Commissioner Of Probation – Massachusetts Trial Court

October 4, 2023
Boston, MA
Job Type


Title: Massachusetts Trial Court - Commissioner of Probation

About Massachusetts Probation Service (MPS)

The goal of the Massachusetts Probation Services (MPS) is to keep communities safe and to provide people on probation with the rehabilitative tools they need to live a productive and law-abiding life. MPS is a department of the Massachusetts Trial Court made up of 105 probation departments, 18 community correction centers, the Trial Court Community Service Program, the Electronic Monitoring Center, and the Office of the Commissioner of Probation. MPS partners with local law enforcement and human service agencies to provide a wealth of programs, initiatives, and resources including educational programming, job training and substance abuse counseling. MPS has one of the lowest rates of probation violations in the nation with less than 19 percent of incarcerations resulting in probation violations.

The mission of the agency is to increase community safety, reduce recidivism, contribute to the fair and equitable administration of justice, support victims and survivors, and assist individuals and families in achieving long term positive change. It is at the center in the delivery of justice through investigations, community supervision of, and programming for offenders/litigants, diversion of appropriate offenders from institutional sentences, reduction in crime, dispute intervention, service to victims, and the performance of other community service functions. MPS provides community-based supervision and rehabilitation services through a multi-disciplinary approach to individuals and families involved with the justice system which gives them the tools they need to live a productive and law-abiding life.

The agency collaborates on a regular basis with federal, state, and local police; Parole Board; Sex Offender Registry Board, and state agencies including the Department of Mental Health, Department of Transitional Assistance, Department of Children and Families, and the Department of Youth Services. MPS works closely with the Trial Court's judges, clerks, registers, and external partners to make the best use of resources and technology to accomplish its core mission.

Notes: This position will be posted until filled

As required by statute, Massachusetts residency is required of Trial Court employees. Non-local candidates must be willing to relocate within 6 months if hired.

Commissioner of Probation -- Role Overview

The Massachusetts Trial Court is seeking a highly skilled and experienced executive leader to serve in the role of Commissioner of Probation. The Commissioner of Probation is the executive and administrative head of the office of probation and is responsible for administering and enforcing the laws relative to the office of probation and to each administrative unit of the office. The Commissioner is also skilled in the field of criminal justice, experienced working with elected officials as well as representing the interests of the Massachusetts Probation Service (MPS) to the public.

The Commissioner of Probation (Commissioner) leads oversight and management of the Massachusetts Probation Service offices, initiatives and policies regarding all probation field operations, programs to reduce crime, services for victims and offenders, and employee performance, training, and records maintenance.

The Commissioner also develops and maintains the standards and rules of probation work, including methods and procedures of investigation, mediation, supervision, case work, record keeping, accounting, case load and case management.


  • Oversees and manages the entire Massachusetts Probation Services in coordination and collaboration with the Chief Justice of the Trial Court and the Court Administrator.
  • Manages the Office of the Commissioner of Probation, including the appointment of senior personnel and staff consistent with Trial Court standards.
  • Supervises the probation offices and all probation related programs and works with all the courts of the Commonwealth.
  • Commits to understanding and engaging the full breadth of the Commonwealth's courts, court cultures and staffs.
  • Develops and maintains cutting edge, evidence-based probation programs to minimize probation re-offenders and promote public safety.
  • Manages probation programming according to national standards and best practices using a structured risk assessment tool.
  • Compiles, evaluates and disseminates statistical information on crime, delinquency and appropriate probate and family court matters.
  • Collaborates with other criminal justice state agencies including the Department of Corrections, Department of Public Safety, 14 local sheriff's departments and community-based vendors.
  • Oversees the preparation and administration of the department's budget and submits recommendations to the Court Administrator and Chief Justice of the Trial Court.
  • Responsible for fiscal management and operation of the County probation services.
  • Engages with the legislative branch regarding budgetary matters and programming.
  • Ensures the agency is utilizing data driven, evidence-based supervision and programming.
  • Establishes the standards and rules of probation work, including methods and procedures of investigation, mediation, supervision, case work, record keeping, accounting, case load and case management, and promulgates such rules as approved by the Executive Office of the Trial Court.
  • Establishes all reports and forms to be maintained and the procedures to be followed by Probation Officers, subject to approval by the Court Administrator and Chief Justice of the Trial Court.
  • Collaborates with the Chief Justice of the Trial Court and Court Administrator in developing standards and procedures for the performance evaluations of Probation Officers.
  • Initiates and/or imposes discipline of Probation Officers and other MPS personnel as necessary subject to the approval and direction of the Court Administrator and Chief Justice of the Trial Court.
  • Assesses the needs of Probation Offices and collaborates with the court departments and court divisions first justices on MPS enhancements.
  • Establishes and administers continuing in-service training programs to ensure high-quality service delivery through consistent staff professional training and development.
  • Maintains a system of open communication, enabling awareness of relevant information at all levels; delegates decision-making responsibility at appropriate levels; provides qualitative and quantitative measures of work performance; and ensures accountability.
  • Creates and leads an organization committed to an equitable environment; develops and implements diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies with specific initiatives in organizational infrastructure, hiring, and promoting an inclusive culture.

Knowledge and Skills

  • Extensive knowledge of the criminal justice system and the probation service
  • Experience building and leading teams, leading large multifaceted projects, evaluating organizational impact, re-engineering or creating new organizational models as required.
  • Union management experience along with an understanding of the collective bargaining process is a key skillset.
  • Executive level leader with the skills and vision to advance the Office of the Commissioner of Probation and the services provided by the Office.
  • Understanding of probation in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as well as within varying jurisdictions and legal frameworks.
  • Understanding of Departmental and court policies and procedures, Union contracts and Trial Court policies
  • Experience creating an inclusive organization committed to programs and policies that support diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace and ensures an organizational framework for advancing DEI.
  • Demonstrated experience introducing and implementing mission-aligned innovation organizationally and programmatically.
  • Ability to lead an organization through challenges while inspiring team members to perform at a high level.
  • Ability to direct administrative activities, operational programs, and staff.
  • Ability to analyze problems from a fresh point of view.
  • Possesses strong verbal and written communication and interpersonal skills.
  • Ability to travel to court locations throughout the Commonwealth.



A graduate degree from an accredited college or university is required in the behavioral sciences, law, criminal justice, education, public administration, or organizational management.


10 years of professional work experience in probation, law, corrections, parole, or other criminal justice or human services position directly involved in program design, planning, development, and implementation. A minimum of 5 of those years must be at a senior organizational management level or higher.

Equivalent combinations of education and experience will be considered for meeting the minimum qualification.

Additional Requirements

  • The Commissioner serves a term of 5 years and may be reappointed.
  • Employment is contingent upon passage of a criminal record check for all new hires.
  • Applicants are required to complete a Trial Court online application.

Recruitment Contact

(On behalf of the Massachusetts Trial Court):

Ann Dinshaw

Korn Ferry U.S. Government


Closing Date/Time: 2023-12-31

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