Public Information Office
Supreme Judicial Court
John Adams Courthouse
One Pemberton Square
Boston , MA 02108
|For Immediate Release:|
February 24, 2011
Supreme Judicial Court Issues Statement Outlining Action Steps on Probation
The Justices of the Supreme Judicial Court today issued a statement outlining the actions to be taken by the Trial Court regarding the hiring and promotion practices of the Massachusetts Probation Department. www.mass.gov/courts/sjc/docs/probation-directives-022411.pdf.
The Justices reviewed the comprehensive reports on the hiring and promotion practices of the Probation Department recently issued by the SJC's Task Force under Attorney Scott Harshbarger's leadership and by the Executive and Legislative Branches' Probation Reform Working Group. They noted the two groups agree in large part on measures that will "ensure a fair system with transparent procedures in which the qualifications of an applicant are the sole criterion in hiring and promotion" in the Probation Department, and the Justices "fully embrace and support these recommendations."
The Justices also agree with the two-phased approach the SJC Task Force proposed "in light of the urgency and need to address these concerns and the priority that must be given to the corrective actions required." They noted that `[a] properly functioning Probation Department plays a vital role in the day-to-day success of our court system."
After consulting with Chief Justice for Administration & Management Robert A. Mulligan and Acting Commissioner of Probation Dr. Ronald P. Corbett, Jr., the Justices stated that it is "necessary and appropriate" to take the following actions:
- Implement the seven national best practices involving hiring and promotion practices identified in the Task Force Report;
- Implement Phase 1 of the process recommended by the Task Force in order to begin rapid rebuilding of the Probation Department's human resources and recruiting infrastructures, including by filling critical management positions and securing the expertise of human resource professionals; and following a review of the Phase 1 implementation, implement Phase 2;
- Ensure that all positions are filled based on merit, and that recommendations from public officials and others are kept out of the hiring and promotional process until the finalists have been selected and references are being checked;
- Update and where necessary develop credible staffing models based on national probation standards to determine the number and type of employees necessary in each court location and area of responsibility; and
- Continue to develop and deploy an annual evaluation system for all probation operations and probation professionals, and implement data collection and monitoring systems necessary to such evaluations.
The Justices also asked the SJC Task Force to provide, on an interim basis, oversight of the Probation Department's progress in implementing these reforms and to provide periodic reports to the Supreme Judicial Court and to the public. The Justices noted "the significant progress that has been made in the last eight months toward the goal of reestablishing the Probation Department as a credible and reliable institution within our judicial system."