Welcome to the new DJJ Website!
Find out how to use the new site.

Secretary's Message

July 13, 2015

Secretary Daly’s Weekly Letter

Last week was a full and productive time for our agency and providers as we continued our work in serving Florida’s at-risk youth and families.  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

Dedication Ceremony for Julia Strange

On Thursday, our headquarters staff along with detention superintendents from around the state gathered together for a dedication ceremony honoring our late Deputy Secretary, Julia Strange. 

Our DJJ family along with Julia’s family came together to memorialize Julia’s legacy with a plaque that will hang in the lobby of the Knight Building to celebrate her life and career with our agency. 

Julia exemplified the very passion and advocacy the staff of DJJ strive to achieve every day. I am truly grateful for those that were able to join us to remember our dear friend. She was a true champion for Florida’s children and she will forever be greatly missed. 

School Safety Conference

On Monday, I was honored to serve as a guest speaker at the National Association of School Resource Officer’s (NASRO) 25th Annual School Safety Conference. This event, which was hosted by the Florida Association of School Resource Officers, brought together school resource officers, law enforcement, school security/safety professionals, school board members, school administrators from around the country and was one of the largest gatherings of its kind.   

Thanks to the commitment and dedication of our school resource officers and school personnel, we are seeing an increase in youth being successfully diverted away from the system. The collaboration between DJJ and our school partners is critical as we strive to reach our youth early to keep them out of trouble and in the classroom working towards their future.  

Detention Superintendents’ Meeting 

On Tuesday, I was excited to join our detention superintendents for a meeting and cookout at the Pat Thomas Law Enforcement Academy in Midway.  This meeting brought together superintendents from across the state for training, the sharing of best practices, and a discussion of the standardized facility operating procedures. Thank you to all of our superintendents for your participation and the hard work you do every day!

Detention Update

In the picture on the left (from left to right): Sgt. Anthony Johnson; Sgt. Pamela Nettles; Capt. Regina Berry; Chief Rick Brooks; Sgt. John Eaton; Sgt. Kelvin Walker. Pictured right is North Regional Director for Detention Services Jeff Wenhold.

On Monday, North Regional Director for Detention Services Jeff Wenhold addressed staff members from the Okaloosa RJDC during an all-hands meeting last week. During this meeting, newly appointed Assistant Superintendent Regina Berry acknowledged her supervisory team and surprised them each with a set of personalized business cards. Captain Berry has been an integral part of the facility’s positive interior changes over the last several months. Okaloosa staff also gave Superintendent Rick Brooks a gift as a token of appreciation for his help and guidance over the last six months. 

Prevention Update

On June 23rd, Delinquency Prevention Specialist Pat McGhee and JPO Jill Gould from Circuit 6 attended an awards and recognition ceremony during the annual meeting of the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Suncoast at the Valpak Center in St. Petersburg.

Pat and Jill accepted the Community Partnership Award from the Boys and Girls Clubs on behalf of the Circuit 6 DJJ staff for their commitment to the youth in Pinellas County. Approximately 100 people attended this event which highlighted the 2014-2015 Fiscal Year and honored deserving staff, volunteers, corporate sponsors and community partners.

The Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center, a DJJ prevention provider, moved into a new office space on June 26th in Jacksonville. The Center has joined the hub of nonprofit innovation at the Jessie Ball duPont Center, in the heart of downtown Jacksonville.

The Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center engages communities, organizations and individuals through quality research, training, model programming and advocacy to advance the rights of girls and young women, especially those in, or at risk for involvement in, the juvenile justice or child protection systems. The Policy Center provides trauma-informed individual and family therapy, crisis intervention, leadership development, telemental health, care management, advocacy services, enhancements groups and diversion classes to individuals and their families.

Child prodigy Biana Pinchuk performed at Miami Bridge, a DJJ prevention provider, on June 6th. The event was organized and sponsored by Miami Bridge Board Member Alfred Karram, Jr. of AKJ Design Concepts LLC.

Biana sings over 200 songs in six languages, performing all types of music from opera to classical crossover to Broadway to pop. She also composes her own music and plays advanced violin. She has already performed in a national commercial for America’s Got Talent, won the South Florida Kids Got Talent contest, was a finalist in the New York Broadway show “Annie,” (out of 23,000 children who auditioned), and has performed with the Florida Grand Opera. Biana has also traveled internationally, nationally, and locally to perform at private and professional events, country clubs, shopping malls and for non-profits. 

