Harry Brock: 'I knew this was my last chance'

When Harry (Turk) Brock was picked up for drunken driving in Dalton County, Ga., he expected and got a five-year prison sentence. (He had been a ''habitual offender'' for more than 20 years and was already on probation for passing 11 bad checks and driving while intoxicated.)

What he didn't expect was that Judge Charles Pannell Jr., a former district attorney, would place him in Intensive Probation Supervision (IPS).

Nine months later and a success for the first time ''since I can remember,'' Harry Brock was transferred to general probation. ''My rap sheet is so long it wouldn't fit in this office,'' he says. Nothing in his record indicated he could either get and hold a job; pay restitution for his bad checks plus the court fine; do 132 hours - three full weeks - of community service; or keep a 7 p.m. curfew.

''Before (IPS), I wore them bars out,'' Mr. Brock admits. ''But now judges all over this state can say, 'If Harry Brock made it, the program works.'

''I knew this (IPS) was my last chance to keep from being an old man behind bars,'' Brock says. ''I had a tremendous drinking problem. The talking and the respect from these men helped me overcome it. Men in their 30s and 40s who've done some time, who really want another chance, this is a program for them. Get them out. You can always lock 'em back up.''

''Our IPS caseload is only 25, otherwise Brock would never have been sentenced to probation,'' says probation officer Roger Pressley. ''If we had the usual 150 cases, there's no way we could supervise him and guarantee the public he wouldn't commit another crime.''

In the first two weeks Officer Pressley and another probation officer, William Bearden, visited Brock 12 times. ''He had to know two things. First, he'd be sent to prison right away if he broke the rules. Second, we wanted him to make it and would view it as our failure, too, if he didn't,'' Pressley says.

''I missed curfew - once,'' Brock says. Getting back from the movies with his girlfriend, he was surprised to find Pressley on his doorstep. ''They told me I had had my one mistake, no more exceptions.''

Pressley and Mr. Bearden turned Brock's softball playing into community-service work at a recreation center. It became a full-time paying job. Now, the former prison inmate also dons a blue uniform and calls balls and strikes for the North Georgia Softball Association.

Asked how he responds when he makes a close call and someone challenges his decision, Harry Brock just says, ''They know I only call 'em once.'' Then, after a pause, he adds, ''Baseball isn't probation.''

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