Monday, March 21, 2011
Joyce opposes merger of Probation and Parole

State Senator Brian A. Joyce says he is opposed to the governor’s proposal to merge the Probation and Parole departments.
Joyce, a Democrat from Milton, was one of three senators appointed to a working group of legislative and executive branch officials to study Probation Department reform. The group was formed following a report by counsel Paul F. Ware that revealed wrongdoings in the department, specifically over hiring practices.
Governor Deval Patrick has said that he wants to merge the Probation Department, which is currently under the judicial branch, with the Parole Department, which is overseen by the executive branch of government.
Patrick has said that the merge would save $14 million annually and that it would encourage a more linear and accessible system for convicted criminals who are reentering society. He has proposed naming the merged department the Department of Reentry and Community Supervision.
After sitting on the working group and speaking with judges, Joyce announced last week that he disagrees with the governor.
“Gov. Patrick deserves credit for his significant efforts toward more cost effective public safety measures,” said Joyce in a press release. “I agree with much of what the administration has proposed for public safety and for the Judiciary, but I oppose the plan to merge the Probation Department with the Parole Board.”
Chief Justice Roderick Ireland has said that he, too, disagrees with the governor’s proposal; he said he thinks that Probation should stay with the judiciary. He said that in his experience as a Juvenile Court judge, it is most effective for the offender if probation officers are working closely with judges.
House Speaker Robert DeLeo also opposes Patrick’s plan. He proposes to keep the department under the judiciary, but that any hiring recommendations made by legislators should become public documents as soon as the candidate was hired.
The working group’s 22-page report, released in January, recommended that the Probation Department stays put. It called for changes aimed at empowering Probation Department managers, which would ensure more judicial oversight. The group recommended that new legislation clarify the authority of the chief administrator of the trial courts, to allow for more oversight.
Sarah Favot can be reached at [email protected].