North Carolina Department of Correction News - July 1999

NC Probation and Parole Association conference
offers something for everyone

WINSTON-SALEM — Whether it was competing in the Director’s Invitational golf tournament, dancing to the music of The Janitors, learning what makes today’s youth so violent, or simply networking with other professionals in the field, the fifth annual conference of the North Carolina Probation/Parole Association had something for everyone this year.

"It is the goal of NCPPA to provide a forum to share ideas, conduct in-service training events and to provide a network of professionals to enhance the quality of offender supervision," NCPPA President Robert Little said in his welcoming remarks to those attending the conference. "We work to provide and improve services to the community while maintaining our officers’ safety and welfare. We hope this conference will aid in obtaining these goals."

Held at the Adam’s Mark Winston Plaza in downtown Winston-Salem June 9-11, more than 500 people attended this year’s conference. The conference began Wednesday with a little friendly competition between probation and parole professionals from across the state as conference-goers tested their skills on the golf course, firing range and volleyball court.

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Donald Hamilton, John Anderson, Brad Biesecker and Doug Austin from Judicial Division III in Davidson County were the winners of the Second Annual Director’s Invitation golf tournament held at the Tanglewood Championship Course in Clemmons while Dallas McMillan, Ralph McKinney, Stewart Coates, Joseph Byrne and Dennis Smith from Judicial Division IV managed to outshoot the competition at the Second Annual Pistol Match held at the High Point Police Department firing range. Not to be outdone, Jody Blackwell, Rick Lappin, Stephanie Brown, Jim Lynch and Robbie Carter from Judicial Division II in Person and Caswell counties took first place honors in the volleyball tournament.

While Wednesday was a day for fun and games, Thursday took on a more serious note as conference-goers attended workshops covering a wide range of diverse topics including stress management, drug testing, community policing and understanding youthful offenders.

Those attending the popular "Sex, Drugs & Rock-n-Roll" workshop got an eye-opening look into the world of today’s youth in an effort to help probation officers understand where youthful offenders are coming from and what makes them so violent.

To make the session as realistic as possible, the presenters passed out new nametags for the attendees. Karen, Doug, and Steve soon became punk, redneck and skeezer. They were the lucky ones, because the names the other attendees received were much more graphic. Throughout the workshop, the attendees were required to address each other by their new names, and while everyone’s new names caused much giggling and laughter, it soon became obvious how much harm youth can do to one another by using such names.

"Calling people out of their name causes violent behavior," presenter Terry Twyman-Boozer said. "It dehumanizes the person. It is much easier to go up and hit ‘Punk’ than it is to hit Karen."

After receiving their new names, the attendees were bombarded with the violent images that are commonplace for today’s youth – violent movies and video games, songs about killing and rape and toy guns that look like the real thing.

"Children really don’t know why they are so angry and violent, but when you take a look at all the negative images they are fed each day – we are essentially telling them that violence is normal," presenter Frances Newton Washington said.

Conference-goers were offered some solutions for ways to help put a stop to the violent behavior often exhibited by today’s youth during a "Lunch and Learn" session presented by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, internationally recognized scholar, author, soldier and speaker. Grossman is considered one of the world’s foremost experts in the field of human aggression and the roots of violence and violent crime.

During his presentation, Grossman suggested that it is going to take education, legislation and litigation to put an end to such violent behavior, much of which he attributes to the media and violent video games which are essentially mass murder simulators teaching today’s youth how to kill.

"If you drill children to kill everyone in front of them like they are doing in these video games, and then you stick a gun in their hand, there’s a good possibility that they are going to kill," he said. "Video games provide the skill and the will to kill. They condition children to kill reflexively and automatically. But we do have the resource of litigation to put a stop to this by holding the creators and distributors of these games responsible."

After a day of such intense discussion, conference-goers were able to relax and network as they danced throught the evening to the music of The Janitors. The conference ended Friday with an awards breakfast and presentation by Edward Sulzbach, a former FBI agent who worked as a profiler assisting local and state law enforcement agencies in tracking serial killers, rapists and child molesters.

Following his presentation, the President’s Award was presented to Rose Cox, chief probation and parole officer in Rowan County for her outstanding contributions of time, energy and effort to achieve the goals of NCPPA.

A Special Recognition Award was presented to Barbara Carrigan of Alexander County, and the Regional Awards were presented to Susan Walker, Division I; Jaki Edwards, Division II; Kristie Purvis, Division III; and James Fisher-Davis, Division IV.

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