Boston Municipal Court (BMC) judges converged
on the John Adams Courthouse recently to attend a special
training for judges on the Office of Community Corrections
and its role in the Trial Court.
The day-long event, titled “The Ins
and Outs of Community Corrections,” was a collaborative
effort of the Honorable Charles R. Johnson, Boston Municipal
Court Chief Justice; John J. O’Brien, Commissioner
of Probation; and Steven V. Price, Executive Director
of the Office of Community Corrections. Judge Patricia
Bernstein of the Boston Municipal Court chaired the committee
which planned the event and also served as facilitator.
Chief Justice Johnson welcomed the attendees
and the opportunity for judges to receive in-depth information
on community corrections as a valuable sentencing option.
Commissioner O’Brien described the Community Corrections
Centers, which features 22 centers statewide, as “an
alternative to incarceration.” Executive Director
Price spoke of the structure the centers provide as well
as the programming offered. “Structured programming
makes it a lot easier for offenders to be accountable,” Price
said. “The centers are also a safe place for offenders.”
The training gave judges the opportunity
to explore community corrections as a sentencing option.
Judges learned about the operation of the 22 Community
Corrections Centers located throughout the state and
who is eligible to be sentenced to a community corrections
center. A discussion concerning the difference between
administrative probation, standard probation supervision
and the use of Community Correction Centers as an alternative
to incarceration were highlighted by Second Deputy Commissioner
Level I is Administrative Probation; Level
II is Standard Probation Supervision; Level III is for
offenders who have a serious criminal history or are
chronic substance abusers; and Level IV is for offenders
who have “strong potential for eventual incarceration
or who have been incarcerated and are returning to the
During the training, judges were encouraged
to utilize the Trial Court Community Service Program,
Electronic Monitoring and random drug testing as a condition
Judges learned that alcohol and drug treatment
services, GED preparation, AIDS prevention education,
job readiness and referrals for additional services are
Community service work may also be part
of the equation, the judges were informed. The community
service component is managed by the Massachusetts Trial
Court Community Service Program through which more than
28,000 hours of community service work is performed by
offenders each month. Community service work is performed
at no cost to municipalities and social service agencies.
Community service projects range from park and highway
clean-up to painting and light construction to loading
and unloading thousands of pounds of food and canned
goods at food pantries to landscaping and snow shoveling
at places such as the Massachusetts Horticultural Society
and the Franklin Park Zoo.
In a panel discussion, Probation Officers
also gave their perspectives about the community corrections
centers and the resources it provides for offenders.
The discussion addressed the collaboration between judges
imposing intermediate sanctions Level III or IV, the
supervising probation officer’s role in enforcing
the sanction and the Probation Officer in Charge’s
role in informing the supervising probation office of
infractions and or compliance by the offender.
The training generated many discussions
about how judges can best use the Office of Community
Corrections and its services.
photos from the "The Ins and Outs of Community