RBC readers will not be surprised to hear that HOPE probation and similar programs have great potential to reduce drug abuse, crime, and incarceration. But it may come as news to readers of Slate, and Sam Kornell gives a very good brief account of how and why swift and certain sanctioning works, and its potential to transform the criminal justice system. (Had it been my story, I would have put more emphasis on the managerial challenges that confront anyone trying to make such a program happen.)
Naturally, the story mentions Steven Alm, the judge who made it happen. Surprisingly and appropriately, the focus is on Angela Hawken, who did the research that showed HOPE worked and has vigorously spread the word since, against strong opposition from the friends of business-as-usual in criminal justice and drug treatment. Though the story doesn’t mention it, it was Hawken, more than anyone else, who made the Washington State version of swift-and-certain (called WISP) get started and succeed.
As a bonus, Kornell also credits Caesare Becccaria, who wrote most of it down in 1745. Ideas don’t always matter, and people who think for a living don’t always produce good ones. Correct idea that matter deserve more celebration than they get, and the Beccaria/Hawken has earned its moment in the spotlight.