|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
||For More Information, Contact:
|July 12, 2007
||Coria Holland, Director of Communications
||617-727-5300, ext. 258
MASSACHUSETTS PROBATION SERVICE OBSERVES
NATIONAL PROBATION WEEK AS IT CELEBRATES
ITS HISTORICAL ROOTS
This Sunday, July 15 th, marks the beginning
of a national week-long observance of Probation Officers
and those who work in the Community Supervision field by
the American Probation and Parole Association (APPA) entitled, "Keys
to a Better Tomorrow."
The Massachusetts Probation Service celebrates
the distinction of being the birthplace of Probation, a
concept first introduced by Boston cobbler John Augustus
in 1841. Augustus, who is credited as the "Father of Probation," convinced
judges to release individuals who suffered with alcoholism
into his care in lieu of jail. Two years later in 1843,
according to the Lexington, Kentucky-based APPA, Augustus
began supervising children accused of stealing.
There are 245,987 adults and juveniles being
monitored each year by the Massachusetts Probation Service
within the five court departments: Boston Municipal Court
(BMC), District, Juvenile, Probate & Family, and Superior.
This figure is based on Fiscal Year 2006 statistics. Probation
also works with troubled children through the Children
In Need of Services (CHINS) initiative which serves youngsters
through age 16, and their families. These children are
deemed stubborn by the courts, truants, runaways, and school
Substance abuse, an issue which led to the
creation of Probation, is still a major problem among individuals
under probation supervision. Eighty-five percent of probationers
suffer with drug and/ or alcohol addiction, according to
statistics provided by the Research Department of the Massachusetts
"Probation has a number of programs and
initiatives to address this problem which continues to
plague offenders and their families," said Probation Commissioner
John J. O'Brien. "Our primary goal does not stray from
the original mission of probation and that is to provide
rehabilitation to offenders while also holding them accountable
for their actions."
Probation boasts of a number of Probation
Officer-established programs to help offenders remain sober.
One initiative is the Alcohol Awareness
Program, established and run by Brockton District
Court Probation Officer Audrey Banks, is targeted at
young adults charged with minor possession, minor transporting,
or minor procurement offenses.
"The purpose of the seminar is to focus on
the impact an individual's behavior may have on the lives
and safety of others," said Banks who is responsible for
leading more than 100 individuals through the program in
the past couple of years.
Banks' Alcohol Awareness Program requires
individuals to attend two Alcoholic Anonymous meetings,
attend a presentation by the Mothers Against Drunk Driving
(MADD), and to participate in exercises on the "use, misuse,
and abuse of alcohol" as well as explore one's life and
Examples of other substance abuse programs,
coordinated and or created by Probation Officers, include
the First Choice (First Offender Substance Abuse) Program
at Chicopee District Court; the Somerville District Court
Substance Abuse Program; the Support Substance Abuse Education
Program at Boston Municipal Court (BMC)– Charlestown
Division; the Brains at Risk and HEAT (Heroin Education
Awareness Task Force) programs at Woburn District Court;
the TIP (Total Immersion Program) at Quincy District Court;
the Men's and Women's Substance Abuse groups at BMC-West
Roxbury; Substance Abuse and Alcohol Crisis Invention programs
at BMC-South Boston Division; and SOAP (Structured Outpatient
Addictions Program) at Framingham District Court.
Probation offers a wide range of services
and programs that were built based on the model created
by Augustus nearly two centuries ago. One such program
is the Community Corrections Centers, an independent operation
run by the Office of Community Corrections. The 25 Community
Corrections Centers across the state serve as one-stop
facilities where offenders receive educational services,
substance abuse counseling and testing.
One thing that has not changed since Probation
was established 166 years ago is the use of manual labor
or community service as a sentencing option. Augustus gave
offenders under supervision structure by providing them
with jobs in his Boston factory.
Today, offenders sentenced to community
service through the Massachusetts Trial Court Community
Service Program have logged in close to 400,000 hours of
work over the past year. Projects have included roadside
clean up, sprucing up parks and ball fields, and transporting
food and stocking food pantries.
“While we are proud of our rich tradition
in Probation and of being the nation’s first, we
are equally as proud that we have stayed the course and
continue to maintain our agency’s original mission
of helping offenders address their issues and enforcing
the orders of the court,” said Commissioner O’Brien.