’s self-esteem or group acceptance; The Sexual Harassment – Inappropriate sexual comments, gestures, or behaviors; and The Cyberbullying – Using technology to intimidate or harass another person.

In the above photo (from left to right): Audrey “Pat” McGhee, Delinquency Prevention Specialist; Tracy Pruitt, Coordinator of Support Services, Indianapolis Public Schools; Tamara Taylor, presenter of the Behind the Mask and Founder and  President of Rise to Impact Change, LLC, Fort Worth, Texas; Deborah Thomas, Assistant Principal, William J. Montford Middle School, Tallahassee.

The Harmony Development Center conducted a Kinship Family Fun Day in January where youth and staff worked together to feed in homeless in Broward County. Feeding the homeless in their community and bringing families together for positive and uplifting activities are examples of how the Harmony Development Center, a DJJ Prevention provider, works in their community.

HDC was established in 2001 to promote positive behavior among youth within their families, schools and communities. With the encouragement of organizations like the Dan Marino Foundation, the State of Florida Department of Juvenile Justice and the Children’s Services Council of Broward, 

Harmony was able to grow into a relevant provider of services to at-risk youth in Broward County, Florida. HDC has established itself as a strong presence in Broward County providing programs that serve youth showing one or more of the following risk factors: School behavior and performance, mental health or substance abuse, and delinquent behaviors.

Girls from the PACE Center in Jacksonville, volunteered at the First Coast Health and Rehabilitation Center in Jacksonville on February 23. PACE Girls from PACE Jacksonville volunteered at the First Coast Health & Rehabilitation Center where they provided beauty services, such as manicures, to residents as a part of their community engagement initiatives. PACE Girl Alyssa spent her afternoon painting the nails of some of the residents. 

First Coast Health & Rehabilitation provides extended-stay nursing care to seniors with varying levels of disabilities in Jacksonville.

The PACE Center for Girls of Broward County held their 14th Annual Believing in Girls Empowerment Luncheon on January 30 in Fort Lauderdale. Three PACE Broward girls shared details of their personal journeys before, during, and for one girl following the completion of their attendance at PACE with 450 guests at the annual Believing in Girls luncheon. The annual fund raiser provided an opportunity for the Broward community to learn about the PACE program and the services it provides to girls in their community. The event raised more than $100,000 to provide additional services to local PACE girls. 

Probation Update

CPO Cassandra Evans and Reform Specialist Tina Robinson from Circuit 17 made a presentation at the Allen Chapel AME Church in Miami entitled “Empowering our Youth to Reduce the Violence in Our Neighborhood.” The event at Allen Chapel was hosted by the South Conference Christian Debutante Master Commission that was presented to a multi-generational group of debutants, parents and advisors . Cassandra and Tina spoke on the impact and importance of education, influences and making good choices. 

Please join me in welcoming Lauren Dax Maldonado as the new Statewide Reform Coordinator for the Office of Probation and Community Intervention. Lauren, who is slated to begin her new role on March 13, has extensive experience with children and families. She was worked with the local Capital City Youth Services and Children’s Medical Services as a private clinical therapist. Lauren has been trained in the SNAP Program and is currently facilitating the boys SNAP group in Tallahassee.

Probation Staff from Circuit 11 celebrated Black History Month in February by paying homage to “The Divine Nine.” The Divine Nine is the group of historical African American fraternities and sororities that make up the Black Greek Letter Organizations (BGLO).  Brothers and Sisters from Circuit 11 spoke about their experiences with the BGLO and this gave staff a venue to reconnect with each other and maintain the “Circuit of One.” The event proved to be a rousing success.

Probation Staff from Circuit 15 in Palm Beach County came together last month to celebrate Black History Month during a luncheon that honored diversity. Each JPO and support staff brings their rich and diverse background to work with the youth and families we serve. Pictured below are: JPOS Cedric Pla; Secretary Specialist Jaime Synder, JPOs: Tiffany Patrick, SJPO; JPO Irene Collymore; JPO Frank Grant; JPO Andrew Ambrose; JPO Pektra Edgerton. Not Pictured are JoAnn Williams, SJPO; JPO Junior  Jean-Charles, Cherreba Henderson and Lucy McGuire (Volunteer). 

