A Hawaiian court program known as Hawaii’s Opportunity Probation with Enforcement, or HOPE, which strictly enforces criminal offenders' probation periods, has officially arrived in Texas for a test run.Fochall also mentioned a couple of new advisory councils created this year by the governor to advise him on specialty courts and other criminal justice questions:
The state’s first HOPE “warning hearing,” in which the judge encourages initial participants to succeed and informs them of the probation rules and consequences for misbehavior, is set to occur Friday in Tarrant County. The introduction marks the start of an experiment funded in part with a $728,364 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to determine how the Hawaiian HOPE model would translate in the mainland.
The DOJ is also funding teams in three other American cities to test the program.
“This research project is to either prove or disprove that it can be replicated with the same results,” said Judge Mollee Westfall, whose Tarrant County court will pilot the project in Texas. In Hawaii, the HOPE court has already been shown to significantly lower both the drug use among participants and the probability that they will reoffend. The research in Texas is expected to last three years: Participants will begin the program over the next year, spend roughly a year in it and will be tracked by researchers for a year after leaving it.
The Tarrant County HOPE court will focus on felony offenders who have committed low-level drug offenses or property crimes and are at high risk for violating terms of their probation. The model, which resembles other probation programs that already exist in Texas, holds the potential to work with an increasing number of specialty courts in the state.
One hundred and twenty six actively operating specialty courts have been registered with the governor’s office. As the number of such courts continues to increase in the state, judges and legislators have emphasized a need to monitor them more closely. A specialty courts advisory council was created this year to review courts that apply for funding from the governor's office, and the criminal justice advisory council reinstated this year is helping to define best practices for the specialty courts in the state.For more background, see this 2-page fact sheet (pdf) from USDOJ on the HOPE program, and a 2008 Wall Street Journal feature that first popularized the model.
See also prior, related Grits posts:
- Fort Worth drug court modeled after Hawaii HOPE program
- Tarrant judge models strong probation after Hawaii HOPE program
- HOPE program provides strong probation for addicts without mandatory drug treatment
- Hawaii's HOPE program reporting outstanding results
- Levin urges Corrections Committee to mimic Hawaii's HOPE program