Hawaii’s Judge Alm Taking HOPE Program To D.C.

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Hawaii Judge Steve Alm created Hawaii’s Opportunity Probation with Enforcement, the HOPE Program. It’s an award-winning program that employs a tough love approach to felony offenders. Alm, 63, is leaving the bench to move to a Washington, D.C., suburb, where he will work as a legal consultant to states, the Department of Justice and Congress. He might set up a nonprofit HOPE institute if funding can be secured, reports the Honolulu Civil Beat

Under the program, if probationers cut their drug use, keep appointments with probation officers and work to finish drug treatment programs, judges will not be forced to send them back behind bars. HOPE has been a runaway success and a model being adopted across the nation. Research compared HOPE probationers to a control group without the program’s options. Those in the program were 72 percent less likely to test positive for drugs and 61 percent less likely to miss probation officer appointments. Alm is excited because criminal justice reform is being embraced nationally and at the federal level. “Both Democrats and Republicans can agree on this,” he said. “The Republicans tend to like the accountability part and saving money, while Democrats like doing better with probation and not sending people to prison.”

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