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Offensive ABC’s
By Joe Bouchard
Published: 06/15/2015

Abc The following is an installment in "The Bouchard 101", a series featuring "Ice Breaker's" designed to promote training awareness and capabilities in the corrections industry.

If you work long enough in corrections, you will develop an ability to read people with minimal clues. In fact, some of us can just look at an offender and guess their crime with an astonishing accuracy. Games like these sharpen observation skills and challenge our perceptions.

Here's a classroom exercise that is a review of the many offenses that we deal with regularly in our field. And it's a good segue exercise into a module on criminology. As criminal justice professionals, we are aware of the variety of offenses and the offending ABC's is way to review our knowledge.

To start, split the class into groups of four. Have each group appoint a team captain/spokesperson. Another in the group will serve as a recorder. For good measure and to inspire competition, each team will be given a few minutes to choose and then declare the team name.

Once the teams have settled, the facilitator states that the recorder can start immediately by writing the letters of the alphabet at the top left of the page and continuing down. The first line is A, the second line is B, and so forth. In other words, the recorder will write the alphabet down the left side of the page.

The team will then be given instructions to work together to list one official crime per letter. It's as simple as A is for arson, for example. The teams will be given 5 minutes. At the end of the 5 minutes each team captain comes to the front and announces the number of letters filled with a bona fide offense.

Here are some rules: No cheating. No espionage. No writing answers as they are read by other teams at the end of the exercise. Above all, no help from electronics or any law dictionary will be permitted.

The facilitator is the judge, jury and executioner and decides all. However the facilitator can be assisted by Internet or Black’s Law Dictionary. Also, offenses must be commonly known as crimes. Stretching it is forbidden. For example X equals the xylophone theft or Y equals yak napping or Z equals zoo breaking. These should not be accepted.

The recorder will go to the board and for each team select a color and write the offense for each letter as they are read by the team captain. In that way a red team will have all their offenses in red, the blue team will have all of their offenses in blue.

In the event of a tie, each team will in turn be given a letter to name a crime not already listed. Of course, the facilitator's discretion is important here. Please note that one should not expect XYQ or Z to be filled in this exercise.

Just as in any other competition-based classroom exercise, the facilitator may use incentives. He or she may offer a prize like candy, gag gifts or something of that nature to the winning team.

I now offer a cheat sheet for facilitators here's a quick list of answers for the offensive ABC’s. Of course, you'll see different answers with different crowds.

A. arson
B. battery
C. criminal sexual conduct
D. delinquency
E. extortion
F. forgery
G. gross indecency
H. homicide
I. insurance fraud
J. jaywalking
K. kidnapping
L. larceny
M. manslaughter
N. negligent homicide
O. obscenity
P. panhandling
Q. nothing comes to mind
R. robbery
S. safe cracking
T. tax evasion
U. uttering and publishing
V. vehicular homicide
W. weapons possession
X. no idea
Y. not a clue
Z. zoning ordinance violation.

On the face of it, Offensive ABC’s is a quick fill in the blank team oriented exercise based on criminal offenses. However prior to going into the criminal justice module, the facilitator can make good use of the time watching how the team members operate. After all, this is part of what we doing corrections – watch people.

Joe Bouchard is a Librarian employed with the Michigan Department of Corrections and a collaborator with The International Association of Correctional Training Personnel (IACTP). He is also the author of “IACTP’s Corrections Icebreakers: The Bouchard 101, 2014”. The installments in this series include his opinions. The agency for which he works is not in any way responsible for the content or accuracy of this material, and the views are those of the contributor and not necessarily those of the agency. While some material is influenced by other works, all of the icebreakers have been developed by Joe Bouchard.

Visit the Joe Bouchard page

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