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Study: Probation Ineffective, Wasting Money

This article is more than 10 years old.

A new report from the Boston Foundation finds the Massachusetts Probation Department is wasting public money and compromising public safety.

Study author Len Engel, of the Crime and Justice Institute, says probation's budget increased by 163 percent in 10 years and the department is not forthcoming with data about its programs and policies.

"As far as we could tell, they weren't putting their money back into improved programming, better tools to understand the risk that the offenders posed to the public," Engel said.

Engel says he cannot even determine how many people in the state are on probation, and that the department needs to better track caseload numbers.

"This is a very important role and it also helps you determine whether you are successful at what your central role is, which is public safety," he said.

Without departmental improvements, the report estimates the state will have to spend more than $500 million to build new jails.

On Monday, Gov. Deval Patrick called for the state's inspector general to investigate probation, building off The Boston Globe's earlier reports of mismanagement and patronage.

-- Here's the Boston Foundation study (Scribd):


This program aired on July 27, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

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