In the 1980s, the Crime and Justice Foundation (CJF) responded to the growing crisis of jail and prison overcrowding in Massachusetts by convening a series of meetings to discuss the causes and consequences of the situation. Based on this forum, CJF demonstrated the viability of some relief mechanisms and lobbied for the adoption of others. The successes of this effort, however, were not enough to stem the tide of overcrowding, which prompted a commitment to the development of community-based sanctions, eventually leading to the birth of day reporting centers in Massachusetts.
The Metropolitan Day Reporting Center (MDRC) is a community corrections program designed to serve offenders from Suffolk and Middlesex counties who live at home while participating in a program of intense structure and supervision. It demonstrates the effective use of an intermediate sanction by providing punishment through restriction of activities; containment through intense supervision and reporting; and rehabilitation through linkages with services to develop social and survival skills. Aiming to better prepare offenders to be self-sufficient and contributing members of society, the program accepts sentenced inmates within three months of release, pre-trial detainees, and women on alternative sentences.
The MDRC has two primary objectives: to provide a safe means of reintegrating offenders to the community; and to reduce the population of correctional facilities. MDRC clients are admitted from the Middlesex County House of Correction, Middlesex County Jail, Suffolk County House of Correction, Suffolk County Jail, MCI Framingham, and Boston Municipal and Suffolk Superior Courts. Once screened at the facility or court, each client participates in the development of a contract that includes an assessment summary, verification of residence and means of support, supervision and reporting schedule, and treatment and activities plan. Approval for participation is granted by the correctional administrator or court. Clients are required to report in person daily, make frequent telephone checks to the center, submit daily itineraries of their whereabouts and activities, be available for random calls or visits from program staff, undergo random drug testing, and perform a minimum of four hours of community service work each week. The staff monitors all client activities and assists with referrals for individual needs such as substance abuse treatment, employment assistance, education, and counseling. The center runs a weekly transition skills group that all clients attend.
Admissions to the program reflect how the MDRC is impacting incarcerated populations in two ways: the affect on overcrowding, and the demonstration that certain offenders can be supervised in the community. During calendar year 1989, the MDRC admitted 171 clients; in 1990, 218 were admitted, an increase of 26 percent. Terminations reflect how well clients are supervised. During 1989, 67 percent successfully completed the program, 29 percent were administratively terminated (for drug use, major contract violations, etc.), and 4 percent failed due to the commission of a new crime or escape. In 1990, 70 percent successfully completed, 26 percent were administratively terminated, and 4 percent failed.
The provision of services to clients is also reflective of efforts to address individual needs and to begin to change the patterns of being in conflict with the law. In 1989, 80 percent were employed full-time, 4 percent part-time and 11 percent on job search; 2 percent were involved in vocational training program; 89 percent performed community service work; and over 80 percent participated in substance abuse treatment. In 1990, 56 percent were employed full-time, 6 percent part-time, and 22 percent on job search; 7 percent were involved in vocational training programs; 81 percent performed community service work; and over 80 percent participated in substance abuse treatment.