Monday, May 24, 2010

GOP Caucus Pushes Probation Reforms

The Senate Republican Caucus is calling for the adoption of a pair of budget amendments members filed last Friday to end the "pay to play" system of patronage within the state's probation system. The Caucus amendments would restore much-needed oversight, transparency and credibility to the Probation Department, which was the subject of a Boston Globe Spotlight report that ran in the newspaper yesterday and today.

The Globe series details the ongoing problems that have taken place since the Legislature took away the Trial Court's control over personnel decisions within the Probation Department and transferred this authority to the Commissioner of Probation back in 2001. In addition to exposing a system where hiring and promotion decisions appear to be driven more by political connections and campaign contributions than to actual job qualifications, the Globe also highlighted the department's "sloppy financial oversight" which it warns makes the department "vulnerable to theft".

Earlier today, Probation Commissioner John J. O'Brien was suspended, with Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall and Judge Robert A. Mulligan promising "a full, prompt and independent inquiry" into the allegations.

The Senate is scheduled to begin debate on the budget Wednesday morning.