RTI International to Evaluate National Program Designed to Reduce Probation Violations

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – RTI International researchers have been awarded a grant by the National Institute of Justice to assess the effectiveness of a national program designed to reduce drug use and criminal behavior among those serving time on probation.

The program, overseen by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, features frequent and random drug testing, access to treatment programs and, when necessary, swift jail sentences, as part of an effort to deter probation violations and re-incarceration by at-risk people.

“It is important we use research and evidence to inform the development of practice and policy,” said BJA Director Denise E. O’Donnell. “This collaboration between BJA and NIJ has the potential to provide a crucial option for jurisdictions to improve offender outcomes and reduce spending on corrections.”

During the next four and one half years, RTI scientists will work with Pennsylvania State University researchers to evaluate four different community-based programs in Clackamas County, Ore.; Essex County, Mass.; Saline County, Ark.; and Tarrant County, Texas. These programs are part of the Honest Opportunity Probation with Enforcement (HOPE) project, funded through the Second Chance Act of 2007 (Public Law 110-199, section 245).  Each of the sites varies significantly in population, density, and geographic location.

The evaluation team will seek to determine the impact of the HOPE project in reducing probationer re-offending, and also identify the likely challenges and costs a jurisdiction should expect when implementing this program.

NIJ Director John H. Laub, Ph.D. said the evaluation is about more than finding the evidence that something works. It is about figuring out how to implement the evidence in the field and understanding why it works, he said. This approach places a priority on research with the potential for practical implementation.
 
“We are pleased to be selected for this important program evaluation,” said Pamela Lattimore, Ph.D., project director and principal scientist in RTI’s Crime, Violence, and Justice Research Program. “In an era of austere federal funding, it is more important than ever to assess the value of federally funded programs.”

This HOPE project is modeled after a successful court-based program initiated in 2004 by Judge Steven S. Alm of Hawaii’s First Circuit Court, titled the Hawaii's Opportunity Probation with Enforcement (HOPE) program.

BJA is partnering with Pepperdine University to provide training, technical assistance, and coaching to each of the sites. The Pepperdine team will work to enhance the sites’ efforts to plan and implement the program during the project period.


 

Highlights

  • RTI International will evaluate a program designed to reduce drug use and criminal behavior among individuals on probation
  • Researchers will assess the effectiveness of four Honest Opportunity Probation with Enforcement programs
  • The programs feature frequent drug testing, access to treatment programs and swift jail sentences to prevent violations and re-incarceration
  • The work is funded by a grant by the National Institute of Justice