Massachusetts is one of the first states in the country to eliminate probation fees, according to EXiT (Executives Transforming Probation and Parole) of which Massachusetts Probation Commissioner Edward Dolan is a member.

EXiT’s goal is to reduce the number of people who are on probation supervision and whose probation violations result in jail time. Oregon and California eliminated probation fees in 2020.

Governor Charlie Baker signed the Massachusetts Probation Service’s Fiscal Year 2023 budget on July 28 which included a provision to eliminate probation fees and victim services surcharges. Prior to the provision, Massachusetts Probation fees included a monthly cost that ranged from $50-$65. Massachusetts Trial Court Chief Justice Jeffrey Locke issued an administrative order remitting all Probation fees for July 2022 and after.

“The elimination of Probation fees removes a significant barrier to effective, evidenced based probation practice for many on our caseload. It further reduces the stress that mounting financial insecurity can bring,” said Probation Commissioner Edward Dolan. “I believe this action by the Governor and the support from the Legislature helps promote fairness, furthers efforts at rehabilitation and will, ultimately, reduce recidivism.”

“This is really good news. Paying those fees are a burden especially when you’re struggling to just stay afloat. if you don’t pay them you can be violated. It’s good not to have this hanging over your head,” said John D., a probationer who asked that his last name not be used.

Working groups launched by the Massachusetts Trial Court and Boston Bar Association in 2016 and 2017 examined the issue and advocated for the state to end fees. The groups’ determined that “Probation Officers should be allowed to focus on helping those under their supervision succeed, not on collecting money from them.”