Release - August 16, 2002
Office of the Commissioner of Probation
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16 , 2002
Holland, Director of Communications
CHIEF P.O. REFLECTS ON
50-YEAR CAREER WORKING WITH CHILDREN
Joe OReilly first began working for the Massachusetts Probation
Service as a Juvenile Probation Officer close to 50 years ago, the
most common offenses committed by the youngsters he monitored included
hopping on street cars without paying a fare, gambling, playing
ball in the street and shining shoes or selling papers without a
would suggest that if any of these charges were brought before the
court today, they would be thrown out, said OReilly
with a wry smile.
the world has certainly changed, OReillys dedication
to young people and the Massachusetts Probation Service have not.
Despite his recent retirement, OReilly is as busy as he was
when he ran the very hectic Suffolk Juvenile Court Probation Department.
Suffolk has the distinction of having been the first juvenile court
in the nation.
recently took on a new assignment in his retirement. He represented
the Commissioner of Probation John J. OBrien on the Massachusetts
Trial Courts Budget Committee.
are looking at ways to save jobs, said OReilly, who
is one of 11 committee members.
a Probation Officer, Assistant Chief, First Assistant Chief Probation
Officer and Chief Probation Officer, OReilly has worked with
hundreds of Boston-area juveniles and their families. He often runs
into men and women who wound up in his office as children. Many
have taken the lessons they have learned from him and used them
well in their adult lives. He counts firefighters, police, and businessmen
among his former charges.
who officially retired in May, has seen a lot of changes in the
juvenile court over the years.
has grown leaps and bounds. There are associate Probation Officers
who are available to do the administrative work and free up Probation
Officers to go out into the neighborhoods. There is ELMO (the Electronic
Monitoring Program), OReilly said.
started as a Probation Officer in November of 1954. At the time,
he was a Parole Officer for the Department of Youth Services. He
worked as an Assistant Chief and First Assistant Chief Probation
Officer before being named Chief Probation Officer in 1985.
enjoy working with children. They are malleable and you can make
a difference in their lives. You see the results. And, young people
appreciate it when they deal with someone whom they can trust,
added, The bottom line for most children is reading. If a
child can read, they have a good sense about themselves. It is easier
to work with them and get good results. If they cant read,
it presents a problem. Children learn to read in grades one through
three and read to learn in grades four through 12. School is an
absolute vital part of the equation.
children, who wind up in the court system, are easy to spot, he
said. It starts in first, second and third grade. These are
the children who come to school dirty, disheveled, half asleep and
acting out. If we do not address these problems now, we will have
have bigger challenges now, OReilly said. There are
parents who are trying very hard. But, they cant be at two
places at once. They have to work, pay the rent. Everyone wants
their kids to go to Harvard.
said working in the Juvenile Court is the most challenging. He advises
those who are considering a career that involves working with children
to work extra hard and to stay abreast of information about young
a parent brings a child to court, they know that this is not a tourist
stop. Probation provides a service. And the service of the Juvenile
Court is to help children and families improve their lives and prepare
for the future, he said.