Mass. Court Overhauls Probation Department Hiring

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court is unveiling changes to the state Probation Department it says will guarantee "a fair system with transparent procedures" for hiring and promoting department employees.

The new hiring and promotion practices require a complete reorganization of the human resources and recruiting functions of the department so that decisions are based on merit.

Under the new rules, recommendations from public officials and others will be kept out of the hiring and promotion process until finalists have been selected and references are being checked.

The changes were all recommended by a court-appointed task force following the release of an investigation last year that pointed to an apparent understanding between certain legislators and former Probation Commissioner John O'Brien that generous appropriations for the department were linked to his willingness to hire applicants recommended by the lawmakers.

O'Brien has resigned but denies any wrongdoing.

Material from the WBUR Newsroom and the Associated Press.

This program aired on February 24, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.


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