Pubdate: Wed, 23 Sep 2009
Source: Honolulu Advertiser (HI)
Copyright: 2009 The Honolulu Advertiser


A program originating in Hawai'i has been yielding promising results,
keeping drug offenders closer to the straight-and-narrow terms of
their probation. That is a result worthy of support, both here in the
Islands and nationally

And Project HOPE, an initiative of the justice system to stop criminal
behavior from accelerating, has drawn the attention of national
experts who think it's a model to be replicated in other states.

"When Brute Force Fails," a new book by UCLA professor Mark Kleiman,
includes a major section and other references to Project HOPE, created
by state Circuit Court Judge Steven Alm.

HOPE stands for Hawai'i's Opportunity Probation with Enforcement.
Kleiman has been studying the project along with another California
professor, Angela Hawken, and their full study is due to be released
later this year.

But the book extols what already seems evident with the project, which
is designed to reduce probation violations in drug cases by imposing
consequences that are usually brief but meted out quickly. Rather than
stiff sentences after repeated violations, Alm has kept more offenders
from violating probation by making violations easy to detect through
frequent drug testing and short jail terms. Punishment that is certain
seems to work better than penalties that are randomly enforced but
more severe.

The program, Kleiman writes, has manageable costs in the short run and
can produce better results, both in human and budgetary terms.

At a time when heavy investments in incarceration have proven
difficult to sustain, that is a benefit that bears watching carefully.
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MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr