Evaluation of HOPE Probation
Preliminary findings show that probationers assigned to a HOPE caseload perform significantly better than criminal offenders assigned to probation-as-usual.
Convicted drug-possession offenders are rarely given straight jail time. In most jurisdictions they are placed on probation. This places probation departments on the front lines of the struggle to reduce drug-related crime and drug abuse by offenders, but they face a tremendous challenge given resource restrictions and heavy case-loads. Rather than consistently sanctioning probation violations, probation officers and courts typically allow repeated violations to go unpunished. When punishments are meted out, they tend to be lengthy and costly jail terms.
There are strong theoretical reasons to think that a probation system that consistently and swiftly punishes probation violations and uses mild rather than drastic sanctions would be more effective in inducing behavioral changes than the current much more haphazard system. A structured sanctions model in Hawaii has dramatically improved probationer compliance without draining department resources. The program, called Hawaii's Opportunity Probation with Enforcement (HOPE), was first launched by Judge Steven Alm in 2004.