DJJ News

December 2017 – DJJ's Bon Air Juvenile Correctional Center recently hosted the Residential Services Unit Employee Recognition Ceremony, where 66 employees ranging from five years of service to 45 years received certificates of appreciation and gifts for their dedicated service. Bon Air's employees perform a range of vital services, including food service, health and therapeutic care, maintenance, security, guidance and advocacy. Deputy Director for Residential Services Joyce Holmon provided keynote remarks. We are proud of our Residential Services Unit employees, who directly or indirectly are helping to change the lives of the youth in our care.

42-year service award

Bon Air management and DJJ's executive team members express their appreciation to Imogene Smith for her 45 years of service with DJJ. From left: Bon Air Juvenile Correctional Center (JCC) Superintendent Russell Jennings; Bon Air Residential Program Manager Maurice Sessoms; Deputy Director of Administration and Finance Daryl Francis; Imogene Smith; Deputy Director of Residential Services Joyce Holmon; Deputy Director of Education Dr. Lisa Floyd; Chief Deputy Director Angela Valentine; Director Andy Block.

Group shot
Bon Air JCC Employees Recognized For Service

Cheering on their fellow Bon Air employees during the Employee Recognition Ceremony were Operations Manager Lakara Johnson, left, Security Coordinator Nicole Bailey.

Holmon Speaking

Deputy Director of Residential Services Joyce Holmon gave the keynote address.

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November 30, 2017 – As it is for most teenagers, meal time is one of the most highly anticipated events in their day. And now, for those who are residents at the Bon Air Juvenile Correctional Center, it also is one of the healthiest.

In a concentrated effort to increase the availability of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free and low-fat milk and reduce the levels of sodium, saturated fat and trans fat, traditional heat-and-serve offerings have now been completely replaced with meals created from scratch by DJJ food technicians from fresh, nutrient-rich ingredients.

“We want to give our residents the best,” says Food Operations Manager Barbara Hall. “We are proud of the food we serve because we know the impact healthy eating has on them. By introducing our residents to healthy foods, our goal is to influence them to continue to make healthy choices in their adult lives.”

Judging from the reaction of hungry residents recently digging into salads that included beans, fresh tomatoes, rice, lettuce and cheese, the customer approval rating is high. Much of the success is due to the fact that they helped decide what the new menus should offer, says Teneka Wortham, DJJ’s assistant director of Food Operations.

“We surveyed the residents to find out the things they wanted most, and what they least wanted,” Wortham says. “They also helped decide what should be in a recipe. For meat loaf, some said they liked it, some said they didn’t. So we switched from oatmeal to whole grain bread.” Residents also were surprised to find out they liked such high-fiber offerings as roasted cauliflower and zucchini with parmesan cheese.

Wortham says a high priority is also placed on tapping into food preparers’ creativity. “We have a very skilled, talented group of chefs,” she says. “We encourage them to be creative with recipes, and we want their feedback. They have been very forthcoming about what works and what doesn’t.”

“Our efforts have shown that made-from-scratch meals provide better quality nutrition that is beneficial to our residents’ development,” Hall says. “The positive comments from the residents and our executive staff, who recently sampled some of our newest menu items, tell us that we can be proud to serve any of our meals to anyone who might visit our dining facility.”

Food Service Staff with food display
Burnett -- Eggs
Burnett -- Milk
Burnett -- Pouring batter on bread
Burnett -- Refrigerator
Breakfast burritos
Squash Onions

November 30, 2017 – Court Service Unit 4–Norfolk Parole Supervisor Mark Wood and Diagnostic Senior Probation Officer Jeffrey Kess recently took four youth to Washington, D.C., to visit the White House and tour the Smithsonian’s Museum of African American History and Culture. Working with CSU 4 staff members Monique Selden, Tonya Shell and Deyonta Johnson, Wood and Kess created a skill-building opportunity consisting of an interview process and an essay contest, both of which were designed to help youth learn how to write clearly, polish interview skills, ask for assistance, and to present themselves in a positive way. Fifteen youth under CSU supervision participated, with four being chosen for the trip. To raise travel funds, CSU staff arranged a series of “dress down Fridays” in which fellow staff members made contributions for the privilege of “dressing down.” The fundraiser was so successful that remaining funds were used to provide a luncheon for the candidates not chosen for the trip to recognize their contributions.

CSU 4 -- Residents at White House
CSU 4 -- Resident at Heritage Museum
CSU 4--Team Photo

Front row, from left: Diagnostic Senior Probation Officer Jeff Kess, Probation Officers Tonya Shell and Monique Selden. Back row, from left: Probation Officer Deyonta Johnson, Parole Supervisor Mark Wood.

