Pretrial Proceedings, Supervision, and Detention

This page provides data about bail hearings, youth on pretrial supervision ("pretrial probation") and youth detained pretrial. Youth have been arraigned at this point, but have not been adjudicated yet.

Table of Contents

Youth Dangerousness Hearings Data Trends

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Annual number of dangerousness hearings in Massachusetts since fiscal year 2018. (Data collected by the OCA from the Trial Court's public data dashboard on January 11, 2022. Download this data.)

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If a youth is charged with a specific offense listed in Massachusetts' law (Chapter 276, Sec. 58A) and the assistant district attorney (ADA) thinks the youth is dangerous, the ADA can ask the court to hold the youth without bail (no money or conditions set). If this happens, a hearing must be scheduled within three days. These hearings are called "Dangerousness Hearings," or are sometimes referred to as "58A hearings" due to the section of law that mandates them. 

At a Dangerousness Hearing, youth are represented by an attorney and they have the same rights as they would in a trial. At this hearing, the judge may consider the circumstances of the charge the youth is accused of committing, any potential danger posed by the youth's release, and other factors such as the youth's mental or behavioral health and substance use.

If the judge finds by clear and convincing evidence that there are no terms (called "conditions") the youth can follow that would reasonably assure the safety of an individual or the public if the youth were to be released, the judge can hold the youth in detention without the possibility of bail until the trial. If a judge finds the youth can be released on conditions, the youth is released with conditions to follow.

Youth Dangerousness Hearings Data: Demographic and Geographic Breakdowns

[Demographic data breakdowns for youth with dangerousness hearings will be available in the future.]

Below, select a county to see how many dangerousness hearings were held that year or use the drop down menu to see the change in number of hearings from the previous year. You can also use the drop down menu to view the number of dangerousness hearings in each court county per 10,000 youth (ages 12-17) in that county. To change the year, select the fiscal year from the drop down menu. 

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County population data is not yet available for 2021 comparisons. (Data collected by the OCA from the Trial Court's public data dashboard on May 1, 2021. Download this data.)

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Youth Pretrial Supervision Data Trends

After being arraigned, but before going to trial, a youth may be placed on pretrial supervision. The youth must report to a probation officer and follow rules set by the court. Some potential rules include wearing a GPS monitor, abiding by a curfew and staying away from certain people/places. If a youth violate these rules, the prosecutor can ask a judge to hold the youth in detention until their trial. 

The visualization below shows the number of pretrial supervision cases since FY15. Use the drop down menu to view the number of monthly cases across the state or select a court county. 

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Monthly juvenile pretrial probation caseloads since January 2015. Total monthly caseloads have decreased over the past 6 years from 1,267 supervised cases in January 2015 to 758 in January 2021. (Data obtained from Massachusetts Probation Public DashboardDownload this data.)

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Youth Pretrial Detention Data Trends

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Annual number of pretrial detention admissions in Massachusetts since fiscal year 2015. Youth pretrial detention admissions in Massachusetts have declined since FY15, from 2,101 in fiscal year 2015 to 553 in fiscal year 2021. (Download this data.)

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Detention occurs when a judge has placed a youth in the custody of the Department of Youth Services (DYS) before their trial. This occurs after a youth has been arrested and arraigned. A youth is placed in detention if:

  • a judge has set bail, but the youth is unable to pay the bail amount or meet the bail conditions of release
  • a judge has determined a youth is too dangerous to be released (following a 58A dangerousness hearing) 

A youth can also be placed in detention following a violation of probation. Detention stays can last from a couple of hours to weeks or months depending on a variety of factors. 

Data on bail determinations is not currently available.

Youth Pretrial Detention Data: Demographic and Geographic Breakdowns

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Estimated percentages for the race of all Massachusetts youth, ages 12 to 17, in 2020. (Source: EZAPOPDownload this data.)

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"Demographics of detention admissions", below, shows new detention admissions and the demographics of youth who are detained over time. From the drop down menu, you can select a demographic variable (race/ethnicity, gender, or age) of interest and see the breakdown of that variable in youth detention admissions over time. 

You can also look at data by calendar year or fiscal year, and look at either the total number of detention admissions in a given category, or the percent change in detention admissions in that category year over year.

As a point of comparison, this page also includes a visualization showing the racial distribution for all Massachusetts youth (not just those in the juvenile justice system) based on U.S. Census data. 

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Statewide youth detention admissions are shown by race, gender, and age group for each fiscal year since 2015. Beginning in FY19, youth under 12 can no longer be arrested or prosecuted in the juvenile justice system as a result of "An Act Relative to Criminal Justice Reform." (Download this data.)

