Last month, Judge Steven Alm of Hawaii’s HOPE Court published a piece in the Hawaii Reporter to clarify a point of confusion — whether HOPE provides drug treatment resources for addicts. In “Setting the Record Straight on HOPE Probation,” Judge Alm explained that HOPE is premised on the idea that not everyone needs state-provided treatment resources to stop using drugs; some people freely quit on their own when HOPE holds them accountable. Those who cannot quit, however, are indeed referred to treatment. ”This triage approach.” he wrote, “preserves precious treatment slots for those who really need them.”
From the available evidence (see chart below), Judge Alm’s underlying premise makes sense. If probation has real teeth, plenty of offenders stay clean without being referred to treatment, and this allows Hawaii to prioritize its limited treatment resources for the offenders who need them most.