Shelter youth said her performance was so "amazing” that they were inspired to create a talent show a few weeks later. Under the direction of the residential counselors, the youth put on a great show filled with dance, song, original poetry and short monologues. Youth's families and Miami Bridge staff gathered to watch the talent, and they did not disappoint!

Alisha Sturrup, an alumna of Miami Bridge attended Rice University Law Camp June 21-27 at Rice University in Houston.  At the urging of Miami Bridge Board Members, Ms. Sturrup was able to attend the special law school program which is sponsored by the Hispanic National Bar Association with all expenses paid. 

With the help of vital community partners, Ms. Sturrup was able to take advantage of this exciting opportunity. Ms. Sturrup was a residential youth at Miami Bridge in 2013. Since then, she has kept in touch with the Bridge family regularly and was the obvious candidate for Miami Bridge CEO, Dorcas Wilcox, to nominate for the last spot in the program.

Special thank you to Miami Bridge partners who worked hard to make this happen: Judge Victoria del Pino, Michelle Ortiz, Natalia Mendez, Dagmar Llaudy, Delaila Estefano, Norma Pacheco, Gina Beovides, Jose Ortega, Candace Borja and Miami Bridge Board Members Adrian Delancy and Marlene Quintana.

Delinquency Prevention Specialist Marie Boswell attended a Farm Share food distribution and community resource fair on June 26th  at the New Beginning Enrichment Center in Miami. More than 300 residents received food and 18 community organizations took part in the food distribution. Community members received free fresh vegetables, canned goods, milk, packaged chicken, and noodles. They also received information from the organizations in attendance.

Last year, Farm Share, a Homestead-based nonprofit that distributes fresh produce and federal food packages throughout Florida free of charge, provided more than $40 million in food to more than one million families. Using inmate labor and volunteers, it collects, sorts, packs and distributes food to individuals and more than 700 soup kitchens, homeless shelters, senior centers, veterans groups and churches, among other charitable organizations. Farm Share relies on grants and local farmers, and brokers who donate produce that fails to meet market conditions because of size, shape or blemishes.

Probation Update

Apologies to ACPO Johnny Alderman for including the incorrect name in last week’s newsletter. Congratulations again to ACPO Alderman (pictured center) from Circuit 9 who was awarded the Distinguished Service Award from the local chapter of the Florida Council on Crime and Delinquency (FCCD). Assistant Chief Probation Officer Johnny Alderman has been a part of the DJJ family for 15 years. This Distinguished Service Award recognizes his “contributions, commitment and dedication to both the Corrections field and the citizens of Central Florida.”  In addition to Johnny’s accomplishment, Sanford Police Chief Cecil Smith was given the FCCD Law Enforcement Award and Orange County Homicide Detective Eric Debose (formerly a JPO with DJJ) was presented with the Criminal Justice Award. 

Recently, Circuit 16 JPOS Paul Armstrong and Residential Program Coordinator Mark Olshanksy from the Florida Keys Children’s Shelter attended a graduation ceremony of one of their probationary youth at the Glen Mills Schools just outside of Philadelphia.

The school is the oldest continuously running residential program for at-risk youth in the county. The school began as the Philadelphia House of Refuge in 1826 and they have been at their current location since 1889. The school offers 25 different vocational programs including an optical lab, print shop, sports medicine, dental field and golf management and also offers 15 athletic teams that compete all over the state and sometimes nationally. More than just the facilities, it is the people who make the program special and the Glen Mills Schools has a brilliant staff who are dedicated to helping young men turn their lives in a positive direction.

Thank you to Glen Mills for covering the costs for staff to attend such an important life event for this youth.

Probationary youth from Eckerd’s Project Bridge program in Circuit 19 were taken to obtain their Florida State ID’s. In addition, they were treated to a shopping trip to the local Beall’s Outlet where they had the opportunity to purchase new interview clothes. Youth participated in a “Dressing for Success” workshop where proper interview attire along with proper interviewing skills were taught.  The skills training included the selection of their attire and after receiving these new outfits youth went out into the community to search for jobs.

