Program Goals, Target Population
Hawaii Opportunity Probation with Enforcement (HOPE) is a community supervision strategy for substance-abusing probationers. The main goals of HOPE are to reduce drug use, recidivism, and incarceration. HOPE targets probationers who generally have long histories of drug use and involvement with the criminal justice system and who are considered at high risk of failing probation or returning to prison. HOPE begins with a warning/notification hearing in front of a judge, who makes expectations of compliance clear to the probationer: violation of probation conditions will not be tolerated, and each violation will result in an immediate brief stay in jail.
HOPE was designed with a theoretical foundation that emphasizes clearly defined behavioral expectations for probationers, the use of swift and certain sanctions when probationers fail to comply with those expectations, and elements of procedural justice that make it clear to probationers that courtroom members (probation officers and supervising judges) want them to succeed.
Once an offender is selected to participate in HOPE, they are assigned to a color group that corresponds to a required frequency of drug testing. HOPE probationers are required to call an automated drug testing hotline every morning, and if their color is selected for the day and announced on the hotline, they are required to report to the courthouse for drug testing before 2 p.m. that day. In the beginning, probationers are usually tested at least six times per month (about once a week). Over time, the frequency of drug testing may lessen: probationers are rewarded for compliance, and negative drug tests can result in an assignment of a new color associated with less-frequent testing.
The sanctioning process of HOPE happens quickly. If a probationers’ drug test is positive, they are arrested on the spot and taken to jail. If a probationer fails to appear for a drug test, a bench warrant is issued immediately and served by the police. As soon as a violation is detected, the probation officer completes a “Motion to Modify Probation” form and sends it to the judge. A hearing on the motion is usually held within 72 hours of the filing, with a probationer confined in the interim.
HOPE is different from most diversion and drug court programs in that it does not attempt to impose drug treatment on every probationer. Instead, it relies on a Behavioral Triage Model. Rather than require all probationers to receive drug treatment (even those without substance abuse disorders), an offender’s need for treatment is based on observed behavior signals, such as positive drug tests, rather than through self-reporting. Probationers are sentenced to drug treatment only if they continue to test positive for drug use or if they request a treatment referral.
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Hawken and Kleiman (2009) found statistically significant differences between participants in Hawaii Opportunity Probation with Enforcement (HOPE) and in the comparison group. In terms of the primary outcomes, HOPE participants were 61 percent less likely to skip or miss appointments with probation officers than the comparison group. The HOPE group had an average of only 9 percent no-shows for probation appointments, while the comparison group had 23 percent.
Drug Use and Arrest
In addition, HOPE participants were 72 percent less likely to have a positive urine test compared to the comparison group. Comparison group members had an average of 46 percent positive urinalyses versus 13 percent of HOPE participants. Finally, HOPE participants were 55 percent less likely to be arrested for a new crime. Of comparison group members, 47 percent were arrested, compared to only 21 percent of HOPE participants.
Even with secondary outcomes, HOPE participants showed significantly better outcomes than the comparison group. HOPE participants were 55 percent less likely to have their probation revoked. The revocation rate for HOPE participants was 7 percent; the comparison group had twice that rate (15 percent). HOPE participants also spent an average of 48 percent fewer days incarcerated. They were sentenced on average to 138 days of incarceration while the comparison group had an average of 267 days’ incarceration.