• A Message from the Commissioner

    The impact of crime and victimization affects not only its victims and survivors, but also their families, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and our communities at large. I value crime victims' rights and services and I'm committed to providing those affected by crime with the information and assistance they deserve.

    Our Victim Service Unit assists victims in securing their rights under the law. These services are administered with respect, confidentiality and compassion. If you or someone you know has been hurt by crime and the offender is currently in our custody, I urge you to contact our Victim Service Unit.

    Overview of the Victim Services Unit pdf format of Overview of the Victim Services Unit

    Addressing the Needs of Victims

    National Crime Victims' Rights Week Video

    National Crime Victims' Rights Week 2007
    Video Transcript

    Descriptions of graphic elements appear in brackets. Throughout the video, still images and video clips fade in and out as victims speak about their experiences.]

    [Start of video.]

    White male: This was the first time that I was able to-and had the right to-tell this man what he had done. [Images of a woman crying in court and a distraught teenage boy fade on and off screen.]

    [Text moves across the screen: The Right To Be Heard.]

    White female: I wanted my voice heard as well as his. I wanted the parole board to know what I had gone through and why he deserved to stay in jail.

    American Indian female: It wasn't just me going through the pain, it affected my whole family. And I wanted to make sure that I spoke not just for myself, but for everyone. [Images of a cemetery and of an American Indian drum circle fade on and off screen.]

    Victim advocate, white male: Victims are meaningful. They're more than just witnesses. They're more than just bit players. They're important participants in the criminal justice system. [Images of victims continue to move across the screen, including an image of two young boys holding candles.]

    [Closing title animation begins.]

    Paul Charlton: We need to seek justice, and the only way we can do that is by giving victims voice.

    Dr. Lorraine Chase: Every victim, every time, is the way it should always be.

    [The title animates on the screen: Victims' Rights: Every Victim. Every Time.]

    [End of video clip.]

    Victim Services Unit Contact Information

    Victim Services Header Image

    Commonwealth of Massachusetts

    Department of Correction

    Victim Services Unit
    999 Barretts Mill Road
    West Concord, MA 01742

    Phone: 978-369-3618
    Toll Free: 866-684-2846

    Victim Questions and Concerns

    If I become certified, will the inmate know that I am certified or know my address and personal information?
    No, certification information is confidential and is not released to inmates at any time or under any circumstances.

    What should I do if I am receiving unwanted contact from an inmate?
    You should contact the Department of Correction Victim Service Unit as soon as possible and we will assist you.

    Why are inmate sentences reduced from what was announced by the court?
    Legislation allows most inmates to earn a reduced sentence by participating in approved programming. Since sentence reduction is mandated under Massachusetts Law, the Department of Correction is responsible for recording and calculating such credits.

    Is a certified petitioner notified of an inmate's upcoming parole hearing?
    Yes, however notification is made directly by Parole, not the Department of Correction. Certified petitioners may also submit a victim impact statement to the Parole Board to express their opinion regarding the potential parole of an inmate.

    Statewide Resources

    Massachusetts Department of Correction
    978-369-3618 or toll free 866-684-2846

    Victim Information & Notification Everyday
    (VINE) 877-421-8463

    Massachusetts Criminal History Systems Board

    Massachusetts Parole Board
    508-242-8001 or toll free 877-228-8482

    Massachusetts Office for Victims of Crime

    Massachusetts Attorney General's Office
    Victim Compensation Unit or Victim/Witness
    Assistance Division

    National Center for Victims of Crime
    703-276-2880 or toll free 800-FYI-CALL

    U.S. Office for Victims of Crime

    Victim Certification

    The DOC VSU serves the victim community by automatically disseminating important information to individuals who become certified petitioners. As a victim, family member of a victim, witness, or other concerned individual, it is important to understand that certification is the only means by which you will receive automatic notification of certain changes in the custody status of an offender. Applications for certified petitioner status are submitted to the Criminal History Systems Board, the agency responsible for approving certifications. The process is simple, quick and confidential.

    To apply for certification or learn more about it, please contact the VSU at: 978-369-3618

    Victim Notification

    While some information regarding an inmate may not be communicated to the public under law, the Department of Correction is allowed to directly notify certified petitioners when an inmate in our custody:

    • Transfers to an institution with a security
      rating lower than Level 4

    • Returns to higher security from Level 1, 2 or 3
    • Receives a final release date
    • Receives an emergency escorted trip
    • Dies
    • Escapes

  • Information and Referrals About Victim Rights and Services  pdf format of Information and Referrals About Victim Rights...

  • History of Victim Rights in Massachusetts  pdf format of History of Victim Rights in Massachusetts

  • Cost of Crime and Victimization  pdf format of Cost of Crime and Victimization

  • Substance Abuse and Crime Victimization  pdf format of Substance Abuse and Crime Victimization

  • Mental Health Consequences of Crime  pdf format of Mental Health Consequences of Crime