More Information, Contact:
|January 12, 2004
Holland, Director of Communications
Program Graduates Tenth Class
The Mother's Program of the West
Roxbury Division of the Boston Municipal Court,
a 12-week parenting class for women offenders, graduated
its tenth class recently.
The graduation class included nine mothers
who are on probation for offenses that include larceny, assault
and battery and drug charges. They range in age from their
early 20's to their late 30's. The mothers received a certificate,
book titled "Dream the Boldest Dream" by Lonetta Cole, a
rose and enjoyed a cake following the ceremony. Among the
speakers at the graduation were Boston Municipal Court Chief
Justice Charles Johnson, Judges Kathleen E. Coffey, and Robert
C. Rufo. Judge Dennis Curran was in attendance as well as
West Roxbury District Chief Probation Officer Anthony Owens.
The founder of the program, West Roxbury District Assistant
Chief Probation Officer Helen Brown, congratulated the mothers.
Assistant Chief Brown said she witnessed mothers
in the program, who were homeless, find adequate housing
for themselves and their children. One mother regained full
custody of a child after a ten-year period. The child had
been adopted by her foster family. The program, according
to Brown, put the mother in touch with a social worker from
the Department of Social Services who informed her of her
rights. The mother, a recovering drug addict, did some research
and learned that she could have her child returned. Mother
and daughter will celebrate their first Christmas together
in years. Several mothers returned to school to complete
their education or received job training.
Linda Pisano, a spring 2003 Mothers Program
graduate, said the program helped shore up her self-esteem.
Pisano, the mother of a young child, landed a job in a doctor's
office and has volunteered to return to the program to speak
to participants about the lifeline the program became for
"I learned about resources that I didn't even
know existed. They treated us as equals and built us up.
They told us that we are role models for our children. I
try to practice everything they taught me," Pisano said.
Established in 1998, the Mothers Program has
enrolled more than 90 women. The mothers meet once a week
at the courthouse and attend lectures and interactive sessions
on issues that range from substance abuse to employment and
nutrition to education. Upon completion of the program, the
mothers participate in an aftercare program which assists
in their recovery and helps them stay on the right side of
the law. The program has an 85 percent
success rate. Only 14 of the 94 graduates
have been arrested after completing the program.
"The success of this program rests primarily
on the dedication of the probation staff: Chief Anthony Owens,
Assistant Chief Helen Brown and Probation Officer Crystal
Heck. They have created an environment where a mother's self-esteem,
worth and identity are constantly validated and affirmed.
The weekly sessions provide the women essential information
to help them raise their children but it is the support and
care provided by the staff that are the essential ingredients.
The Mother's Program is turning lives around, keeping the
women free of involvement with the justice system and most
importantly, giving them the life skills to raise children
in a healthy and stable home," said Judge Kathleen Coffey.
Owens said of the program, "As an extension
of good Probation Supervision, the Mothers Program works
well because week after week everyone is focused on three
very important things: children, choices, and change."
The speakers come from the Department of Social
Services; AID to Incarcerated Mothers; Big Sister/ Brother
Association; E-13 Domestic Abuse Unit; READ BOSTON; Massachusetts
Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (MSPCC);
Women, Infants, and Children (WIC); and the Elizabeth Stone
Owens and Brown attribute part of the success
of the program to the aftercare model the program uses. It
was funded by a $9,999 Boston Police Block Grant. Graduates
meet with a licensed social worker who tracks their lives
and ensures that their needs are met.
The Massachusetts Probation Service is a department
of the Massachusetts Trial Court. There are 14 Superior Court,
62 District Court, eight Boston Municipal, and 14 Probate
and Family Court probation departments throughout the Commonwealth.
Probation’s Juvenile Court system includes 11 divisions
which represent every county in the state. The Office of
the Commissioner of Probation (OCP) serves as the central
administrative office for the state Probation service and
the Office of Community Corrections which operates 21 Community
Corrections Centers throughout the state.