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Basic services, 2017

  • Overall

    State operated

  • Detention

    State operated

  • Probation

    State operated

  • Reentry

    State operated

Delinquency services in Massachusetts are organized at the both the state and local level. Secure detention and state commitments are both administered by the Department of Youth Services (DYS) within the Massachusetts Department of Health and Human Services, a state-level executive agency.

Community Supervision is administered by the Office of Commission of Probation a state judicial agency, across 11 local divisions.

Aftercare services for youth leaving state facilities are administered at the state level by DYS.

Corrections agency, 2015

  • Independent juvenile corrections agency

  • Family/child welfare agency or division

  • Broad human services agency

  • Adult corrections agency or division

The Department of Youth Services (DYS), within the Massachusetts Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) administers commitments to state juvenile correctional facilities. Reentry services for youth leaving DYS commitments are administered either by DYS or local juvenile courts.

Solitary confinement, 2016

  • Prohibits punitive confinement

  • Limits punitive confinement

  • No limits on punitive confinement

  • Did not respond

Solitary confinement for punitive purposes is not allowed in Massachusetts' juvenile correctional facilities. Confinement is allowed to control seriously disruptive or dangerous behavior in a facility, population management, or investigation. Tiered approval is necessary for confinement up to 12 hours. Confinement exceeding 12 hours requires DYS Central Office consultation.  (Adapted from 51 Jurisdiction Survey of Juvenile Solitary Confinement Rules in Juvenile Justice Systems, 2016. Lowenstein Center for the Public Interest at Lowenstein Sandler LLP)

Release decision, 2016

  • Agency

  • Court

  • Parole board

  • Agency and court

Release decisions for youth committed to the Department of Youth Services (DYS) are the responsibility of the Department. The Department may direct the release of a youth from residential facilities to his or her home and family but retain jurisdiction to supervise the youth until the commitment expires. When placing youth back into the home, DYS is responsible for notifying the Department of Transitional Services of the name of the child and the person to whom care has been entrusted.

Risk assessment, 2017

Organization 2013 2017
Statewide uniform assessment
Layered/regional assessment
Locally administered assessment

In Massachusetts, juvenile probation is administered by the Office of Commissioner of Probation a state judicial agency which has an administrative policy requiring the use of a risk/needs assessment. The state has adopted the Ohio Youth Assessment System (OYAS) statewide.

Information gathered from the OYAS will be used to develop/inform pre-disposition investigation reports and/or planning, develop probation disposition recommendations to the juvenile court, assign probation supervision level, and develop probation case plans.

The state will be able to aggregate case level data and use it to support local reliability and validity testing of the OYAS, assist with probation administration and organizational planning, and for ongoing policy research.

Risk instruments, 2017

  • Statute or agency policy

    Required by state or administrative regulation

  • Agency recommended

    Recommended by probation oversite agency

Risk instruments tool used
Ohio Youth Assessment System

Mental health screening, 2014

Requires a research-based mental health screening

  • Secure detention

  • Probation

  • Corrections

Mental health screening tool used
Massachusetts Youth Screening Instrument –Version 2 (MAYSI-2)

Massachusetts encourages the use of a research based mental health screening tool in both detention and correction settings. The Massachusetts Department of Youth Services (DYS) has an administrative policy that requires the Massachusetts Youth Screening Instrument, 2nd Edition (MAYSI-2) to be used during intake at their DYS and provider residential facilities as well as secure treatment and detention facilities.

There is currently no uniform mental health screening tool in juvenile probation.

Frameworks for evidence-based practices, 2014

  • Statute

    Supporting commitment to EBPs

  • Administrative regulations

    Either in corrections, probation, or the juvenile court

  • Support center

    Or collaboration dedicated to coordinating activities around implementing, evaluating, and sustaining EBPs

  • No stance

    No official stance on EBPs

  • Did not respond

    State did not respond to the survey

There is little evidence of work being done at the state level to advance evidence based practices. The Massachusetts Department of Youth Services has policies to support the use of EBP's and they are currently evaluating the results in secure treatment settings. DYS funds specific intervention programs that are evidence based and funds training and technical assistance related to the implementation of EBP's.

There is currently no active research strategy in place for EBP's. The push for EBP's is localized and has resulted in lots of current discussions about creating a more formal state wide push. The Public Insurance System in Massachusetts has increased EBP's available to the general public, including juveniles.

Recidivism reporting, 2016

Study populations

The group(s) of youth being studied in states that publicly report recidivism data.

  • Arrest

  • Court action

  • Supervision

  • Placement

Re-offense events

Events that are used to measure recidivism in states that publicly report recidivism data.

  • Arrest

  • Court action

  • Supervision

  • Placement

Follow-up periods

Details regarding the length of time and frequency that youth are tracked in states that publicly report recidivism data.

12 months with adult systems reporting


Additional levels of analysis provided in states that publicly report recidivism data.

  • County

  • Age

  • Gender

  • Race/ethn.

  • Risk level

  • Initial offense

  • Re-offense

  • Prior history

The Massachusetts Department of Youth Services (DYS) publishes a recidivism report for youth discharged from the agency.  Recidivism is defined as an adult conviction  for an offense committed within one year of discharge from DYS.  

Data sources

Juvenile Recidivism Report For Clients Discharged During 2011
Department of Youth Services

About this project

Juvenile Justice GPS (Geography, Policy, Practice, Statistics) is a project to develop a repository providing state policy makers and system stakeholders with a clear understanding of the juvenile justice landscape in the states.

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