In his first month as Commissioner, O'Leary convened a blue ribbon panel of judges, law enforcement officials and human service agency administrators/providers to study DYS's needs. Chaired by Judge William T. Hogan, Jr., the committee released its findings in January of 1994.

The Hogan Commission concluded that the Department needed to reaffirm public safety and crime prevention as primary goals. It embraced the continuum of services, but found that the continuum should be retooled to reflect the risk presented by a more violent juvenile population.

The Commission further concluded that Massachusetts, like the rest of the country, had begun to experience dramatic increases in violent crime and in the number of youth committed to DYS. The Commission's report then issued 18 recommendations for change including: population and classification review; expansion of facility and residential capacity; the separation of juveniles facing adult sentences; enhancement of community monitoring and crime prevention; improved communication with other agencies and organizations; and both physical plant/technological infrastructure development.

Consistent with Hogan recommendations regarding public safety and the need to alleviate overcrowding, DYS added approximately 400 beds from 1994 to 1997. On February 8, 1996, Governor Weld signed capital bond legislation, which included $37.6M for an additional 400 replacement and expansion beds across the Commonwealth.

In July 1994, DYS opened the juvenile wing of the Plymouth County Correctional Facility. This facility is used for juveniles charged with or convicted of murder, as well as juveniles who face adult sentences.

Beyond Beds

O'Leary initiated a major reorganization of the Department in September of 1994. Five Area Directors were named to assume responsibility for the development of a full continuum of services within specific geographic areas. The number of areas was subsequently reduced to four. The new "model" continuum of services was designed to allow for greater connection to a juvenile's family, schools and other community-based support systems.

On August 1, 1997, Governor Paul Cellucci named Robert P. Gittens as the new Commissioner of the Department of Youth Services. Gittens replaced O'Leary, who left DYS to accept the position of Massachusetts Secretary of Health and Human Services. During his tenure, Gittens succeeded in establishing a network of more than 30 day-reporting and neighborhood centers, which offered a wide range of services for at-risk and court-involved youth including educational services, substance abuse programs, and recreational activities. These centers were established in cities and towns with the highest concentrations of DYS youth.

This information is provided by the Department of Youth Services.