Today’s Globe has a first-rate Spotlight Team exposé about the extraordinary — mind-boggling, really — level of patronage and hack hiring that has gone on in the probation department since the legislature gave itself control of the operation a decade or so ago. The article is long, detailed, and devastating (and, as David Whelan notes, creates a significant political problem for Tim Cahill, among others).
Problems of this kind in the probation office are not news — CommonWealth Magazine wrote up some of them earlier this year, and there have been others reports as well. Governor Patrick, to his credit, has been way out front on this issue, proposing a smart plan to move probation into the executive branch. At this point, though, it almost doesn’t matter where it moves (others want to move control back into the judiciary). Something desperately needs to happen. Probation is an important office — surely it is a good idea to have competent people managing the office that is responsible for making sure that recently-released prisoners do what they’re supposed to do. It also has come to represent everything that is wrong with state government. If state government can’t fix it, well, that says a lot.
Kudos to the Globe’s Spotlight Team for this outstanding work. This is what a major daily paper should be doing. Here’s hoping they do more of it.