This paper describes Hawaii's probation program entitled, Hawaii's Opportunity Probation With Enforcement (HOPE), which focuses on "swift and sure punishment" for violations of probation conditions.
Prior to the creation of HOPE, many convicted felons routinely failed to make their appointments with their probation officers, declined to take mandatory drug tests, or took them and failed. Even the worst violators of probation conditions would have to commit many infractions before the police, probation officers, and courts would take action. Under HOPE, on the other hand, violators of probation conditions are arrested. Failing a morning drug test results in immediate arrest, an appearance in court within hours, and a modification in the terms of their supervision to include a short stay in jail. In order to promote ongoing employment, probationers can serve their sentences on a weekend, at least initially. The court ensures that those who need drug treatment, mental health therapy, or other social services attend and complete these programs. Based on the success of the pilot program, the Hawaii Legislature provided the court system with more funding to expand the program. Currently, a full-cost assessment of the fiscal impact of the program is being conducted. Preliminary findings show that a group of methamphetamine-using probationers with records of poor compliance with probation conditions had their rate of missed and "dirty" drug tests decreased by just over 80 percent under HOPE. For 685 probationers who were in the program for at least 3 months, the missed appointment rate fell from 13.3 percent to 2.6 percent, and "dirty" drug tests fell from 49.3 percent to 6.5 percent. The full findings and final report are expected in December 2008.