First Circuit Court Judge Steve Alm, founder of HOPE
First Circuit Court Judge Steve Alm, founder of HOPE

The Hawaii Department of Public Safety, the Hawaii State Judiciary, and the Laura and John Arnold Foundation (LJAF) today announced that LJAF is awarding a $789,950 grant to fund a two-year pilot program for pretrial supervision modeled on Hawaii’s Opportunity Probation with Enforcement (HOPE) program.

The grant will fund positions at the Department of Public Safety’s Intake Service Center to supervise and drug test HOPE Pretrial defendants, a deputy sheriff to serve any arrest warrants, and a part-time deputy prosecutor and public defender to prepare for and handle any needed violation hearings in court. The funds will also provide for drug testing, any needed confirmation tests, and outpatient and residential treatment.

HOPE Pretrial, as the pilot will be known, will use the same strategies as HOPE Probation, the high-intensity supervision program that has successfully helped reduce probation violations, re-offense rates, drug use, and the costs of incarceration.

A number of jurisdictions across the nation have replicated HOPE Probation to supervise sentenced offenders; however, this is the first time it is being used with persons on pretrial release. Fifty defendants will be enrolled in the first year of the pilot, and the number may expand to 75 in the following year.

Like HOPE Probation, HOPE Pretrial defendants at an elevated risk of failing to adhere to their conditions of release will be closely monitored by a HOPE Pretrial officer and will receive swift and immediate sanctions for each violation of the conditions or for missing a court date. HOPE Pretrial will also offer substance abuse treatment with the goal of helping people maintain their sobriety in the early stage of their involvement with the criminal justice system.

In Hawaii, the Department of Public Safety is responsible for supervising defendants on pretrial release. “We are committed to improving public safety and making the most efficient use of taxpayer dollars, and we thank the Laura and John Arnold Foundation for helping us do just that,” said Ted

Sakai, director of the Department of Public Safety. “We see HOPE Pretrial as an excellent opportunity to achieve both of these goals.”

“HOPE Probation has shown that swift and certain sanctions can produce dramatic reductions in crime,” LJAF Vice President of Criminal Justice Anne Milgram explained. “We believe that this approach, which has proven so effective at the back end of the criminal justice system, will produce even greater reductions in crime and costs when used earlier in the process.”

According to an independent study funded by the National Institute of Justice, when compared to offenders on standard probation, offenders on HOPE Probation were 55 percent less likely to be arrested for a new crime, 72 percent less likely to use drugs, 61 percent less likely to skip appointments with their supervisory officers, and 53 percent less likely to have their probation revoked.

HOPE Probation was launched in 2004 by First Circuit Judge Steven Alm, who was the chief federal prosecutor in Hawaii from 1994 until becoming a judge in 2001. In addition to his regular calendar, Alm will preside over non-compliance hearings involving pretrial defendants.

“HOPE Pretrial has the potential to significantly improve our criminal justice system,” Judge Alm said. “By intervening early, we have a better chance at getting defendants on the right track more quickly and help them to be productive, law-abiding citizens.”

HOPE is frequently recognized among the most important recent advances in criminal justice, most recently by the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, which included it among the “Top 25 Innovations in Government” earlier this year.

Submitted by the www.arnoldfoundation.org.

About the HOPE Probation program: www.hopehawaii.net

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