J. Blake Jr., acting Chief Probation Officer at Northampton
District Court Probation Department, recently joined forces
with New England Domestic Abuse Programs of Northampton
to form the Diversity/Sensitivity Program.
recognized an increase in hate crimes following the 2001
terrorist attacks in his court.
began seeing more people coming through the system for civil
rights violations and hate crimes in the past year in a
half. In fact, some of the probation officers came to me
and pointed this out as well,” Blake said. “This
is by no means an epidemic. But, it is a concern we wanted
to address. We now have a program
in place to heighten awareness in the area.”
who are ordered to attend the program must attend two meetings
a week for a three weeks. Issues such as prejudice, behavior,
and anger management are addressed. The program also explores
the role of drugs and alcohol use in hate crimes. Offenders
are required to pay a $125 initial fee for the program and
$35 for each session.
Diversity/Sensitivity Program is one of a number of programs
the probation department and New England Domestic Abuse
Programs operate collaboratively. The others include shoplifter
prevention, anger management and drug and alcohol education.
Massachusetts Probation Service is a department of the Massachusetts
Trial Court. There are 12 Superior Court, 70 District Court
and 12 Probate & Family Court probation offices 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 22 Community Corrections Centers throughout