Another story from Eckerd Project Bridge this week teaches us that with persistence we can achieve great things.  Robert was enrolled in Eckerd Project Bridge four different times before becoming successful in the program.  He came into the program unmotivated, not caring, and disrespectful to staff and peers.  

In Circuit 19, the community has been plagued with daily violence where young males have been gunned down in broad daylight.  This youth has seen several of his close friends murdered where gang retaliation has been a big motive.  On the fourth entry to Project Bridge, Robert appeared to be confused and not knowing what he wanted to do.  

Project Bridge moved forward with specific goals and for the first time he had a clear understanding of what needed to be done. He began to work hard!  With the support of all of the Eckerd Project Bridge staff and his JPO, Robert realized there are people that do care.  With the recommendation of the JPO under the direction of Project Bridge staff, Robert was accompanied to the Job Corp orientation in West Palm Beach.  It was there that they received all the necessary information for his next scheduled appointment in July where he will be accompanied again.  

Robert is highly motivated to complete this process and looking forward to attending the Job Corp in Gainesville. He is determined to move away from negative behaviors and influences.  We are all so proud of Robert as he is on his way to opening a new chapter in his life! 

Reform Specialist Elaine Thompson organized a meeting of the Circuit 16 Faith Network at the Fifth Street Baptist Church in Key West. Prevention staff members Craig Swain and Yvonne Maffia from DJJ Headquarters were in attendance as well as Pastor Ozzie Vater of Fifth Street Baptist, Eric of Marathon Seventh Day Adventist, Father Guzman, Billy Davis of A Positive Step of Monroe County.

Probation staff in Circuit 9 held a retirement party for Secretary Specialist Ileana Espanola on June 30. Ileana has worked with our agency for more than 17 years. She began her career at the Pine Hills Probation Office, but has been with the Kissimmee Office for the last 14 months. On behalf of the entire agency, I would like to congratulate Ileana for a long and distinguished career with DJJ and wish her well in her retirement! 

From left to right: JPO Natasha Taylor, Supervisor Patricia Arroyo, JPO Jerome Hardison, JPO Rhonda Arline, JPO Eddie Gonzalez, JPO Shavonia Cruz, Supervisor Eileen Sevlie, JPO Egnis Ortiz, Ileana Espanola, and JPO Madeline Rodriquez.

Reform Specialists Liz Phillips and Melanie Kretzman and Director of Policy and Programming Jeannie Becker-Powell conducted Stop Now and Plan (SNAP) facilitator training on July 9th and 10th in Tallahassee. This training was conducted for our new facilitators in both Tallahassee and Gainesville. The five day training will conclude on July 16th.

DJJ Probation staff in Circuit 3 had their probationary youth collect canned goods in lieu of community service hours for the Christian Service Center in Lake City. All told the youth collected 192 pounds of food that will be used for needy families in Columbia County. 

Reform Specialists Bree Thaxton and Therese Moses, both of whom are certified EPICS trainers, held a three day introductory training session for members of the Circuit 14 probation team. This training makes the circuit fully trained in the EPICS behavioral model. Staff members will now participate in the six month fidelity phase of EPICS and will use this technique with several high risk youth. Staff will teach the youth intervention skills, record their sessions, and submit audios for coding.  Feedback will be provided to staff about youth interactions and staff’s use of the model.  The goal is to help staff perfect the techniques of EPICs and provide a more structured quality interaction with youth in order for youth to learn skills in dealing with difficult situations and understand how to change negative thoughts to lead to better outcomes.

(Back row, left to right)  Sr. JPO Robin Myers, JPO Greg Parker, JPOS Charlene Miller, Sr. JPO Derrick Henderson, JPO Muriah Kirkland, JPO Clint Schweers, JPO Shaneka Gardner, JPO Jacob Fisher,  (front row) Reform Specialist Bree Thaxton, Reform Specialist Therese Moses.

Probationary Youth in Circuit 12 from the Project Bridge program took part in a Sweet Treats by Hope Business and Entrepreneurship class last week. These youth created a list of ordinary skills and abilities, brainstormed about why these skills and abilities are important, and discussed how these ordinary skills and abilities can be used to pursue entrepreneurship and self-sufficiency. The youth then took part in a hands-on training to learn how to prepare, decorate, package, and market chocolate-covered Oreos. As a part of the training, the participants were also taught about the top ten business owners who are all under the age of 16-years-old. 

