The Closing of the Massachusetts Reform Schools and the Legacy of Jerome Miller

On January 15, 1972, a caravan of 100 cars drove onto the grounds of the Lyman Reform School in Westborough, Mass. and stopped at the school’s administration building. Jerome Miller, the director of the state’s Department of Youth Services (DYS), emerged from the lead car and walked into the administration building to announce that the few remaining youths were being removed and that the 125-year-old institution was to close. Over the next year a similar exercise was carried out at the state’s other three reform schools. By the time it was over, Miller had carried out the most remarkable reforms in the history of the juvenile justice system by abolishing the state’s 19th century era reform schools.

Daniel Macallair: A Fond Farewell to Allen Breed

When Allen Breed was appointed director of the California Youth Authority (CYA) in 1968 by Gov. Ronald Reagan, he assumed responsibility for an agency that was considered a national model for providing rehabilitation to youth in its custody – a reputation he helped sow. Prior to his appointment as CYA director, Breed served as superintendent of the Preston School of Industry, one of the nation’s largest and oldest reform schools.  It was here that he led efforts to humanize care in an institution that was notorious for violence and brutality, by introducing new treatment techniques and organizational management. Having established a record for creative and innovative leadership, Breed was selected to continue the agency’s legacy by promoting concepts of institutional rehabilitation. In an industry where leaders too often act as apologists for long established, but failed practices, Allen Breed became one of the CYA’s harshest critics. Despite spending an entire career with the CYA, when Breed ascended to the role of CYA director, he began to challenge the efficacy of the very practices he once promoted.  Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, the CYA instituted new practices such as group counseling which later proved ineffective within the culture of violence that pervaded CYA institutions.