Joseph Leavy closed Lancaster in June of 1973, thereby completing the Department's deinstitutionalization phase. He also created the Commonwealth's first secure treatment units. Leavy then worked to fill the void in community services by expanding the network of private providers to replace the state-run institutions. Eventually there was a growing network of private organizations competing for DYS contracts. The practice of contracting for programs became the foundation of the Department's community-partnership system utilized to this day.

Outside the agency, the political climate had shifted from an emphasis on reform to a need for security. The Department was again the subject of severe public criticism, from judges, law enforcement officials and the media.

Commissioner Leavy left the Department in January of 1976 and became the President of Communities for People. That year, Governor Michael Dukakis appointed John Calhoun as the DYS Commissioner. At the time, there were 15 bills pending in the Legislature to abolish DYS, most filed in response to the lack of security within the community-partnership system. Calhoun immediately established a task force, chaired by then Assistant Attorney General Scott Harshbarger, to address security concerns and determine the number of secure beds needed. The task force submitted its final report in 1977, with a strong recommendation that the Department significantly expand secure capacity.

Calhoun also established an administrative unit to monitor private provider agencies under contract with DYS and he created the training, legal and planning units within the Central DYS office. Calhoun left the Department in July of 1979 to become the Director of the National Crime Prevention Council.

Governor Edward King then appointed Edward M. ("Ned") Murphy as Commissioner in October of 1979. Murphy implemented a classification policy that established clear guidelines for placing serious offenders in locked programs. Murphy also secured capital funds to develop new secure facilities, which marked the first significant capital expenditure by DYS in 15 years. He established a Management Information System (MIS) to track clients and provide demographic and court histories of each DYS youth. Under Murphy, the seven regional offices were reduced to five, allowing more staff to work in direct care positions with DYS youths.

Having restored confidence in the system, Murphy accepted Governor Dukakis' appointment as Commissioner of the Department of Mental Health in 1985. Murphy's replacement was his deputy at DYS, Edward J. ("Ned") Loughran.

Under Loughran, the Department expanded the number of group homes, developed more outreach & tracking programs, and established the state's first juvenile "day treatment" program. Loughran also expanded education services, substance abuse intervention services and specialized treatment for juvenile sex offenders. In 1989, the National Council Crime and Delinquency (NCCD) recognized Massachusetts as a national model for pioneering a range of treatment services offered for juvenile offenders.

Throughout the mid 1990's, the Department experienced rapid growth in the numbers of juveniles committed to its custody. At the same time the agency budget was significantly cut. Employee positions were eliminated, the training unit was abolished and reductions were made in the number of treatment beds, foster care beds, day treatment slots and court diversion programs.

In July 1993, Loughran resigned to accept a position as Director of the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial. Later that summer, four DYS youths were murdered in the community. These widely publicized murders highlighted the increasing admissions to DYS of an increasingly violent population. The Department's ability to provide for the safety of the public, and the safety of the youth in its custody, had been seriously compromised.

In September 1993, Governor William F. Weld appointed William D. O'Leary as the sixth DYS Commissioner. O'Leary had served as an Assistant Commissioner for the Department of Mental Health.

This information is provided by the Department of Youth Services.