HOPE Program Hearing, April 10, 2009


Following is a description of an April 2009 hearing on a Crime Victims United proposal for a pilot project in Oregon modeled on Hawaii's Project HOPE - Probation With Enforcement.

The Oregon Legislature declined to pass the bill but there was support for the concept.

In December of 2009, a report was released describing an evaluation of HOPE using randomized controlled trials. The report showed very promising results.

Oregon's "HOPE Program Hearing, April 10, 2009"

In cooperation with Representative Jeff Barker, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Crime Victims United brought three experts to testify on an innovative probation program from Hawaii and on its rigorous evaluation. The hearing was also attended by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Joint Ways and Means Subcommittee on Public Safety.

Hawaii's HOPE program is very simple in concept: it puts enforcement back into probation. Participants in the HOPE program receive weekly random drug tests for those with drug issues and swift and certain sanctions for every probation violation. Results from a rigorous evaluation comparing HOPE participants to a true control group are very encouraging. Drug use is significantly down, compliance is significantly up, and arrests for new crimes are significantly down. An official report is due in May, 2009.

In addition to its innovative approach to probation, the level of rigor in the evaluation of the program makes it stand out. The evaluation employs a randomized controlled trial, meaning that the treatment group and the control group are chosen by random selection from a common pool of candidates. This methodological rigor eliminates "selection bias" - a source of error that plagues most program evaluations to one degree or another.

House Bill 3264, which proposes a pilot project based on the HOPE program, is under consideration in the Oregon Legislature.

The hearing featured Judge Steven Alm of Hawaii - the originator of HOPE, Dr. Angela Hawken of Pepperdine University - the principal program evaluator, and Dr. David Farabee of UCLA - an authority on drug treatment and the evaluation of drug treatment programs.

Judge Alm

Judge Steven Alm has been a Circuit Court Judge in Honolulu since 2001. Prior to that he was the United States Attorney for the District of Hawaii and before that he was a deputy prosecuting attorney in Hawaii. Judge Alm is originator of and the guiding force behind Project H.O.P.E.

Judge Alm described the genesis of the HOPE program, it's philosophical basis, how it developed and how it operates in practice.

Judge Steven Alm's Testimony

Dr. Hawken's Testimony

Dr. Angela Hawken is a professor at the School of Public Policy at Pepperdine University where she teaches graduate classes in research methods, statistics, and applied methods for crime and social policy analysis. She conducted the statewide cost-benefit analysis of California's Proposition 36 - a ballot measure in the year 2000 that mandated treatment for drug users. She is the principle investigator for the evaluation of Project H.O.P.E.

Dr. Hawken described the evaluation of the HOPE program and preliminary results. Initially the program was evaluated using a comparison group. In 2007, a true randomized controlled trial was started. An official report on that study is expected in May, 2009. Both the initial study and the randomized controlled trial showed a strong positive effect.

Dr. Angela Hawken's Testimony

Dr. Farabee's Testimony

Dr. David Farabee is a research psychologist at UCLA and is Director of the Integrated Substance Abuse Programs Juvenile Justice Research Group. Dr. Farabee is the principle or co-principle investigator for three NIH-funded addiction-related programs. He is also principle investigator for two California DOC programs. Dr. Farabee is co-editor of two books on drug treatment and is the author of "Rethinking Rehabilitation: Why Can't We Reform Our Criminals?".

Dr. Farabee spoke on methodological rigor in program evaluation.

Dr. David Farabee's Testimony

Further Information

Overview of Project HOPE

December 2009 Evaluation of HOPE

Wall Street Journal Article

National Institute of Justice Brief

HOPE Home Page

HB 3264 Legislative Concept

HB 3264

Hearing Audio

Judge Alm starts at 09:12. Dr. Hawken starts at 27:25. Dr. Farabee starts at 57:30.

Academy of Experimental Criminology