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Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Project HOPE model is being tested in additional states

A year-long pilot project in Seattle is using methods for intensively monitoring, rapidly prosecuting, and rapidly yet briefly incarcerating drug offenders, shown to be successful in the Hawaii Project HOPE program, described by Dr. Angela Hawken at last year’s CPDD meeting.

The Seattle program, called the Washington Intensive Supervision Program (WISP), focuses on higher risk offenders than the Hawaii program, and it includes offenders abusing a wide range of drugs. The WISP program is overseen by Dr. Hawken.

Dr. Hawken along with colleague Dr. Mark Kleiman submitted a draft report on the WISP program in December 2011, noting that WISP participants experienced 1) reduced drug use as evidenced by a nearly 66% reduction in positive urine tests, 2) a greater than 60% reduction in incarceration time, and 3) a 75% reduction in criminal activity. Thus, the pilot program appears to be showing substantial benefits even in higher-risk drug offenders.

The early success of the WISP program along with the cost savings such programs can bring has stimulated a statewide initiative, which could be the first statewide program of its kind, to alter Washington State’s drug offender probation/parole system by adopting WISP project methods.

Several other states are testing similar programs, including Alaska, Arizona, California, and Nevada.  Further, the National Institute of Justice reported earlier this month that the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) is supporting programs in 4 states designed to exactly replicate Project HOPE, to determine if the program’s benefits are widely achievable. The 4 additional locations are in Arkansas, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Texas. Dr. Hawken will assist these sites in developing and managing their programs.

CPDDBLOG welcomes CPDD member’s thoughts on this issue.