Community Justice Support Centers (CJSC)
There are 18 CJSC across the state. Clients attend CJSC to participate in programs designed to improve their lives and avoid further criminal justice involvement. Each CJSC offers about 15 different programs, including cognitive behavioral treatment for Substance Use Disorder (SUD) and to improve decision making, employment counseling, and Adult Basic Education, GED/HiSET, and post-secondary preparation.
Typically, CJSC attendance is ordered by the court pursuant to G. L. c. 211F § 3, but it can also be a condition of parole or pre-release supervision. For people going home after being incarcerated, attending may be a choice. Listed below are some of the ways people use the CJSC.
Intensive Supervision with Treatment (IST)
Intensive Supervision with Treatment (IST) combines services such as treatment, education, and employment counseling, with accountability measures such as drug and alcohol screening, community service, electronic monitoring, and day reporting for those that are at high-risk for re-offending and either haven’t been successful on traditional probation or are suited for an alternative to incarceration. IST participants receive a full assessment to determine the needs they have that are most likely to contribute to future criminal actions. CJSC staff work with the client to develop a treatment plan to address those needs. Once the client and staff have decided on an appropriate treatment plan, the client reports to the CJSC to attend classes, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), HiSET/GED preparation, and employment readiness/retention.
CJSC staff meet weekly to review client progress, and provide a formal review for the client and the court on a monthly basis. Clients that are assessed to be at the highest risk level typically need to complete more than 250 hours of CBT programming to be successful. Clients can work with staff to determine a pace for completing CBT hours. People who attend the CJSC more frequently can complete their hours in a shorter period of time. Clients that complete CBT hours, attend classes regularly, and demonstrate pro-social change through positive interaction, employment or educational achievement can transition from weekly CJSC attendance as part of IST to standard probation supervision.
Standard probation supervision
Many probation clients are subject to customized probation conditions designed to meet a particular need they have. For example, the court may order a person to “obtain employment” or “obtain a GED/HiSET.” Beginning in April 2019, if that person has also been assessed by the probation department to be at moderate or high-risk for re-offending, their probation officer can refer them to the CJSC to meet that probation condition. The CJSC offers many different programs, including:
- Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment to address decision making and substance use disorders such as Moral Reconation Therapy, Substance Abuse and Criminal Conduct, and Relapse Prevention Therapy
- Education including Adult Basic Education, GED/HiSET preparation, Financial Literacy, Basic Computer, and college preparation
- Employment Support including ServSafe, Change Companies: Seeking Employment and Job Skills, NIC Job Club, and job retention
There are many other ways that the CJSC provides services to probation clients under Standard Probation Supervision. For example, in Berkshire County, the CJSC offers the Intimate Partner Abuse Education Program certified by the Department of Public Health. Many CJSC locations serve as collection sites for the MA Probation Service Drug and Alcohol Screening Program. Probation departments use the CJSC as a place to meet with their clients in the community, especially after traditional court business hours. CJSC also host other programs offered by local probation departments, such as Motherhood, Fatherhood, and Changing Lives through Literature.
When a person makes their first appearance in court on a criminal case, the court must decide if there are any actions they need to take to make sure that the person comes back to court for their next court date. If the court decides that the person needs some support to make sure that they’ll come back to court, it may order the person to report to the CJSC for Pretrial Services supervised by a probation officer as a category B condition of release under G. L. c. 276 §§ 57, 58, or 58A. Pretrial Services allows a person to stay at home while their case is pending as long as they report to the CJSC periodically and follow any other conditions of release the court places on them. When a person first comes to the CJSC for Pretrial Services, they’ll meet with CJSC staff to determine their reporting schedule, discuss any services they would like the CJSC to help them with, and be told the next time they have to report to court. A person ordered to participate in Pretrial Services doesn’t have to participate in any services at the CJSC. However, if they’re interested in getting treatment for drug or alcohol use or help with education or employment, the CJSC will help them get that service from a community-based provider and case manage it so their participation can be reported to the court.
Many people that go to court for criminal cases need to be immediately treated for drug or alcohol use, or desperately need support with housing, employment, or education. Pretrial Treatment allows a person to come to the CJSC during the pretrial phase of their case to do the same Intensive Supervision with Treatment as someone who was sentenced to the CJSC by the court. By participating in a plan to address these issues early in the process, before the court has entered a final judgment, they’re able to get back on track, shorten the time it takes to resolve their case, and hopefully get a more favorable outcome. With the defendant’s permission, the court can order the defendant to report to the CJSC for Pretrial Treatment supervised by a probation officer as a category B condition of release under G.L. c. 276 §§ 57, 58, and 58A. For more information about what’s available at the CJSC via Pretrial Treatment, please see the description of Intensive Supervision with Treatment.
Community Service Program
To find out more about the Community Service Program, please see Learn about the Trial Court Community Service Program.