Indeed, the people who deal with probationers every day – judges and probation officers – have spoken strongly against moving Probation out of the judicial branch.
Irrelevant. Of course judges don’t want probation moved to the executive branch – it means less power for them. That is not a good argument, and it has nothing to do with solving the problems that everyone realizes need to be fixed. Same goes for the probation officers, all of whom by definition got their jobs under the current system.
The judiciary is fully capable of addressing the leadership issues identified in the Ware report….
Unsupported assertion. Sadly, the judiciary seems to have proven precisely the opposite of Ireland’s claim. And Ireland’s evidence – that there is a new commissioner, and that a panel is recommending reforms – simply does not demonstrate that the judiciary is up to the task of managing probation over the long term. History suggests that it’s not.
[C]alls to move the department out of the judicial branch … while well-intentioned, will not serve the public’s needs.
Placing Probation in the executive branch would make probation secondary to institutional corrections, which focuses on parole and prisoner re-entry…. Placing Probation within the executive branch is likely to siphon probation resources into corrections and parole initiatives, at great cost to taxpayers, and to the detriment of probationers.
Unsupported assertion. Ireland is saying what he thinks would happen, but he supplies no basis for it. Sure, it’s possible that probation would be secondary if moved to the executive branch. But it’s also possible that probation would be made a priority; in fact, that seems likely, since the transfer would be a major Patrick administration initiative that they would very much want to succeed.
And probation officers’ priorities would be subject to political and other extra-judicial pressures, as has happened in other states.
Unsupported assertion. Additional penalty for unintentional hilarity. Ireland of course cannot know what would happen in the event that probation is transferred to the executive branch, and his vague assertion to what “has happened in other states” is not good enough. Furthermore, one of the most appalling findings of the Ware Report was the extensive indications of meddling in probation hiring from the legislature while the judiciary was supposedly in charge, which would certainly qualify as “political and other extra-judicial pressures.” Awkward.
[C]alls … to institute a civil service system for Probation, while well-intentioned, will not serve the public’s needs….
Instituting a civil service system at the Probation Department is also problematic. Under the civil service structure, it is extraordinarily difficult to hire the best people or dismiss or demote under-performing individuals.
Unsupported assertion. Additional penalty for unintentional hilarity. Here, Ireland trashes the entire civil service system while supplying no backup at all for his extremely broad claim. In addition, of course, his concern that it’s hard to “hire the best people” or “demote under-performing individuals” under civil service rings especially hollow in light of what has been going on in probation for the last several years, under the supervision of the judiciary.
For 130 years, the Probation Department has been housed within the judicial branch. The close working partnership between judges and probation officers has kept the public safe while providing cost-effective administration of criminal justice.
Unsupported assertion. The Ware Report strongly suggests that, at the very least, the current system has not done a great job with “cost-effective administration of justice.”
There may well be good reasons to keep probation within the judiciary, and it’s certainly a debate worth having. Unfortunately, Chief Justice Ireland didn’t supply any today.