Ju­ve­nile pro­ba­tion of­fi­cer hon­ored

The Phoenix - - FRONT PAGE - By Michael P. Rel­la­han mrel­la­han@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com

WEST CH­ESTER >> In ac­cept­ing the award for Ch­ester County Ju­ve­nile Pro­ba­tion Of­fi­cer of the Year on Oct. 3, Greg Rice quoted lu­mi­nar­ies such as civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Har­vard pro­fes­sor Cor­nel West. But he paid trib­ute to men and women just as im­por­tant to him as those icons.

Rice named his col­league, Shane McLaugh­lin, who in­tro­duced him and pre­ceded him as the award re­cip­i­ent, as some­one he re­lied upon al­most daily for pro­fes­sional guid­ance. He cited his in­tern­ship su­per­vi­sor, Ja­maya Vega, and his work­day su­per­vi­sor, Brandy Sprig­gle, as in­spi­ra­tions in pro­fes­sion­al­ism.

He also pointed to his col­leagues Mary Bolla and Kristina Sladek, who were also nom­i­nated for the award, as peo­ple he was priv­i­leged to work with. And fi­nally his par­ents, Dud­ley Rice and Gretchen Rice, as role mod­els to seek truth and speak it.

“The bot­tom line is that this award, as is the case with most awards, is not about the per­son re­ceiv­ing it,” said Rice, a West Ch­ester Univer­sity grad­u­ate who has worked in the ju­ve­nile pro­ba­tion of­fice since 2014. “Rather, it is a re­flec­tion of the re­lent­less sup­port, kind­ness, and hard work that has sur­rounded that per­son.”

Ad­dress­ing those who had gath­ered in Court­room One of the county Jus­tice Cen­ter to cel­e­brate next week’s Ju­ve­nile Jus­tice Week, Rice gave sim­ple ad­vice. “I im­plore all of you to take the time to re­flect on what is im­por­tant in life, keep an open mind and heart to­wards oth­ers, ask a lot of ques­tions, and never shy away fro the fear you will in­evitably ex­pe­ri­ence when you con­tin­u­ously strive to do what is right.”

Ac­cord­ing to the de­part­ment, the mission of the state’s ju­ve­nile jus­tice sys­tem — “bal­anced and restora­tive jus­tice” — fo­cuses at­ten­tion not only on ju­ve­nile of­fend­ers, but also their vic­tims and the com­mu­nity by pro­vid­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for ju­ve­niles to de­velop valu­able skills, re­store their vic­tims and keep the com­mu­nity safe.

In his open­ing com­ments, Chief Ju­ve­nile Pro­ba­tion Of­fi­cer Don Corry told those as­sem­bled, in­clud­ing Pres­i­dent Judge Jac­que­line Car­roll Cody and Ju­ve­nile Court Su­per­vis­ing Judge John Hall, that the county had been work­ing to change the fo­cus of the pro­ba­tion of­fi­cers’ work. In­stead of be­ing sim­ple “com­pli­ance mon­i­tors” who make sure the of­fend­ers do what they’re told and do not re-of­fend, the of­fice has be­gun es­tab­lish­ing the pro­ba­tion of­fi­cers as role mod­els and “change agents.”

The goal, Corry said, was to help ju­ve­nile of­fend­ers es­tab­lish new life pat­terns and keep them out of “out of home” place­ments in ju­ve­nile fa­cil­i­ties. The ap­proach is new, and some­times dif­fi­cult to han­dle.

“It is a chal­leng­ing job that th­ese peo­ple do,” he said of his staff. “But we are hop­ing that it works for all par­ties.”

Also hon­ored at the cer­e­mony was a 19-year-old Ox­ford woman who had been se­lected as the Ju­ve­nile Court’s “Good Choices” award win­ner for some­one who had pro­gressed suc­cess­fully through the sys­tem. The woman, who asked to re­main anony­mous, came to the pro­ba­tion of­fice af­ter com­mit­ting an of­fense af­ter she grad­u­ated, with honors, from Coatesville Area Se­nior High.

She ded­i­cated her­self to re­gain­ing a foothold from the day she came for an in­take in­ter­view, said her former su­per­vi­sor, Pro­ba­tion Of­fi­cer Joseph Franken­stein. “It was ev­i­dent that she had the ca­pa­bil­ity to be suc­cess­ful,” he said. “She told me, ‘Maybe this is what I need to get back on track.’”

The woman now works at an area hospi­tal and is pre­par­ing to en­ter school to gain cer­ti­fi­ca­tion as a li­censed prac­ti­cal nurse, he said.

Ad­di­tion­ally, Terri Gree­ley, the de­part­ment’s fis­cal co­or­di­na­tor, was ac­knowl­edged for be­ing named the 2018 Ju­ve­nile Court Judges’ Com­mis­sion Sup­port Per­son of the Year. She will be pre­sented with this honor on Nov. 8, cer­e­monies in Har­ris­burg.

MICHAEL P. REL­LA­HAN - DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Greg Rice, the Ch­ester County Ju­ve­nile Pro­ba­tion Of­fi­cer of the Year, cen­ter, speaks with his par­ents, Dud­ley Rice and Gretchen Rice, of Bucks County, be­fore Wed­nes­day’s cel­e­bra­tion of Ju­ve­nile Jus­tice Week.

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