November 30, 2017 – CSU 12–Chesterfield Senior Intake Officer Michele Banalett was recently reviewing police reports when she came across one report that seemed a little odd. Three young boys from the same family had all been charged with the same serious offense against a neighbor. After meeting with the family, Intake Officer Ron Burroughs discovered that the family had no food, which is what the boys were after. Burroughs worked with the victim to divert the charges, and each boy received an age-appropriate consequence. After getting the family hooked into social services for immediate assistance, they organized a food and household items drive. The CSU staff brought in dozens of items, with Chesterfield Sheriff’s deputies pitching in as well. Staff who delivered the items reported that “the appreciation was evident by the tears in the mother’s eyes.”

CSU 12 -- Helping A Family

Senior Intake Officer Michele Banalett and Intake Officer Ron Burroughs.

October 24, 2017 – A quilt with a design that appears to create a three-dimensional illusion, created and sewn by the quilting students of DJJ instructor Roy Mitchell, took the “Viewers Choice Award” at the recent Richmond Quilters Guild show held at the Richmond Speedway, topping 354 other quilts entered in the show. Mitchell’s students, all residents at Bon Air Juvenile Correctional Center, exhibited several quilts at the show, where certified judges could evaluate their quilts along with other entries on an equal basis. The judges looked at use of color, design/pattern in quilt top, innovation/creativity, and piecing. The judges noted "excellent use of color and fabric, use of design/pattern in quilt top, innovation/creativity, pieced and applique technique" on two of the quilts they submitted. The residents also had the opportunity to try out some high-end quilting machines that were on display. Event Assistant Director Bobbie Stein congratulated the two residents who accompanied Mr. Mitchell to the event.

Residents Stein and Mitchell
Eclipse 2
Eclipse 2

August 21, 2017 – Bon Air Juvenile Correctional Center Psychologist Sasha Baier provided some residents a rare opportunity on the occasion of Monday's solar eclipse to view it and talk about it as it was happening. Baier went online with the residents to look for methods for viewing the eclipse. They decided to make a solar eclipse viewing box, an idea that Galileo originated when he was proving that the sun rotated by observing the motion of sunspots by images projected onto paper through a pinhole. Baier and the residents created a pinhole projector and took it outside where the image of the eclipse was projected onto a sheet of white paper inside the box. They were also able to compare the image from the box with an image that was being shown online in Richmond. Residents were thrilled to be a part of what for some could be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and for a moment to view the world in a different way.

Eclipse 1
Eclipse 2

August 18, 2017 – Family and friends gathered Aug. 18 at the Virginia Public Safety Training Center (VPSTC) to congratulate the newest class of 22 Resident Specialist Is, who received their certificates of completion after an intensive eight-week course. Keynote speaker Phillip Lynch, a residential counselor at Bon Air Juvenile Correctional Center, and DJJ Director Andy Block provided some inspiring words for the graduates.

Class photo
Andy Block speaking
Keynote speaker
Graduate waving
Block congratulates graduate
Bridge welcomes graduates

July 21, 2017 – For the fourth consecutive year, DJJ’s Education Unit partnered with VCU Athletics to bring a rigorous basketball camp to residents at Bon Air Juvenile Correctional Center. Education staff collaborated with Bon Air community managers and coordinators to offer the three-hour camp to those in each unit who wanted to attend and had exhibited the highest levels of positive behavior. Students not only improved their court skills, but most importantly, engaged with the outstanding VCU coach mentors Brandon Rozzell and Lamonte Theus. Rozzell is a former VCU Ram basketball standout and 2011 VCU Department of Social Work graduate. Theus is assistant basketball coach at Lee Davis High School in Hanover County. The students participated in warmup exercises, practiced specific skills with drill work, and ended each session with a short game. The VCU mentors emphasized cooperation and sportsmanship in all they did. They spent time talking with the students, encouraging them in their on and off the court endeavors. The collaborative, departmental efforts made this a most successful event for our residents.

Former VCU player Brandon Rozzell works with residents on ball handling skills.

Former VCU player Brandon Rozzell works with residents on ball handling skills.

Lamonte Theus attempts a dunk during warmup exercises.

Lamonte Theus attempts a dunk during warmup exercises.

January 25, 2017 – DJJ Director Andy Block recently was a guest on Reston Comcast Channel 28’s “Virginia Report” television program hosted by Del. Ken Plum of Virginia’s 36th District. Director Block appeared along with Dan Edwards, president of Evidence Based Associates (EBA), to talk with Del. Plum about the continuum of services DJJ is building for youth throughout the Commonwealth. EBA is one of two service coordination agencies that are helping DJJ ensure that youths get the services they need, regardless of where they might live.