HOPE/MORR: Hawaii's Opportunity Probation with Enforcement / Massachusetts Offender Recidivism Reduction

At the end of 2012, the District and Superior Courts of Worcester, Massachusetts had a combined caseload of over 1,100 high-risk offenders and the Office of the Commissioner of Probation needed a better strategy for managing them. In fall of 2013, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts announced that the Trial Court of Worcester would administer a pilot program using the HOPE model in an effort to promote successful probation outcomes and reduce recidivism. In addition, the state would hire an external research organization to monitor program fidelity as well as evaluate outcome data.

As of November 2014 the pilot program has showed remarkable results. The data show that the probationers are obeying their probation terms and that the court is issuing sanctions with swiftness and certainty. Of the 34 randomly-assigned HOPE probationers, 94 percent appeared for their warning hearing within seven days. Also, 77 percent have not had a warrant issued. Of those that were issued a warrant, 53 percent had it served within one week. Of those subsequently arrested, 75 percent appeared in court within six days. Furthermore, the rate of positive drug tests has been very low—6.3 percent—with only two probationers sent to inpatient treatment programs. On the whole, the program appears to improving with time; the average rate of violations per offender dropped from 53 percent in September to 28 percent in November. However, overall success will not be determined until the program concludes in June 2015.