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Trouble in Probation:

by Representative Carolyn Dykema
June 7, 2010

Trouble in Probation: A Black Eye, yet a Golden Opportunity

 

Trouble in Probation: A Black Eye, yet a Golden Opportunity

Criminal corrections has been front page news recently. On one hand, I joined my colleagues in the legislature to enact an overdue Criminal Offender Records Information (CORI) law that will help rehabilitate criminals and give employers better information when hiring ex-offenders. That’s good news.

On the other hand, this important policy vote was eclipsed by troubling Boston Globe articles alleging patronage and “pay-to-play” hiring in the Department of Probation. As your legislator, it’s frustrating that years of good work by many hardworking elected officials on CORI reform was overshadowed by accusations of government self interest and corruption. When it comes to earning the public confidence, these events are one step forward and two steps back.

I commend Chief Justice Marshall for her swift response to the probation allegations by replacing the commissioner and assigning a special investigator with exceptional powers to look into and prosecute wrongdoing. In the House, I filed an amendment to the CORI legislation that would increase accountability and transparency in the probation hiring process. In the coming months I will stay focused on this issue and committed to increasing oversight in probation and elsewhere.

At the same time, we have a golden opportunity to address broader criminal corrections policy and cost issues that have been on the legislative back burner for years. At the heart of the discussion is a significant 10-year growth in corrections spending. We are spending more, but not seeing a material public safety benefit and we need to do better. More accountability in hiring is only part of the problem.

A recent report by the Boston Foundation finds that many non-violent offenders, with the support of proven re-entry strategies, can be helped back to leading productive, taxpaying lives. The alternative - expanding our prisons - is hard to justify given there are other successful and cost-effective options available, many of which are already working in other states.

In the coming months I will work to ensure that our state agencies are professionally run by employees who are qualified to perform. At the same time, we must take advantage of this critical opportunity to show public policy leadership and implement cost-saving reforms to our sentencing and corrections programs. We cannot and should not let this opportunity pass us by.

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State Representative Carolyn Dykema represents the towns of Holliston, Hopkinton, Medway (pct. 1), Southborough (pct. 2&3) and Westborough (pct 2).

 
 

 

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Comments (1)

Thanks for the soft soap commentary but if you wanted to build faith in Government then just remove the temptations for nepotism and political favoritism in the public workplace. Every non-elected Government, or pseudo-authority, job opportunity needs to be publicly posted and then have an openly competitive hiring process.

- Don MacLeod | 6/7/10 11:55 PM

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