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The visualization below shows changes in the total number of youth who are detained in a given year, as well as demographic breakdowns (race/ethnicity or gender). This is called the DYS annual detention caseload

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Statewide youth detention caseloads are shown by race, gender, and age group for each fiscal year since 2018. DYS caseload data is not broken down by age since age changes over time and caseload data takes into account all youth in a given year. (Download this data.)

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Below, select a county to see how many detention admissions occurred that year or to see the percent change in admissions from the previous year. You can also select to view the number of detention admissions in each court county per 10,000 youth (ages 12-17) in that county. To change the year, select the option from the drop-down menu. 

The first visualization shows where youth reside (home county). The second shows where a youth was arrested (sending county). Sending county data is unavailable for 2021. 

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A heat map shows annual detention admissions by home county (where the youth resides) and sending county (where the youth was arrested). Sending county uses the Massachusetts Juvenile Court jurisdictions of 11 divisions across the state: combining Franklin and Hampshire counties, and Barnstable, Dukes and Nantucket counties along with the town of Plymouth. (Download this data.)

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Youth Pretrial Detention Data: Offense Type and Severity

The visualizations below show what types of offenses youth were detained for, and how that has changed over time. You can also look at data by calendar year or fiscal year, and look at either the total number of detention admissions in a given category, or the percent change in detention admissions in that category year over year.

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Statewide youth detentions are shown by offense types for each year since 2015. Offense types include drugs, motor vehicle, person, property, public order, weapons and other/not available. (Download this data.)

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Annual detention admissions to DYS by MSO grid level since 2015. 

*Grid level 7 is reserved for youth sentenced in adult court for murder and is not reflected in this graph.

(Download this data.)

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The Department of Youth Services categorizes the seriousness of offense by “grid level.” This is a numeric representation ranging from 1 (least serious) to 7 (most serious), based on the adult sentencing guidelines. 

Examples of common offense types for each grid level include: 
1- Disturbing the peace, Petty larceny, Possession of marijuana
2- Possession of cocaine, Assault and battery
3- Breaking and entering (felony), Larceny (felony)
4- Assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, Armed robbery
5-Armed assault and robbery, Attempted murder
6- Car jacking with a firearm
7*- Murder

The next visualization indicates the MSO Grid Level for new detention admissions.

About the Data

Data Obtained From:

Data on Dangerousness Hearings is obtained from the Trial Court's Public Dashboards and was retrieved on January 11,2022.

Data on pretrial supervision caseload data is obtained from Probation's Public Dashboards and was retrieved December 1, 2021.

Data on pretrial supervision cases starts comes from Massachusetts Probation Service.

Data on youth detention comes from the Department of Youth Services. 

Definitions:

58A Hearing "dangerousness hearing": If a youth is charged with a specific offense listed in Massachusetts General Laws chapter 276, Section 58A, and the District Attorney believes the youth would pose too great a danger to the public to release pretrial, the District Attorney can ask the court to hold the child without bail. The judge makes the final determination. 

Arraignment: The procedure by which the youth is brought before a court of law to answer criminal or delinquent charges.

Bail: Money deposited to release the arrested person from custody. The purpose of bail is to make sure that the defendant will appear for all court dates. 

Birth sex: DYS reports with the following options: Male or Female. Youth are asked to self-identify.

Calendar year: From January 1 through December 31 of the year listed. 

Fiscal year: From July 1 through June 30 of the year listed. 

Race/ethnicity: 

The Trial Court reports race and ethnicity data with the following categories: White, Black or African-American, Hispanic/Latinx and Other. The Other category is a consolidation of American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, Other, and Multirace, due to low case numbers in these groups. Youth are asked to self-identify. 

Probation reports with the following options: American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Black or African American, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, Other or Mixed Race, and white. Ethnicity is defined as: Hispanic or Latino, Non-Hispanic/Latino, or Not known/Not reported. 

DYS reports with the following options: American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, Black or African American, Chooses not to self-identify, Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, White, Multiracial (if more than one selected). Ethnicity is self-reported – “Yes” or “No”— as Hispanic. Youth are asked to self-identify.

Due to the small numbers of youth, individuals in the following race categories are reported in "Other" in these visualizations: American Indian or Alaskan Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, and Unknown race categories. 

Definitions for juvenile justice terms adapted from "Kids and the Law: A User's Guide to the Juvenile Court" 4th ed. by Rebecca Pries, LMHC and Carol Rosensweig, Esq. Click here for an electronic copy and more information.

Definitions for data reporting terms from each reporting entity. 

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