Overview

The Massachusetts Probation Service is at the center in the delivery of justice through investigations, community supervision of offenders/litigants, reduction in crime, dispute resolution, service to victims, and the performance of other appropriate community service functions.

There are circumstances in which statutes and regulations allow Probation to disclose information to certain agencies. There are many instances in which Probation may not share information without a court order or detailed, signed release. (See Appendix E for release of information form). Probation reserves the right in certain matters where there is an adverse interest between the parent or legal guardian and the juvenile, to require a court order instead of a signed release. In addition, victims are entitled to some information by statute.

Youthful offender cases are open for public inspection to the same extent as adult cases. Probation files are still confidential except where release is authorized. However, the name of a child shall be made public by the Probation Officer if the child is charged with a felony delinquency offense that was allegedly committed between the ages of fourteen and eighteen AND the child was previously adjudicated delinquent on felony charges on at least two occasions.  See G.L. c. 119, §60A.

When can Probation personnel disclose information to DCF?

Probation Officers are required to report cases of suspected child abuse and neglect to DCF and to disclose to DCF upon request, any information that may be relevant to an investigation of a case of suspected abuse or neglect. G.L. c. 119 §§ 51A and 51B. Probation shall disclose information to DCF with a court order or a detailed, signed release from the individual (if that individual is an adult) or the parent or legal guardian (if that individual is a child).

When can Probation personnel disclose information to DYS?

Probation shall disclose to DYS “all pertinent information in their possession in respect to the case” regarding youth committed to the care or custody of DYS. G.L. c. 119, §69A.

When can Probation personnel disclose information to school officials?

Probation may disclose information to schools under a court order or with a detailed, signed release from the individual (if that individual is an adult) or the parent or legal guardian (if that individual is a child).

When can Probation personnel disclose information to Juvenile Court Investigators?

Probation may disclose information to Juvenile Court Investigators under a court order or with a detailed, signed release from the individual (if that individual is an adult) or the parent or legal guardian (if that individual is a child).

When can Probation personnel disclose information to the child's delinquency attorney?

Probation may disclose information to the delinquency attorney. G.L. c. 119, §60A.

When can Probation personnel disclose information to a GAL or CASA?

Probation may disclose information to the GAL or CASA under a court order or with a detailed, signed release from the individual (if that individual is an adult) or parent or legal guardian (if that individual is a child).

Disclosure as part of the Community Based Juvenile Justice Programs

When can Probation personnel disclose confidential information as part of the Community Based Juvenile Justice Programs?

Probation is an invited participant to the Community Based Juvenile Justice Programs (roundtables) pursuant to G.L. c. 12, §32. Although the CBJ statute expressly speaks to agency collaboration with the District Attorney’s office, the statute does not independently authorize Probation to release confidential information beyond the limits outlined in this section.

When can Probation personnel disclose information to police/criminal justice agencies?

The Commissioner of Probation is authorized to share information to local and state law enforcement and other criminal justice agencies for criminal justice purposes. The Commissioner of Probation has discretion to share information with federal government agencies. G.L. c. 276, §100, but see also G.L. c. 119, §60A. Each request is analyzed by the keeper of records. Probation may disclose CRA or Care and Protection information to police/criminal justice agencies when Probation has a court order to release the information. In addition, Probation may disclose records to the District Attorneys pursuant to court orders under Trial Court Rule IX. Probation is required to provide a copy of any notice of Probation violation and hearing to the District Attorney. Juvenile Court Standing Order 1-17 III, IV.

When can Probation personnel disclose information to service providers?

Probation may disclose information to service providers under a court order or with a detailed, signed release from the individual (if that individual is an adult) or the parent or legal guardian (if that individual is a child). If the court orders an individual to participate in an Intimate Partner Abuse Education Program, Probation shall provide the individual's CARI to the provider.

When can Probation personnel disclose information to victims?

Probation Officers have the obligation to confer with victims prior to the filing of the full pre-sentence report. G.L. c. 258B, §3(n). If restitution is ordered as part of a case disposition, the victim is entitled to receive a copy of the schedule of restitution payments and the name and phone number of the Probation Officer or other official who is responsible for supervising the defendant’s payments. G.L. c. 258B, §3(o).

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