- Massachusetts Probation Service
Media Contact for Massachusetts Probation Service celebrates transformative role and rich history as agency of second chances during National Pretrial and Probation Supervision Month 2023
Coria Holland, Communications Director
The Massachusetts Probation Service (MPS), the country’s first Probation Service established in 1878, is celebrating National Pretrial and Probation Supervision Month in the Commonwealth with the kick-off of National Pretrial and Probation Supervision Week, July 16-22. This observance is set by the American Probation and Parole Association (APPA) and this year’s theme is “Stronger Together.” MPS’ probation officers are among more than 100,000 community corrections professionals across the country who work with probationers and the justice-involved. There are approximately 650 line Probation Officers (PO’s) and 200 Associate Probation Officers (APO’s).
The role of the probation officer in Massachusetts has transformed from a primarily law enforcement with social work focus to one that encompasses the front-line, modern-day challenges faced by probationers such as addiction, trauma, homelessness, gaps in health and behavioral care, and unemployment. This is accomplished by using evidence-based practices and the implementation of programs and initiatives that meet the needs of the justice-involved, according to Acting Probation Commissioner Dianne Fasano.
“Probation Officers work with clients and those involved with the justice system by supporting them in making long-term positive changes in the areas of substance use, mental health, homelessness, education, employment and family relationships. PO’s help them address their challenges by encouraging them to get to the root of their problems and working with them to create a plan to address their issues as well as directing them to therapeutic services all while holding them accountable,” said Ms. Fasano. “MPS now has in place resources such as housing. Our staff also links eligible individuals to MassHealth. These resources are examples of essential needs that must be met before tackling other issues.”
MPS is one of the few probation services in the country to offer sober and transitional housing and access to health care through enrollment in MassHealth insurance programs. Several MPS employees are certified to enroll court-involved individuals in the program. MPS also provides educational and job training and placement at the 18 statewide Community Justice Support Centers. Clients participate in specialty courts such as Drug, Recovery, Veterans, Mental Health, Homeless, and Family courts. Probationers also have access to a number of programs such as parenting—Mothers and Fatherhood Programs--and Changing Lives through Literature.
Exemplifying this month's national theme, "Stronger Together," MPS is comprised of units and departments that work cohesively to address the needs of probationers and the justice-involved. MPS' Pretrial Unit works to reduce failure to appear in court rates. The Administrative Supervision Unit manages driving under the influence cases. MPS' Victim Services Unit supports victims and survivors of crime by creating safety plans, helping them navigate the court system, and notifying them of upcoming hearings. The Electronic Monitoring Program (ELMO) conducts electronic monitoring and remote alcohol testing of pretrial defendants and probationers as ordered by a judge. Parolees are also monitored by GPS.
As part of its supervision efforts, MPS also partners with other agencies and community-based organizations such as the Executive Office of Health and Human Services and Community Resources for Justice (CRJ) to meet the needs of probationers and the justice-involved.