Several DJJ youth from Eckerd’s Project Bridge facility in Manatee County spent over four hours volunteering at the Daily Bread Food Pantry to prepare lunch for the less fortunate in the local community. These youth worked hard to bag over 100  pounds of  sugar and 50 pounds of rice for the food pantry before preparing lunch for over 30 people. The youth made quite an impression on the pantry staff, who enjoyed working alongside the young men and encouraged Eckerd to bring them back for more volunteer work to complete their community services hours. Project Bridge encourages their program participants to give back to their local communities. 

Juvenile Justice Probation Officer Graduation 

Congratulations to the newest class of juvenile justice probation officers (JPOs) that graduated March 6, 2015, in a ceremony in Clearwater. Thanks to Cathy O. Lake, DJJ central regional director for the Office of Probation and Community Intervention, for delivering the graduation address. 

JPOs ensure youth comply with court requirements and assist teens and their families in accessing services that support the youths’ success, such as counseling and skills development. They work with youth in judicial circuits throughout Florida at every point in the juvenile justice continuum, from initial intake screening through the supervision of services. They provide a formal recommendation for each youth who is arrested, and advise the court regarding appropriate sanctions and services.

Thanks to Cina Wilson Johnson, Andrea Minnis, Michele Hancock, Khalilah Daniels, Kiva Hagans and Katherine Gomez for leading these officers through the certification process for this position of critical responsibility. Each graduate successfully completed 403 hours of training to become a certified officer and will serve in the city listed next to his or her name, below.

Front row (left to right):  Dexter Battle—Tampa, Jajaira Matos—Bartow, Zelhis Pluguez—Orlando, Sheila Hurst—St. Petersburg, Shanea Walk—New Port Richey, Kathy Merus—Titusville, Aimee Reffner—Clearwater, Jacquelyn Feurt—St. Petersburg, Stephanie Norton—Titusville, Jesika Rojas—Orlando

Back row:  Tiana Martinez—Bartow, Wayne Craig—Bartow, Jenny Sosa-Bonaldy—Orlando, Cassandra Bielawski—Bartow, Herijo Gonzalez—Kissimmee, Melissa Cruz—Orlando, Randi Gomillion-Jones—St. Petersburg, Sarah Jordan—St. Petersburg

CORRECTION: We apologize that the names of the juvenile justice probation officers below were not printed in the correct order last week. Thanks again to these important members of the DJJ team for all their hard work to turn around the lives of Florida’s children!

Florida Public Safety Institute Juvenile Justice Probation Officer Academy Graduates, February 27, 2015 

Front row: Antonio Ramriez–Inverness, Leilanie Zeller–Green Cove Springs, Nathalie Adonis–Belle Glade, Valentina Wiltshire–Jacksonville, Shawnta Walker–Trenton, Rhonda Gard–Pensacola, Allis Richardson–Stuart, Tara Heinle–Naples, Terrance Watkins–Gainesville, Erik Skow–Jacksonville,

Middle row: Ronald Dolbeck–Gainesville, Julie Johnson–Ft. Walton Beach, Andrew O'Brien–Milton, Cynthia Barkley-Smith–Jacksonville, Amanda Donaldson–Ft. Myers, Samantha Hartzog–Lake City, Samuel Lyons–Ft. Pierce, Adam Morkan–Vero Beach, Judy Copeland–Milton

Last row:  Michael Allshouse–Ft. Walton Beach, Gerry Pea–Pensacola, Chaderick Lancaster–Milton, Charles Dutton–Alachua, Jon Johnson–Daytona Beach, Felicia Moore–Trenton

Staff Development and Training Update


This introductory course provides a basic overview of leadership and the fundamentals of managing teams. It features a three-minute video focusing on transformational leadership for quick learning, and provides optional hyperlinks to related information for the more detail-oriented learner.
(Estimated time to complete: 20 minutes.)