I AM UAA: J.R. Dull

by Kathleen McCoy  |   

B.A. Justice '04
Hometown: New Stuyahok and Dillingham, AK
Fun Fact: Enjoys hunting, fishing and trapping

J.R. Dull has his dream job-working with kids in the Bristol Bay Region and helping them stay out of trouble, and if they don't, helping them get the services they need to get back on track.

J.R. is the supervising juvenile probation officer in Dillingham, Alaska, and is responsible for all the juvenile cases in the 32 villages in the Bristol Bay Region, an area of about 40,000 square miles. Born in Dillingham and raised in the village of New Stuyahok on the Nushagak River, J.R. moved back to Dillingham for high school, then on to Anchorage to pursue a major in justice at UAA.

I AM UAA J.R. DullIt was a juvenile justice course research paper that led him to his current career. He researched services available to youth in the juvenile justice system and visited McLaughlin Youth Center (MYC). He started volunteering at MYC, met many of the juvenile probation officers (JPOs) there, liked the kind of assistance they were providing kids and their families, and right after graduation applied for a job as a JPO with the Alaska Division of Juvenile Justice.

J.R.'s first assignment was as an aftercare probation officer in Bethel where he helped youth who were institutionalized get the services they needed on release and get back to their homes. Then one year later, he applied and was selected for the JPO vacancy in Dillingham. When his boss retired in October 2009, J.R. was promoted to the supervisory position in the office.

With an average workload of 35 cases, J.R. keeps in contact with kids on probation and their families by traveling to the villages and working with village public safety officers. At times he may travel as far as Perryville on the Alaska Peninsula. His staff includes another JPO and a social services associate. J.R. is especially glad to be assisting Native youth because he is Yup'ik himself. "I grew up in this area and I have seen the problems kids deal with," he says. "I understand the culture and the area, and I am happy to be able to work with these kids-to help them become productive adults and stay out of trouble. And if they do get into trouble, I can help them get the services they need."

A disproportionately high number of Native youth are held in juvenile detention or are receiving other juvenile justice services, and because of that, J.R. explains, "The department is looking right now at recruiting young Native people for positions in juvenile justice. We need to get young Alaska Natives involved as personnel in the system."

Besides going out to the villages, J.R.'s travel does include some trips to Anchorage to escort kids back to their homes, but he's always glad to get back to Dillingham. Office hours are Monday through Friday, and he alternates being on call 24/7 with the other JPO. But when he's not working, J.R. can be found hunting, fishing or trapping. "I'm usually in my boat or on my snowmachine. That's what I love about living out here-being outdoors and enjoying the wilderness."

J.R. is glad to see how the restorative justice model, a part of Native culture, is used in the juvenile justice system in Alaska. In restorative justice, the offender, the victim and the community come together to try to repair the damage and to restore wholeness, if possible, to all those involved. That kind of focus on helping kids and the community is what gives J.R. the greatest satisfaction.

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