Individuals who have a criminal record and are not currently incarcerated may also petition for clemency in the form of a pardon. The granting of a pardon relieves the individual of the barriers associated with a criminal record. Pardon requests follow a similar procedure as a commutation petition. Hearings held for pardon requests are public and victims and their families are allowed to attend and testify.
Pardon Proceedings Involving Juveniles
Department of Youth Services
27 Wormwood Street, Suite 400
Boston, MA 02210-1613
The Department of Youth Services is the state’s juvenile justice agency. Its mission is to protect the public and prevent crime by promoting positive change in the lives of youth committed to its custody, and by partnering with communities, families, and government and provider agencies toward this end.
The Massachusetts Victim Bill of Rights mandates that victims of crimes committed by juveniles or youthful offenders be notified by the custodial authority, upon request, whenever the juvenile is transferred from a secure facility to less secure facility, receives a temporary, provisional or final release from custody, or escapes. If the offender is adjudicated in court and committed as a juvenile, an application for Juvenile Offender Notification and Information is filed with the DYS Victim Services Unit. If the offender is adjudicated in court and committed as a youthful offender, as described in detail in Chapter Three, an application for Notice of an Offender’s Release is filed with the Criminal History and Systems Board Victim Services Unit. Once certified, the DYS Victim Services Unit provides verbal and written notification of changes in the juvenile’s status or placement. Beyond this basic mandate, DYS has discretion over the release of all other information and evaluates information requests on a case by case basis.
If a juvenile is adjudicated and committed to DYS, the Department retains authority (physical custody) over the juvenile until age 18. If a juvenile is committed as youthful offender, The Department of Youth Services retains authority over the juvenile until age 21. In both instances, DYS uses a “continuum of care” model of services and supervision. The continuum consists of 93 programs, including 62 facilities, ranging from staff secure group homes to highly secure locked units, and 29 programs to serve youth living in the community. DYS divides the state geographically into five regions; Central, Metropolitan, Northeast, Southeast and Western. Each region operates its own continuum of services and supervision.
The difficulties victims often face in obtaining information about an offender in the adult system can be magnified for victims dealing with the juvenile justice system. This is due in large part to the fact that the juvenile justice system protects a juvenile offender’s legal right to confidentiality. Also, juvenile records can be sealed if the offender has had no further record three years after release from supervision. If the juvenile is prosecuted as a youthful offender, the process for obtaining criminal offender record information (CORI) through the Criminal History Systems Board is the same as it is for adults because the offender is treated as an adult for purposes of prosecution.