Changing Lives through Literature
The result of close collaboration between academia and the criminal justice system, Changing Lives through Literature strives to reduce recidivism through reading. Taught by English professors, each CLTL program encourages participants, who include judges, probationers, and probation officers, to examine their life experiences and challenges by exploring diverse works of literature and poetry. Participants meet for 12–14 weeks in a college classroom setting to read and discuss works by authors such as Toni Morrison and Ernest Hemingway. The goal is to get probationers to use literature as a way to:
- Relate to their own life experiences
- Reflect on their past decisions
- Gain valuable insights into what influences or triggers their behavior
- Enable them to make better life choices
CLTL graduates report feeling a sense of accomplishment, with a more positive view of their fellow probationers, judges, and probation officers. A recent study conducted at the University of Massachusetts (UMass) - Boston found that more than half (53 percent) of CLTL participants hadn't been arrested in the 18 months after completing the program, compared to 36 percent of non-CLTL participants.
CHOICE is an intensive probation supervision program in the Roxbury Division of the Boston Municipal Court. CHOICE offers youthful offenders the opportunity to pursue either educational or vocational goals as an alternative to incarceration.
Heroin Education Awareness Task Force Program (HEAT)
The Heroin Education Awareness Taskforce (HEAT) focuses on education, outreach, and treatment. Created in 2005 by CPO Vincent Piro, Jr., and PO Michael Higgins of Woburn District Court to address the growing opiate crisis among young adults, HEAT is a partnership of probation, police, firefighters, the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Bureau of Substance Abuse Services, treatment facilities, courts, emergency rooms, community coalitions and organizations, schools, and parents. HEAT currently serves 7 communities:
- North Reading
Probation and the task force work with police officers from these 7 towns to educate the communities they serve. HEAT was one of the first opiate task forces in the nation to challenge the stigma and misconceptions surrounding drug addiction by providing educational outreach, intervention, and access to treatment. To date, HEAT has referred over 3,000 people to treatment, and educated more than 6,000 young adults, parents, and families. HEAT has hosted 11 annual educational conferences with more than 300 professional attendees each year.
The NiteLite Program is one of the longest-running Massachusetts probation programs. This community supervision program pairs probation officers with local police on home and neighborhood visits. Operation NiteLite has spawned a number of unique probation initiatives throughout the state. It has also served as a model for national and international law enforcement.
Parenting initiatives (motherhood and fatherhood programs)
These programs are 12-week parenting programs in which offenders are taught parenting skills and how to be better role models to their children. Probationers attend weekly lectures and interactive sessions on issues that include domestic violence, substance abuse, employment, and good nutrition.
The Massachusetts Probation Service offers 13 Fatherhood Programs statewide in 8 counties. Program participants are ordered by a judge to attend the 12-week Fatherhood Program based on a probation officer’s recommendation.
This program features a series of workshops, presentations, and discussion groups. Topics highlighted in these sessions include child development, communications skills, domestic and family violence, men’s health, substance abuse, employment, education, and legal matters, such as child support. Judges, clergy, social service providers, and representatives from state agencies, such as the Department of Revenue (DOR), are among the guest speakers.
The program culminates with a graduation ceremony during the 13th week where the fathers’ accomplishments are celebrated and acknowledged. Past participants have reported positive outcomes, such as re-establishing relationships with their children as well as learning new approaches to positive interaction with the mothers of their children.
Shakespeare and the Courts
Selected juveniles currently on probation or under the supervision of the courts are ordered to participate and complete an intensive acting/communications program under the supervision of professional actors from the Lenox-based Shakespeare & Co. Juveniles participate in a 6-week session which entails attending four 3-hour sessions each week. These sessions culminate with a live evening performance by the youth before an audience.
These multi-week programs for female probationers are designed to prevent recidivism and help women offenders achieve healthy lives free of violence, drugs, and crime. Probationers in these programs attend classes that address domestic violence, women’s health, substance abuse, and job readiness skills.
Boston, MA 02108
|Last updated:||June 30, 2020|