Minimally Sufficient Deterrence
Project HOPE is a drug court [sic] program in the focused deterrence tradition that initially seemed to have promising pyramidal features of escalated response targeted on hard cases. HOPE stood for Hawai’i Opportunity Probation with Enforcement. It has been adopted in dozens of US locations with Honest replacing Hawai’i, yet with mostly very limited investment in creating job or other “opportunities.” Intervention escalated as drug users went off the rails. Yet it may be the program that ran off the rails; much of the rhetoric of its practitioners was maximalist, oriented to “swift and certain” deterrence. This happened when the evidence is not supportive of criminal justice swiftness, even though swiftness of parental response in child-rearing is important (Pratt and Turanovic 2018).
Hawken and Kleiman (2009) entitle their evaluation Managing Drug Involved Probationers with Swift and Certain Sanctions: Evaluating Hawaii’s HOPE. Duriez, Cullen, and Manchak (2014) raise the concern that the ideology driving the diffusion of Project HOPE has emphasized its “swift and certain” character, ignoring other positive features such as motivational interviewing training for officers in the program, something for which there is a strong evidence base (Rubak et al. 2005; Lundahl et al. 2010), which is why motivational interviewing has become central to responsive regulation (Braithwaite 2011). The literature reviews of HOPE can be characterized as somewhere between showing great promise and being discouraging (Lattimore et al. 2016).* As with Operation Ceasefire, they should be redone after some on-the-ground engagement with what each specific program actually does. They could be coded qualitatively or quantitatively according to four variables: how much deterrence is involved (HOPE’s E: “Enforcement”), how much social support there is (HOPE’s O: “Opportunity”), how dynamically concentrated the deterrence is, and how dynamically concentrated the support is. Meta-analyses might contribute more to science if they were more theoretically focused on what they evaluate and less focused on heterogeneous puzzles like HOPE that are in essence brands.
* Lattimore et al. (2016, p. 1103) describe the HOPE program they evaluated at four sites as a “program that emphasizes close monitoring; frequent drug testing; and swift, certain, and fair (SCF) sanctioning. It also reserves scarce treatment resources for those most in need.” There is not much escalation of support in that description, nor any dynamic distinctiveness of the deterrence strategy to transcend the limits of static deterrence.