Providing swift and certain consequences results in more positive outcomes among probationers, according to the results of a randomized controlled trial of the Hawaii’s Opportunity Probation with Enforcement (HOPE) program.
Piloted in 2004 by Judge Steven Alm, the HOPE program is a high-intensity supervision program in which probationers receive swift, predictable, and immediate sanctions for each detected violation.*
The evaluation found that compared to a control group of probationers receiving probation-as-usual, HOPE probationers were less likely to be arrested for a new crime, use drugs, miss appointments with their probation officer, or have their probation revoked (see figure below).
According to Judge Alm, “this is not a miracle—any probation department in the country can do this with the right leadership, strong management, appropriate resources, technical assistance and rigorous performance tracking.”1
The Honest Opportunity Probation with Enforcement (HOPE) Initiative Act of 2009 (HR 4055), which would authorize a national grant program to establish probation programs similar to Hawaii’s HOPE program, is currently being considered by a House Judiciary Subcommittee. Dr. Robert DuPont will present findings from the HOPE program at an upcoming one-day symposium at the University of Maryland (see box below).
*HOPE probationers are required to call into a hotline every weekday morning to find out if they have been randomly selected to take a drug test that day. If probationers test positive, they are arrested immediately. If they fail to appear for the test or violate other terms of their probation (e.g., missing a scheduled probation appointment), warrants for their arrest are issued immediately. Once apprehended, a probation modification hearing is held two days later. Violators are typically sentenced to a short jail term, with jail time increasing for subsequent violations. Repeat offenders may be mandated into residential treatment.
1Alm, Steven S., Testimony before the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, May 11, 2010. Available online at http://judiciary.house.gov/hearings/pdf/Alm100511.pdf. SOURCE: Adapted by CESAR from Hawken, A. and Kleiman, M., Managing Drug Involved Probationers with Swift and Certain Sanctions: Evaluating Hawaii’s HOPE, Appendix 3 – Summary of Results of the Randomized Controlled Trial of HOPE, U.S. Department of Justice, 2009. Available online at http://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/229023.pdf. The randomized controlled trial was conducted by Pepperdine University, with support from the Smith Richardson Foundation and the National Institute or Justice.