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January 24, 2001

Calvin to Host Criminal Justice Conference

A day-long conference at Calvin College in February will center on youth crime and will feature an evening address by Darrell Scott (left), father of two Columbine High School students.

Scott's son Craig survived the April 20, 1999 shootings at Columbine High. His daughter Rachel did not. Since her death Darrell Scott has traveled around the country with a message not of despair, but hope. On February 24 he will bring that message to Grand Rapids in a 6:45 p.m. talk in the Chapel that will be free and open to the public.

The talk will culminate a day-long conference being organized by Calvin's Criminal Justice Department.

From 9 a.m. until approximately 5 p.m. people from across the state will gather in the Gezon Auditorium to discuss such topics as preventing crime and deliquency in schools, innovations in policing juvenile deliquents, treatment and rehabilitation of young offenders and church and family responsibilities.

Panelists and presenters will represent such diverse organizations as:

  • the Grand Rapids Police Department and Kent County Sheriff Department
  • the Kent County, Ottawa County and Kalamazoo Court
  • Calvin College, Michigan State, Eastern Michigan and Grand Valley State
  • Rockford, Kentwood and Grand Rapids Public schools
  • Messiah Baptist Church
  • Baxter Community Center
  • YMCA Youth Development Program
  • Maxey Boys School
  • Wedgwood Youth Services

At 6:45 conference attendees and others will gather in the Chapel to hear Scott who, after his daughter's death, left his job as a sales manager to travel the country and speak to community groups at, said Time Magazine, "churches, stadiums and high school gyms from Dallas to Bismarck."

Added Time: "To them (Darrell Scott and his family) Rachels' death was a Christian martyrdom - an act of God meant to spark a spiritual revolution in young people."

After Rachel's death Darrell Scott testified in Washington, D.C. before the Subcommittee on Crime of the House Judiciary Committee. He said: "I am here today to declare that Columbine was not a tragedy - it was a spiritual event that should be forcing us to look at where the real blame lies." Later he said: "The young people of our nation hold the key. There is a spiritual awakening taking place that will not be squelched."

And he concluded: "My daughter's death will not be in vain. The young people of this country will not allow that to happen."

That message captivated Calvin criminal justice professors Scott Richeson and Robert Butler, who are organizing the upcoming conference.

"Our conference will, we hope," says Richeson, "focus not on what is going wrong with our criminal justice system for juveniles, but also will look at what is going right. Darrell Scott's message is one of hope in the face of significant tragedy. We think he will provide a most appropriate exclamation point to what should be a terrific conference."

Calvin has about 45-50 criminal justice majors at any given time and graduates 10-15 such majors per year.

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Contact Phil de Haan.