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Managing Drug Involved Probationers with Swift and Certain Sanctions: Evaluating Hawaii's HOPE

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 2009
67 pages
This report describes an evaluation of a community supervision strategy for substance-abusing probationers called Hawaii Opportunity Probation with Enforcement (HOPE), which began as a pilot program in October 2004 and has expanded to more than 1,500 participants (approximately 1 out of 6 felony probationers in Oahu).

The evaluation found that HOPE's goals - reductions in drug use, new crimes, and incarceration - have been achieved, both in the initial pilot program among high-risk probationers and in the randomized controlled trial among general-population probationers. Compared to probationers assigned to probation-as-usual, probationers assigned to HOPE had large reductions in positive drug tests and missed appointments, and they were significantly less likely to be arrested during follow-up at 3 months, 6 months, and 12 months. HOPE probationers averaged approximately the same number of days in jail for probation violations, serving more but shorter terms than those assigned to probation-as-usual. HOPE participants spent approximately one-third as many days in prison on revocations or new convictions. The core feature of HOPE was a mandate to abstain from illicit drugs, with lapses met with swift and certain sanctions preceded by a clear and direct warning. Unlike most diversion programs and drug courts, HOPE does not attempt to impose drug treatment on every participant. Probationers are sentenced to drug treatment only if they continue to test positive for drug use, or if they request a treatment referral. HOPE is distinct from drug courts in using treatment and court resources efficiently, with probationers appearing before a judge only when a violation is detected. The process evaluation found that HOPE was implemented largely as intended. Sanctions were delivered swiftly and with certainty. The evaluation focused on 940 HOPE participants and 77 probationers assigned to probation-as-usual. 2 tables, 14 figures, 24 references, and appended supplementary tables, example of a warning hearing, and summary of results of the randomized controlled trial of HOPE

Date Published: December 1, 2009