DeLeo Proposes Probation Hiring Overhaul

House Speaker Robert DeLeo on Tuesday outlined legislation for reforming the state's troubled Probation Department.

Speaking before the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, DeLeo said he wants to limit lawmakers' influence over the department, which is now under state and federal investigations.

His measure would require all applicants for probation jobs to pass an exam before they can advance to the interview process.

DeLeo is proposing that recommendation letters for Probation Department job candidates be shielded until a candidate reaches the final stage of the hiring process, and that every time a politician recommends someone for a probation job, it be done in writing.

"I see it as necessary. I think it's important that we send a message to the people of the commonwealth that we hear their concerns," he said. "To make the process even more transparent is the fact that if you have a candidate who is successful in obtaining employment, then all the letters of recommendation will be made public."

DeLeo wrote a letter of recommendation for his godson, who became the youngest probation officer in the state.

Differing with the governor, DeLeo said his bill would keep the Probation Department under the judiciary. Gov. Deval Patrick has recommended merging Probation with the Parole Department under the executive branch.

The speaker suggests hiring a civilian court administrator to handle the business aspects of the court. Currently, the chief administrative judge handles that.

-- Here's DeLeo's complete address (on Scribd):

With reporting from the WBUR Newsroom and The Associated Press.

This program aired on March 15, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.


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