For Immediate Release - October 30, 2013

Worcester Trial Court Complex to be Site of Recidivism Reduction Project

BOSTON, MA -- The Trial Court of Massachusetts today announced that the Worcester Trial Court Complex will be the site of a high-intensity pilot program designed to reduce recidivism among probationers at high risk to re-offend.

Based on a successful national model first started in Hawaii, (the Honest Opportunity Probation with Enforcement, known as HOPE) the pilot program in Worcester will be the first state-funded program of its kind in Massachusetts, and will operate for two years.  This program will replicate the federally funded project known as Massachusetts Offender Recidivism Reduction or MORR, a demonstration project that has been in operation at the Ruane Judicial Center in Salem since 2012.  Massachusetts is one of four such sites across the United States participating in a rigorous evaluation of the HOPE model.

Like the project in Salem, both the District and Superior Courts will participate in the program in Worcester.  "This is an important development and opportunity for the Commonwealth, and the Trial Court is dedicated to bringing this innovative program to Worcester," said Chief Justice Barbara J. Rouse.  "We believe that the professionalism and commitment of the judges, probation officers and bar in Worcester will make this program as successful as the one in Salem."

Eligible high-risk probationers in the District and Superior courts are randomly assigned to the HOPE/MORR program.  The probationers go before a judge who conducts a warning hearing day during which she explains the principles of the program, which entail swift, certain and measured sanctions for probation violations. These sanctions include short periods of incarceration.  Judges, probation officers, clerks, district attorneys, defense attorneys, sheriffs and police chiefs all work collaboratively on the program and are integral to its success.  In Hawaii, the HOPE program reduced recidivism by 50 percent.

Probation Commissioner Edward J. Dolan said: "This will allow eligible participants to take advantage of this tested and growing program. This program has been shown to be effective in reducing recidivism, and is a critical need in the state."

Superior Court Chief Justice Barbara J. Rouse, District Court Chief Justice Paul C. Dawley and Probation Commissioner Edward J. Dolan will convene a Steering Committee composed of all stakeholders to guide the Worcester implementation of the program.