Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski wants to use $13.5 million in federal stimulus dollars to create an enhanced probation program for repeat property and drug offenders who might otherwise face prison under a new state law, The Oregonian reports. The program would be modeled after the nationally recognized HOPE program in Hawaii, in which high-risk offenders go before a judge for every probation violation and are sanctioned to short jail stays to try to keep them on track.
Hawaii Judge Steven Alm created the program 4 1/2 years ago after he was repeatedly asked to revoke offenders’ probation for failing numerous drug tests, missing probation appointments, or refusing or failing to attend treatment. Typically, he said, a probation officer would recommend the offender be sentenced to several years in prison. Alm considered how he, as a parent, would react if his son misbehaved, and decided to apply the same logic to probation. “I would not essentially ignore it repeatedly and then kick him out of the house a year later,” Alm said. Instead, he’d give his son “swift and certain consequences” and talk to him immediately, so he could see his actions’ cause and effect. Oregon’s easure 57, approved in November 2008, increased prison sentences for nonviolent, repeat property and drug offenses. The measure is estimated to run up more than $140 million in prison costs the next two years and require 1,600 more prison beds in the next three years.