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Evaluation of the Honest Opportunity Probation With Enforcement Demonstration Field Experiment (HOPE DFE)

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Awardee County
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2011, $2,499,944)

The proposed research is an evaluation of the Honest Opportunity Probation with Enforcement (HOPE) program. This examination will occur through a rigorous Random Controlled Trial (RCT) in up to four (4) demonstration sites. At each site, 400 probationers will be randomly assigned to either the HOPE condition or Probation as Usual (PAU) for a total sample size of 1,600 probationers. This evaluation will focus on (1) an evaluation of HOPE implementation and program fidelity at the individual sites, (2) determining the effects of HOPE on outcomes through a rigorous outcome evaluation, and (3) an assessment of HOPE cost-effectiveness through a detailed economic analysis. Each of these will be described in detail below.

(1) A detailed cross-site HOPE protocol will be developed to assess implementation fidelity and lessons learned for replication and sustainability. Measures will be collected through stakeholder interviews, observations of court warning and violation hearings, and a review of court, probation, and HOPE project records. The PAU practices will also be assessed to provide a measure of any changes in practices among the control group to identify potential contamination.

(2) The outcome study will incorporate administrative data on appointment compliance, drug tests results, re-arrests, violations, revocations, and jail and prison days; interview data will be collected at study enrollment and six (6) months post-enrollment on measures that will facilitate understanding of the nature of individual change associated with HOPE. Quantitative analysis will be done in stages. First descriptive statistics followed by mixed effects analyses of variance to estimate random effects at the site level and fixed effects for HOPE compared to PAU. If preliminary analyses suggest site effects, then multiple-group methods will be used to estimate HOPE program effects within each site. If these analyses indicate probation officer effects then multilevel models will be used to analyze clustered data.

The evaluators will also conduct random drug tests on a subsample of HOPE and PAU probationers using oral swabs to provide a common measure of current drug use. HOPE probationers will also respond to periodic questionnaires during their daily call-in. These mini interviews will assess changes in attitudes over time in an intensive longitudinal design (ILD) using a growth curve and nonlinear dynamical systems.

(3) Process and outcome data will be combined with cost data to assess cost-effectiveness. The cost-effectiveness assessment will identify start-up costs, differential cost and savings impact per participating agencies, and the cost-effectiveness of HOPE for achieving desired non-monetized outcomes.

RTI International, in cooperation with the Pennsylvania State University (PSU),proposes to extend the ongoing HOPE DFE Evaluation from the current 42-month period of performance(October 1, 2011March 31, 2015) to 54 months (October 1, 2011March 31, 2016). This extension will support evaluation of four HOPE DFE sites funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance to provide a rigorous, independent test of HOPEs capacity to yield reductions in appointment noshows,positive drug tests, rearrests, revocations, and jail and prison days.
Research Goals and Objectives: The DFE is (1) evaluating implementation and fidelity
through a comprehensive process evaluation, (2) determining the effects of HOPE on outcomes through a rigorous outcome evaluation, and (3) assessing HOPE cost-effectiveness through a detailed economic analysis.

HOPE evaluation results will inform policy and practice on the effect of swift and certain punishments on drug use and arrests and will identify lessons for replication and sustainability.

Subjects: Approximately 400 medium- and high-risk probationers in each of four sites who have been randomly assigned to either the HOPE program or to probation as usual (PAU).

Research Design and Methods: The evaluation consists of a randomized controlled trial
(RCT) in which 400 HOPE-eligible probationers are being randomly assigned to HOPE or PAU in each of the four sites. Random assignment began in August 2012 (three sites) and October 2012 (one site) and has continued far past the 9-month enrollment period anticipated in our original
proposal because of limited case flow in the sites. This supplemental request will provide funds to continue enrollment until the target sample size of 400 is achieved or through September 30, 2014.

The cross-site HOPE protocol includes (1) assessing implementation fidelity and lessons learned (stakeholder interviews; warning hearing and court observation; and review of court, probation, and HOPE project records) and documenting PAU practices; (2) acquiring and processing administrative data on outcomes; (3) collecting interview data at study enrollment and at 6 and 12 months after enrollment on measures to facilitate understanding of individual change; (4) conducting random drug tests at follow-up; (5) enrolling subjects in a study component in which they call in twice weekly to respond to questions that will allow us to assess changes in attitudes; and (6) combining process, outcome, and cost data to assess cost-effectiveness.

Analyses: Mixed-effects analyses of variance and growth curve modeling.

Products, Reports, and Data Archiving: Practitioner- and research-focused research
briefs, manuscripts, conference presentations, final report, and documented data sets.

Date Created: September 19, 2011