Court and Community News

Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020
Courts receive $6 million federal award to expand connections to behavioral health treatment, sober housing and transportation; Job opening at the Massachusetts Civil Service Commission


Courts receive $6 million federal award to expand connections to behavioral health treatment, sober housing and transportation

Trial Court Chief Justice Paula Carey, Trial Court Administrator Jonathan Williams and Probation Commissioner Edward Dolan announced this week that the Trial Court has received its largest federal grant ever — a $6 million award from the Department of Justice to expand court-based connections for individuals at risk of overdose in 12 local courts that serve 62 communities. 

The Massachusetts Trial Court is one of 11 states and the only court system to receive one of the $6 million awards based on its submission to the federal COSSAP (Comprehensive Opiate, Stimulant and Substance Abuse Program) funding opportunity. The courts will connect at-risk individuals to behavioral health treatment, sober housing, and transportation services.
Project NORTH (Navigation Outreach Recovery Treatment and Hope) will offer enhanced services in courthouses located in 12 communities highly impacted by overdose deaths: Boston, Brockton, Fall River, Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn, New Bedford, Pittsfield, Quincy, Springfield, Taunton and Worcester. The courts in these communities serve 2.7 million people in 62 municipalities across nine counties. 

Project NORTH will provide court-based assistance to link court users to treatment and recovery support services, transportation to treatment and court-mandated programming, and up to six months of sober housing for 300 probationers over two years. The need for these services is consistently identified as a top priority at Community Justice Workshops, led by the Trial Court, together with community members and service providers across the state. Judges, probation officers and clinical staff at specialty courts also underscore these service needs.  

Data show that the Project NORTH communities are disproportionately impacted by substance use disorder, when compared with communities statewide. These 12 communities represent 26% of the state population but account for 38% of fatal overdoses, 50% of opioid-related EMS incidents, 46% of admissions for substance use disorder treatment, and 49% of treatment admissions among people who report opioids as their primary drug of choice. 

Partners on this initiative include the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, Department of Public Health: Bureau of Substance Addiction Services, Department of Mental Health, and the Massachusetts Alliance for Sober Housing. Project NORTH will be co-directed by Marisa Hebble, community justice project manager in the Executive Office of the Trial Court, and Michael Coelho, deputy commissioner for programs for the Massachusetts Probation Service. 


Job Opening

General Counsel at Massachusetts Civil Service Commission

The Massachusetts Civil Service Commission is a quasi-judicial appellate board whose mission is to ensure that public employment decisions are made based on merit, free of any personal or political bias. Interested in a career opportunity? Apply for the commission's general counsel opening. Click here to learn more.

The commission hears and decides appeals by persons including, but not limited to:  permanent, tenured civil service employees appealing a disciplinary action by a state agency or city or town; candidates bypassed for appointment or promotion to a state or local civil service position; civil service exam applicants contesting their examination results; and state employees seeking to be reclassified. Approximately 200-250 are received annually.  

Individual members of the commission, pursuant to Chapter 31 of the General Laws and the Standard Adjudicatory Rules of Practice and Procedure (801 CMR 1.01 et seq.), conduct hearings and then draft decisions for review by the full, five-member commission. Commission decisions are subject to judicial review under G.L. c. 30A.

Consistent with COVID-19 protocols, most commission business is currently being conducted remotely and employees are working remotely.