Massachusetts is steeped in history, and its approach to juvenile corrections is no exception. The first reform school for youth offenders called the Massachusetts State Reform School was built in 1846 in Westborough, Mass. It housed 400 male offenders under the age of 18. Then in 1860, Massachusetts built another facility called the Lyman School for Boys in Westborough. The idea was that youth offenders may be easier to rehabilitate than adults and therefore needed their own facilities with specific programs designed around re-education rather than punishment. A lot has changed since those early days, and programs and services have evolved to be a lot more community-oriented and cooperative among various resources and agencies.
The Massachusetts Department of Youth Services (DYS) and Commissioner, Peter Forbes are the ones overseeing all youth offender facilities and in charge of maintaining all Massachusetts juvenile inmate records. Performing a Massachusetts juvenile detention center inmate search online is not possible because juvenile records are kept sealed until the person is an adult. The offender then has the option of applying for expungement so their records may never be made public. The DYS’s mission states: “Our mission is to make communities safer by improving the life outcomes for youth in our care. We achieve our mission through investing in highly qualified staff and a service continuum that engages youth, families, and communities in strategies that support positive youth development.”
There are six juvenile detention facilities in the state of Massachusetts now. They are run and operated by the DYS and the Governor for the state. The current administration is committed to ensuring that low-risk youth offenders remain in the community and receive support rather than confinement. For more severe cases, confinement is necessary, and juveniles will be placed in one of the following locations:
There are roughly 650 youth offenders in juvenile detention in Massachusetts. The most significant number of them (44%) are Hispanic, 27% are Black, 25% are White, and the rest are other races. The majority are age 17, with another 110+ between the ages of 15–16. Eighty-seven percent are male, and the rest are female. Most have committed nonviolent crimes like drug or alcohol charges or breaking and entering. Some have committed assault, robbery, carjacking, or murder.