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|July 16, 2012
Director of Communications
The Massachusetts Probation Service Observes National Probation,
Parole and Community Supervision Week 2012 By Highlighting
Community Partnerships And Enhanced Technology
The Massachusetts Probation Service, the nation's first, is joining Probation, Parole and Community Supervision agencies across the state, nation, and Canada in observing National Probation, Parole, and Community Supervision Week from July 16h through the 21st. The agency celebrates its historic role as the very first Probation agency in the nation, its current innovative programs as well as its plans for the future with the theme, “Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow.”
Under the leadership of Acting Probation Commissioner Ronald Corbett, Massachusetts Probation is using this milestone to celebrate its best practices initiatives, enhanced technology, as well as its partnerships with law enforcement and community agencies locally and nationally. There will also be a special focus on the role of Probate & Family Court Probation Officers who work with families to resolve matters involving child custody, divorce, separation and guardianship cases. Probate & Family Probation Officers have also taken on a new charge to get fathers more actively involved with their children's lives which national studies show leads to a reduction in family conflict and a decrease in recidivism or committing new crimes.
“The dedicated men and women of the Massachusetts Probation Service collaborate every day with a wide range of rehabilitative and public safety agencies statewide,” said Corbett. “The agency's long heritage of innovation continually inspires Probation staff to improve practices and identify new programs that assist local communities in addressing criminal justice and public safety issues in these challenging times.”
On any night of the week, Probation Officers can be found in the community checking on offenders in their homes enforcing court orders, and ultimately holding offenders accountable for their court-ordered conditions of Probation.
The agency also uses a newer technology called Crime Correlation which enables Probation personnel to determine if an offender on a GPS bracelet is at a crime scene or to eliminate that person as a suspect if he or she is not at the scene. Probation also uses Crime Correlation to confirm whether an indvidual monitored by a GPS bracelet is involved with the shooting either as the gunman or a witness. This information has been provided upon request to local, state and federal criminal justice agencies for investigative purposes.
There are a total of 2,054 offenders monitored by Electronic Bracelet statewide.
Probate and Family Court cases have been found to have a direct connection to each of the five court divisions in the Trial Court system. Over the past year, Probate and Family Court Probation Officers through the Dispute Intervention process have helped litigants reach a resolution in more than 60 percent of contested cases involving child custody, divorce, separation, and guardianship issues. Probate and Family Probation Officers performed 33,204 Dispute Interventions saving the courts and individuals significant hours of litigation.
Across the Commonwealth, there are 82,532 individuals under Probation supervision. They are supervised by 822 line Probation Officers in more than 100 courts across the state. A total of $15.4 million in court-ordered restitution was paid by offenders. This money was paid to the victims.
The Probation Service also includes the state's 21 Community Corrections Centers where offenders receive intensive supervision and can earn their GED's, participate in job training, and receive drug and alcohol counseling. This alternative to jail requires the offender to report regularly to the center, partcipate in drug testing, and perform community service.
In addition to resources provided by the courts, Probation Officers have created programs to promote responsibility and law-abiding behavior among individuals appearing before the court. Parenting Programs, such as the Fatherhood and Mothers Programs, which teach good parenting skills; and Changing Lives Through Literature, which relates life experience to literature and poetry. There are also the Drug Courts, Mental Health Courts, Gun Courts, a Veterans Courts, and the first ever Homeless Court which are only a few examples of initiatives designed, implemented, and or coordinated by Probation Officers in collaboration with the judiciary and community agencies.
Probationers, ordered to do community service in lieu of court costs, performed a total of 449, 133 hours over the past year. Offenders across the state work at food pantries where they have helped distribute several tons of food to struggling families. Probationers have played a pivotal role in the clean-up of the aftermath of a devastating tornado that hit western Massachusetts. Offenders have assisted in the construction, remodeling, and painting of non-profit organizations such as churches and synagogues, as well as senior citizen centers. Thos participating in community service efforts can frequently be seen along the highways and beaches of Massachusetts conducting litter and beautification projects as means of payback to their communities.
“From its early beginnings, the Massachusetts Probation Service has worked to set offenders on a law-abiding path by holding them accountable, improve public safety, and enhance the quality of life in communites across the Commonwealth,” said Acting Commissioner Corbett.