Standards on Substance Abuse: Standard X. Recommendations to correctional authorities

Standards prepared by the Supreme Judicial Court Standing Committee on Substance Abuse

Table of Contents

Standard X

Criminal courts should indicate to correctional authorities on the mittimus when a defendant has a substance abuse problem, to assist in classifying the inmate and addressing treatment needs. Judges are encouraged to recommend a particular treatment program or a particular institution on the mittimus. Courts should also provide correctional authorities with the results of court-ordered assessments and any other relevant information that will assist in the classification of the inmate.


The purpose of this standard is to encourage courts to make recommendations directly on the defendant's mittimus to the sheriff's department or Department of Correction in an effort to provide correctional authorities with information about a defendant's substance abuse problem and to promote the placement of a defendant in an appropriate substance abuse treatment program operated by correctional authorities. Since most defendants are released eventually, public safety is served and recidivism is less likely when treatment is provided in the institution. Judges and probation officers should familiarize themselves with treatment programs in jails and prisons, including eligibility requirements, and, if possible, waiting lists, in order to recommend a particular treatment program or institution on the mittimus. Whenever possible, judges and probation officers are encouraged to obtain personal knowledge about available treatment programs. This knowledge will not only inform sentencing decisions, but also will permit judges to explain sentences more accurately to the public. This standard will also help to expedite the classification of offenders held without bail or sentenced to short terms of incarceration.

The Office of the Commissioner of Probation, in consultation with the Standing Committee on Substance Abuse, should develop, distribute, and maintain a directory of substance abuse treatment programs run by correctional institutions that includes each program's address, contact person and title, eligibility requirements, duration, process of referral, treatment method, and program capacity. The directory of institutional treatment programs should be organized by regions. The Office of the Commissioner of Probation may combine the directory of institutional treatment programs with the directory of community treatment providers recommended in Standard XV.

One way of assuring that correctional authorities are alerted to substance abuse issues would be to add a check-off box for substance abusers to the mittimus form.



Main number (617) 557-1000
Clerks' Offices Emergency Number (857) 275-8036
Clerk's Office for the Commonwealth (617) 557-1020

Francis V. Kenneally, Clerk

Clerk's Office for the County of Suffolk (617) 557-1100

Maura S. Doyle, Clerk

Public Information Office (617) 557-1114

Jennifer Donahue, Public Information Officer


John Adams Courthouse
1 Pemberton Square, Suite 2500
Boston, MA 02108

Help Us Improve with your feedback