Alexander Cooper, Staff Writer
Jacksonville State University criminal justice professor Harald R. Duncan has recently published his second book chronicling his career in the field as a social worker and parole officer. Professor Duncan’s first book, “So You Want to Be: Memoirs of a Social Worker/Parole Officer in the Deep South,” was published in 2016. It is framed on the wall in his office, and it was published as a collection of his experiences primarily as a social worker dealing with child abuse cases.
“Most of the information in my books deals with child abuse and neglect,” Duncan said. “I’d say a fourth of it is probation and parole work.”
The second book, released on January 20 of this year, is entitled “They Did What? More Memories of a Social Worker in the Deep South.”
Professor Duncan worked in child welfare for 15 years before transitioning into parole work for another ten years.
Duncan mentions that working as a social worker dealing with child abuse cases was particularly difficult.
“The worst case I ever dealt,” he recalled, “was where a man was living with a lady and her two children. He didn’t like the boy because he would talk back to him, but the girl who was younger had a good relationship with the mother’s boyfriend. One day when the mother was at work the girl, for whatever reason went into the brother’s bedroom and laid on his bed. This man thought it was the boy laying there, and he ran a garden hose through the crack in the window unit over her face and poured battery acid down the hose.”
“Not too long after I switched to probation and parole,” Duncan said.
This case and many other experiences like it are cataloged in Duncan’s books.
“I saw everything,” he said. “You become callous, because if you didn’t, you would not survive the job.”
Duncan explains that reading a textbook about a particular field doesn’t really do justice to the actual experiences that a student will face when he or she is out doing a job.
“I’m a firm believer in doing internships while you are doing your studies so you can see exactly what is taking place,” said Duncan.
Duncan explains that the criminal justice department does place students in probation and parole internships in Anniston so that the students planning to go into the field can have an understanding of what a day on the job actually looks like. He also praises the department as a whole for being able to find jobs for the students who graduate with degrees in criminal justice.
“I have have helped at least a dozen students get jobs doing probation and parole,” Duncan said. “They confide in me, and I tell them just like it is. This is a super department to try and help students to try and get jobs. We have a lot of connections, and we are well known to try and help good students become employed when they leave here.”
“If I’m going to write another book I don’t know,” Duncan chuckled. “It takes a long time to write a book, and I will have to take a long break before I write another one…if I write another one.”
“The second book, to me, is much more interesting than the first one,” Duncan said. “It shows my personality.”
Duncan points to a framed picture of him with his family posing on the set of Family Feud. The Duncan family appeared on the game show in 2015.
“I can be a mess,” Duncan said. “Steve Harvey there said that was probably one of the craziest people he had on [the show], and I take that as a compliment coming from him.”
“It was on my bucket list,” he says about getting his book published. “It’s tough writing a book, and it’s tough reading a book if it isn’t interesting. Most people will not read [a book] if you cannot keep their attention, and I think I’ve been able to do that in my books.”
Duncan’s books can be ordered from Amazon: