Approximately Enforcement) project has immediate consequences. Judge Alm

Approximately 95 percent
of the offenders sent to prison will eventually return to the community. Some
will be released early with parole, some of them for time served or good
behavior, and some will be released on the turnover of a wrongful conviction. Some
offenders have luck on their side and will be placed on probation, a form of
conditional release. Probation has been part of the criminal justice system for
a long time and is found in every state. However, probation has not been as
successful as it was originally hoped to be. Approximately one-third of
offenders placed on probation will be back in prison or will fail to show at
their probation appointment putting them in a position for their probation to
be revoked.

            An offender on probation “lives outside a prison’s walls
but is technically and legally under the control of the government, subject to
numerous restrictions and to the supervision of a probation officer and the
sentencing court.” (Larkin) While on probation an offender must not commit any
other crimes, must have and keep a job, must pay any fines and restitution, and
must meet with his probation officer monthly. If any of these conditions are
violated, the probation officer can revoke probation. The idea is that a
probationer, out of fear for being sent back to prison would comply with the
conditions.

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            Probation officers are often carrying heavy caseloads,
and the work to establish a case for revocation is time consuming, this often
leads to probation officers letting offenders get away with multiple offenses. “For
example, Probationers who do not show up for monthly meetings can be arrested,
but local police departments treat bench warrants as a very low priority”
(Larkin).

            “Steven Alm, a state court judge in Honolulu, Hawaii,
devised a novel approach to probation accountability” (Larkin) The HOPE (Hawaii
Opportunity Probation with Enforcement) project has immediate consequences.
Judge Alm concluded that like young children, people respond better to swift,
certain, and consistent punishment. Too often judges were giving offenders
orders but they were not given any consequences for when the orders were not
followed. Many offenders began to see the judges handing down idle threats.
They knew that is was going to take dozens of warnings before anything would
happen.

            Judge Alm believed that immediate punishment was the
answer, disruption to their lives was going to get their attention and make
them follow through. The HOPE project was simple, offenders were given conditions
of their probation and if these conditions were not met, Judge Alm would have
them back in court immediately.

Methamphetamine
use is connected to many of the crimes in Hawaii so Judge Alm used a small
group, 34 people, that were convicted of non-violent drug crimes for his first HOPE
project. Offenders were assigned a color and a number, and required to call a
hotline every morning. If your color and number was picked, you had to submit
to a drug test by 2:00pm the same day. Those testing positive for drug use were
given an immediate sentence in jail for a few days up to one week. Alm felt
that the swift punishment would disrupt their lives enough to be a deterrent. Alm
also believed in offenders taking accountability for their actions. If an
offender missed an appointment with his or her probation officer, an immediate
jail sentence was given but if the offender took responsibility, it would be
only a few days in jail.

The
HOPE project has been successful. According to the report the National
Institute of Justice conducted five years after the start of HOPE offenders are
55% less likely to be arrested for a new crime, 53% less likely to have
probation revoked, 48% fewer days in prison, 61% less likely to skip appointment
with their probation officers and 72% less likely to use drugs. The success of
HOPE caught the attention of others and 17 other states have modeled probation
programs after HOPE. “Swift and certain” punishment for violating
terms of probation sends a consistent message to probationers about personal
responsibility and accountability.

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