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HOPE for the Criminal Justice System

NCJ Number
The Honorable Steven S. Alm
Date Published
August 2010
3 pages
This article describes Hawaii's new initiative to deal with the problem of probation violations.
This article describes a new approach developed by the Hawaii Judiciary to deal with the increasing problem of probation violations. The program, HOPE (Hawaii's Opportunity Probation with Enforcement) Probation, provides for swift and certain consequences for probation violations, and targets those offenders on probation who are at the highest risk of violating probation: sex offenders, domestic violence offenders, and those offenders with the worst drug problems. Probationers in the program make deals with the court to follow the rules of probation; any violation of probation results in a swift and certain jail term. Probationers with substance abuse problems are subject to random drug tests, with positive tests resulting in immediate arrest and return to jail. Failure to appear for a test, a probation appointment, or treatment will also lead to the immediate issuance of an arrest warrant. In order to ensure success of the program, local law enforcement officials put more resources into the effective issuance of the arrest warrants. An evaluation of the program found that Hope probationers were 55 percent less likely to be arrested for new crimes, 72 percent less likely to use drugs, 61 percent less likely to skip appointments with probation officers, and 53 percent less likely to have their probation revoked. These findings indicate that a positive approach to reducing recidivism among offenders is not with expanding mandatory sentencing and increased punishment, but rather by supporting diversionary programs that help probationers change their lives and stay out of jail.