Residential Update

On June 17, the Palm Beach Juvenile Correctional Facility, a high-risk program for males, ages 13 to 18, operated by Youth Services International, Inc., held its commencement ceremony. 

The program had its largest high school graduation class in recent years—12 residents earned high school diplomas.  The graduating residents, former residents who returned to graduate with their class, facility staff, school board employees, and the residents’ families attended the commencement ceremony.  The keynote speaker was Tradrick McKoy, legislative aide to State of Florida Representative Bobby Powell, Jr.  

The following is a letter from the Palm Beach County School District’s graduation coordinator, pertaining to the event:

 Hello Everyone, 

This comes as a "thank You" for your planning, time, energy, input, attendance, participation, collaboration, and "well wishes" you made in support of our 2015 graduates. 

The 2015 graduation ceremony was fitting as the "Crown Jewel Affair" for our students because each of you had an integral role in their success story. Thank you Youth Services International (YSI) for your collaboration and networking toward a successful graduation ceremony. 

You are to be commended for continuing to plant the seeds of success for our students at Palm Beach Juvenile Correctional Facility in order for them to become successful global citizens as they re-integrate back into their communities, with their high school diplomas. 

It was awesome to see so many parents, family members, Educational Alternatives staff members, School District faculty and support staff, YSI Leadership team and support staff present. The students and their parents have expressed sincere "thanks" for each of you for your untiring efforts which made this a "great" day for their sons. 


Thanks Again.

Alma C. Horne, Graduation/Career Coach

Last month, seven residents of the Walton Youth Development Center (WYDC), a high-risk commitment program for males, ages 13 to 18, operated by Gulf Coast Youth Services, became new “life savers.”  In partnership with Home Builders Institute, Inc. (HBI), the program offers American Red Cross First Aid, CPR and AED Certification to the youth.  According to the American Red Cross website, “Red Cross First Aid, CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and AED (automated external defibrillator) training and certification meets the needs of workplace responders, professional rescuers school staffs, professional responders, and healthcare providers, as well as the general public.”  

Even though the training was on the boys’ one and only day of summer break from academic and vocational classes, each of the seven boys was eager to take and complete the course. 

Many thanks go to HBI Regional Program Manager at WYDC Angela Forward who provided the training. 

It was a long day of intensive studying and hands-on practice.  However, the young men can add this certification to their resumes as one of the many accomplishments each one has achieved while at WYDC, increasing the opportunities for their employment upon graduation. 

On the same day that these seven residents earned first aid certification, five other young men from WYDC completed a special employability program that began in December.  The Florida Endowment Foundation for Florida’s Graduates (The Foundation) offers programs designed to assist parents and educators in creating socially adept, academically capable, self-disciplined, and goal-oriented young people who are prepared to capitalize fully on their future.  Jobs for Florida’s Graduates (JFG) is one of the programs offered by The Foundation to meet these goals.  JFG is nationally accredited and is a school-to-career program designed to help young people graduate, thereby building the confidence to move onto gainful employment or post-secondary education.

Under the guidance of Treasure Hunter/ Regional Career Services Coordinator Bridgitte Forward, students were selected based upon many factors that included previous difficulties in schools.  Each boy who graduated JFG completed 120 contact hours:  60 hours of employability skills, 10 hours of community service, 15 hours of guidance counseling, 8 hours of field trips and presentations by guest speakers, 20 hours of academic remediation, and 7 hours of work-based learning.

The residents of the Daytona Juvenile Residential Facility, a high-risk program for males, ages 13 to 18, operated by G4S Youth Services, LLC, participated in a project of writing letters and cards to members of the United States military.  Each boy expressed his gratitude for the work that the troops do every day.  The residents thanked them for risking their lives to protect the freedoms each American citizen enjoys. 

Each of the boys in this 30-bed program participated.  The letters and cards were sent to A Million Thanks, Inc., which is a nonprofit organization that distributes letters and cards of appreciation to United States troops throughout the world. 

Shown left are two of the young men with their letters.