Massachusetts law about sentencing, probation, and parole
Guidelines and reports
Sentencing best practices, Mass. Trial Court, 2016.
Reports of working groups in BMC, District, Juvenile, and Superior Courts, with information regarding the purposes of sentencing and the empirically-based effect of sentences and probationary terms on recidivism.
Sentencing guidelines, Massachusetts Sentencing Commission, 2017.
Master Crime List, Mass. Sentencing Commission.
Lists felonies and misdemeanors first by MGL reference, and then alphabetically by offense, specifying the penalty type and sentencing information. Easiest way to find penalties for particular offenses.
St. 2022, c.126 § 104 Removed the sections requiring probation fees
As of July 1, 2022 there are no longer any monthly probation fees and any fees paid after that date will be refunded.
MGL c.22E, § 3 DNA collection required upon felony conviction; probation officers have authority to take sample
MGL c.27, § 5 Parole Board
MGL c.127, § 119A Medical parole
MGL c.127, § 129D Good time credit for state prison sentences is 7.5 days per program per month
MGL c.127, §§ 151A-151N Interstate Compact for Adult Offender Supervision
MGL c.276, § 58A (1) “The commonwealth may move, based on dangerousness, for an order of pretrial detention…[for a person] arrested and charged with a violation of paragraph (a), (c), or (m) of section 10 of chapter 269 [illegal weapons].”
MGL c.276, §§ 83-103 Probation officers
MGL c.276, § 87B Eligible offenders can earn probation compliance credits that reduce the length of post-disposition probation supervision
MGL c.278, § 18 Continued without a finding, nolo contendere, specific dispositions
MGL c.279 Judgment and execution
MGL c.279, § 25 Habitual offender (3 strikes)
Mass. Criminal Procedure Rule 28 Judgment
Mass. Criminal Procedure Rule 29 Revise and revoke
Mass. Criminal Procedure Rule 31 Stay of execution; relief pending review automatic expiration of stay
Uniform Magistrate Rules: Rule 6: Preliminary probation revocation hearings
- Comprehensive recidivism study, Mass. Sentencing Commission, 2022.
- Massachusetts recidivism study: a closer look at releases and returns to prison, Urban Institute, 2008.
- District Court complaint language manual, Mass. District Court.
Includes suggested language and offense codes used by prosecutors to charge someone with any of approximately 5000 offenses mentioned in the General Laws, Code of Mass. Regulations, and municipal ordinances & by-laws; provides the authorized sentencing range for each offense; and, if the penalty for an offense is derived from a different statute, that statute is referenced.
- Glossary of Massachusetts sentencing terms, Lee J. Gartenberg, 2019.
Glossary of commonly used sentencing terms in Massachusetts.
- Racial disparities in the Massachusetts criminal system, report by the Criminal Justice Policy Program (produced at the request of Chief Justice Ralph Gants), 2020.
- CDC guidance on management of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in correctional and detention facilities, May 11, 2023.
Probation and parole
- About probation, Mass. Probation Service.
A probation sentence, sometimes called community supervision, gives you the opportunity to stay in the community, work, and be with your family and friends with specific conditions instead of being sentenced to prison or the house of correction. A probation officer will be assigned to help and monitor you during your time on probation.
- Adult Compact version 2, Council of State Governments.
Concise article explaining the interstate compact for tracking and supervising parolees and probationers that move between states.
- ELMO (Electronic Monitoring Program) information, Mass. Probation Service.
Find out how the Global Positioning System (GPS) devices and remote breath alcohol monitoring devices used for probation work.
- Interstate Compact for Adult Offender Supervision
Site includes rules, bylaws, advisory opinions, bench book for judges and court personnel, forms, and more. Everything you need to know to transfer supervision to another state.
- Parole records and hearings, Parole Board.
Find information about parole hearings and life sentence parole hearings.
- Surveys of Massachusetts sentencing practices, Massachusetts Sentencing Commission.
Pardon and commutation
- Executive clemency guidelines, Gov. Baker, 2020.
Provides guidance on the requirements to be considered for a pardon or commutation, with emphasis on key points of interest to the Advisory Board of Pardons.
- Executive clemency overview, Mass. Parole Board.
Explains the difference between pardon and commutation, with guidelines and petitions.
- Massachusetts restoration of rights & record relief, Restoration of Rights Project, 2022.
Provides a detailed summary of law and procedure on pardons, firearms and expungement under new marijuana law.
Criminal law, 3rd ed., (Mass. practice v.32), West Pub Co., 2001 with supplement.
LexisNexis practice guide: Massachusetts criminal law, Lexis, annual. Chapters 8, 9, 10.
Sentencing, probation and parole, MCLE, 2018.
Standards of the Massachusetts Probation Service, Probation Service, 2011.