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Public Policy Professor Weighs In on State Probation Program
Since October 2007 Angela Hawken, assistant professor of public policy, and Mark Kleiman, a professor of public policy at UCLA, have been evaluating Hawaii's Opportunity Probation with Enforcement program (HOPE), an experimental rehabilitation program for high-risk convicted drug offenders. They presented their findings in late July among representatives from public policy organizations and state and federal agencies at the Pew Center in Washington, D.C.
The findings proved favorable, showing that HOPE participants were more than twice less likely to miss appointments with their probation officers, test positive for drug use, get arrested, or go to prison than high-risk drug offenders not assigned to the program.
Circuit Judge Steven Alm started the HOPE program in 2004. Participants are tested for drug use at least once a week. If they test positive, fail to show, or refuse to provide a sample, they are arrested immediately and sent to jail following a court hearing within two days. If probationers continue to use drugs, they can be assigned to drug treatment.
Hawken explains that one of the reasons HOPE has been successful where other similar programs have failed is because it does not immediately assign offenders to drug treatment, only those who have proved they are unable to stop drug use on their own.
"Unlike what's happening in many of the other states where, because everybody has to be treated, we end up often seeing everybody gets a little bit of nothing. There aren't enough treatment resources to go around," she says.
Hawken and Kleiman are continuing their evaluation of HOPE, but so far the results look very positive, Hawken says. "A number of states including Arizona and California are looking to implement a similar program." They expect to present a cost-benefit analysis of the program by December.