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Miami's Wansley Walters to head Florida Department of Juvenile Justice

Incoming Gov. Rick Scott will select Wansley Walters, head of the Miami-Dade County Juvenile Services Department, to take over as secretary of Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, according to a member of Scott's transition team. The official announcement could be made as early as today.

Walters will succeed Frank Peterman of St. Petersburg, who was order by Gov. Charlie Crist's office to pay back $26,000 in what Crist's chief inspector general determined to be questionable or excessive travel between Tallahassee and his home in St. Petersburg. Peterman, a former Democratic state lawmaker, was one of several state agency heads who asked to stay on in the new administration.

From Walters' official bio:

Wansley Walters has been actively involved in child advocacy for over 25 years.  She is the Director of the Miami-Dade County Juvenile Services Department whose mission is to serve arrested juveniles, those at-risk of being arrested, and the families of these youth. Formerly known as the Juvenile Assessment Center (JAC), the facility has served over 130,000 juvenile arrests in Miami-Dade County since opening in 1997.

Ms. Walters developed and heads a National Demonstration Project with the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) and national researchers in the field of juvenile justice. Her Department also partners with the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and serves as a national juvenile justice model. This model was highlighted in May 2008 at the Juvenile Justice Summit hosted by the White House ONDCP and the U.S. Department of Justice OJJDP in Miami. She is a frequent presenter on juvenile justice at both national and international conferences.

In 2004, Ms. Walters was honored at the "In the Company of Women" ceremony and presented with the Mayor's Pioneer Award for her leadership and work in juvenile justice. She currently serves on the Miami-Dade County Juvenile Justice Board and the Miami-Dade Youth Crime Task Force.

She is a Member of the Florida Juvenile Justice Association and Chair of the Children's Mental Health Committee for the District 11 Florida Department of Children and Families.  Previously, she served as the Chairperson of the Dade Health and Human Services Board and Chairperson of the Dade-Monroe Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Planning Council for the State of Florida.

Before serving as JSD Director, Ms. Walters was a Senior Police Bureau Commander for the Miami-Dade Police Department, responsible for the Bureau which would later emerge as an independent County department, now known as the Miami-Dade County Juvenile Services Department.