The Department of Youth Services Victim Services Unit provides information, support, and notification to victims of juvenile crime whose offenders are in the custody of the Department of Youth Services. This program enables the Department to fulfill the statutory mandates of M.G.L. c 258B s. 3 (t) and contributes to the agency's mission of building safer communities.
Pursuant to M.G.L. c. 258B s.3 (t), victims, family members of homicide victims and parents or guardians of minor age or incompetent victims shall, upon request, be informed by DYS whenever the juvenile receives a temporary, provisional, or final release from custody, whenever a juvenile is moved from a secure facility to a less secure facility, and whenever the juvenile escapes from custody.
To receive notice of release for a juvenile who has been adjudicated delinquent and committed to DYS, a victim or other eligible individual, must file an Application for Notice of a Juvenile's Release. To receive notice of release for a youthful offender who has been adjudicated and committed to DYS, a victim or other eligible individual must file a Victim Notification Registration with the Department of Criminal Justice Information Services Victim Services Unit.
Once processed, the Department of Youth Services Victim Services Unit will provide notice of the following changes in the juvenile's placement or status:
- Transfer from a secure facility to a less secure facility
- Temporary Release (pass eligibility)
- Provisional Release (release to the community)
- Discharge from DYS custody
- Transfer to the Department of Correction or House of Correction to serve a sentence
- Court ordered release from custody
If you would like to receive more information on our program and our services for victims and survivors of crime, please contact us at 617.960.3290 or by mail at
Department of Youth Services- Victim Services Unit
600 Washington Street 4th Floor
Boston, MA 02111
The DYS Victim Services Unit works with victims and survivors of crime to address their needs and safety concerns, answer questions about the DYS commitment and placement process, and help with accessing appropriate referrals.
Education & Training
The Victim Services Unit facilitates training on the DYS system and services for victims of juvenile crime for state agencies and community-based organizations across the state. To schedule a training, please contact the Victim Services Unit.
The Victim Services Unit at DYS collaborates with allied criminal justice agencies and post-conviction programs across the Commonwealth. to better serve victims of crime in Massachusetts. Some of these agencies' weblinks are listed below:
- Department of Criminal Justice Information Services
- Massachusetts Probation Services
- Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office Victim Compensation Division
- Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance
- Massachusetts Department of Correction Victim Service Unit
- Massachusetts Sex Offender Registry Board Victim Service Unit
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between a Juvenile Delinquent and a Youthful Offender?
A juvenile is youth between the ages of seven and eighteen who has been charged with a crime. The complaint is filed in juvenile court and the case is heard before a 6-person jury or a judge in a courtroom that is closed to the public. At the hearing of the case, the Court may continue the case without a finding or adjudicate the child delinquent and either: (a) place the case on file; (b) place the child on probation; or (c) commit the child to the Department of Youth Services until their eighteenth birthday. A Youthful Offender is an adolescent person who is between the ages of fourteen and eighteen who has been charged with a felony and who also has one of the following present:
- a previous commitment to the Department of Youth Services.
- the person is charged with a crime which involves the infliction or threat of serious bodily harm; or
- the person is charged with a crime which involves certain weapons offenses
The District Attorney may proceed by complaint in juvenile court or by indictment. If indicted, the case is heard before a 12-person jury or a judge in a courtroom that is open to the public. If a child is adjudicated a youthful offender, the Court may impose one of the following:
- a sentence provided by law (which means a commitment to the House of Correction or a state prison);
- a combination sentence (which means a DYS sentence plus an adult suspended sentence); or
- a commitment to the Department of Youth Services until the age of twenty-one.
What does it mean to be "committed" to the Department of Youth Services?
Once a juvenile is placed in the custody of the Department of Youth Services, they will receive treatment and partake in specific programming. Juveniles are also supervised by a Department of Youth Services Caseworker who monitors their progress and makes recommendations for future programming.
What happens to a juvenile when they are committed to the Department of Youth Services?
Upon commitment to DYS, each juvenile is assessed to determine what programs and treatment are appropriate. Treatment and services are provided to each juvenile in order to ensure a successful transition back to the community.
Does this mean they will be in a secure facility until they are 18 or 21?
In accordance with the DYS Classification Grid, a juvenile may spend a portion of their commitment in a secure facility and then progress through programs that enable the youth's return to the community.
What happens to a juvenile once they are released to the community?
Prior to being released to the community, each youth must sign a Grant of Conditional Liberty Agreement. This agreement lists the terms and conditions of their release. While in the community, each youth is supervised by a DYS caseworker and must maintain contact with them.