In 1996, Massachusetts's youth population under age 18 was approximately 1,421,900 (Casey Foundation 1998).
In 1995, approximately 6 percent of the State's children were living in families with incomes below 50 percent of the poverty level. In addition, in 1995, an estimated 11 percent of Massachusetts's children under age 13 were living in working-poor families or families where at least one parent was working 50 or more hours a week but the family's income was still below the poverty level (Casey Foundation 1998).
Massachusetts ranked 7th in the country in terms of teen birth rate for 1995. The birth rate for 1995 was 22 births per 1,000 young women ages 15-17. This represents a decrease from 31.2 births per 1,000 in 1994 (Casey Foundation 1998).
During the 1996-97 school year, approximately 8,453 students dropped out of Massachusetts high schools, representing 3.4 percent of youth in grades 9-12 (Massachusetts Department of Education 1998).
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Uniform Crime Reports' data, a total of 2,597 juveniles were arrested for violent crime in Massachusetts in 1996 (Federal Bureau of Investigation 1997).
In FY 1997, the Massachusetts Administrative Office of the Trial Court reported 13,832 juveniles under probation supervision. Juvenile probation surrenders showed a 28 percent increase over the prior year. Most juvenile surrenders, 36 percent, were for new criminal charges, as opposed to a surrender for a technical violation, 23 percent (Massachusetts Administrative Office of the Court 1998).
Overview of the Juvenile Justice System
Massachusetts has 69 divisions of the District Court Department and 11 divisions of the Juvenile Court Department, which oversee juvenile cases. The increase in juvenile court divisions from 4 to 11 is because of a legislatively mandated statewide expansion of the Juvenile Court Department. The Office of the Commissioner of Probation serves as an arm of the judiciary and a department of the Trial Court. It contains two levels of operation for juvenile offenders; administrative probation and risk/need probation (Massachusetts Committee on Criminal Justice 1998).
The Department of Youth Services (DYS) is the State agency responsible for court-ordered care and custody of youth involved in delinquency proceedings. This involves monitoring in-home supervision, group residential care, and secure care programs (Massachusetts Committee on Criminal Justice 1994, p. 7). The State currently operates two secure treatment programs for females with a total of 30 beds and four secure detention programs for females with 79 available beds (Massachusetts Committee on Criminal Justice 1998).
The Formula Grants Program is housed within the Massachusetts Committee on Criminal Justice.
Offense Patterns and Processing of Juvenile Female Offenders
The following statistics provide an overview of female offending and processing patterns in Massachusetts:
Approach to Female Offenders
Using Challenge Activity funds, Massachusetts developed the following specific objectives to address the needs of the State's female juvenile offenders:
As a step in achieving these objectives, two DYS Challenge programs specifically address the needs of females. The first objective, Educational and Vocational Services for Female Youth, offered in all seven DYS girls' programs, helps female youth successfully reintegrate into the community by providing them with improved educational and vocational opportunities. The mathematics curriculum specifically emphasizes problem-solving and decisionmaking skills. A literature-based reading and health program addresses issues of self-image, violence, victimization, substance abuse, pregnancy, and parenthood. Vocational educational services have been expanded for females placed at DYS's long-term treatment program for female juvenile offenders. Career exploration and planning for females based on assessed vocational needs and interests are offered. The second program, A New Beginning, provides alternatives to crime for girls committed to DYS in the Metro-Boston area. The primary goal is to break the cycle of dependence on social service agencies by placing the girls in job opportunities within the business community. In preparation for employment, life skills are developed that allow girls to become integrated into the business community in which they live.
In addition, a survey questionnaire was administered to staff throughout the juvenile justice system and interested parties from the public. This information was then summarized and consolidated into a report that was submitted to the DYS. For information on receiving a copy of this report, see Appendix B, Available State Products.
Specific recommendations were also created concerning the development of staff training programs and the development of actual treatment programs for this population. These recommendations were made directly to the appropriate agency heads within the DYS.
In addition, the State has hired four external consultants to continue data collection on this population in order to complete a program directory of resources available for young women in the State (Massachusetts Committee on Criminal Justice 1996, pp. 2-3).
Annie E. Casey Foundation. 1998. KIDS COUNT Online Database. Annie E. Casey Foundation, Baltimore, MD.
Federal Bureau of Investigation. 1997. Uniform Crime Reports for the United States 1996. Washington, DC.
Massachusetts Administrative Office of the Court. 1998. Annual Report on the State of the Massachusetts Court System, FY 1997. Massachusetts Administrative Office of the Courts, Boston, MA.
Massachusetts Committee on Criminal Justice. 1994. Massachusetts FY 1994 Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act Formula Grant Application and Three Year Plan. Submitted to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Washington, DC.
Massachusetts Committee on Criminal Justice. 1995. Massachusetts 1995 Challenge Activity E Grant Application. Submitted to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Washington, DC.
Massachusetts Committee on Criminal Justice. 1997. Compliance Monitoring Manual. Boston, MA.
Massachusetts Committee on Criminal Justice. 1998. Massachusetts FY 1997 Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act Formula Grant Application and Three Year Plan, 1998 Update. Boston, MA.
Massachusetts Department of Education. 1998. Dropout Rates in Massachusetts Public Schools: 1996-1997. Malden, MA.
Massachusetts Department of Youth Services, Bureau of Planning, Research and Systems. 1997. Descriptive Analysis of the Department's Committed Population as of July 1, 1996. Boston, MA.
Massachusetts Kids Count. 1996. State of the Child 1996. Boston, MA.
Massachusetts Office of the Commissioner of Probation, Research and Planning Department. 1997. New Juvenile Risk/Need Probationer Characteristics. Boston, MA.