HOPE Probation

Updated: Jun 9, 2020

By Mark Powell

Replicating Success in Rural America

Judge Wendy Davis joined the Allen Superior Court bench in 2011. In the years since, she has seen thousands of cases involving substance misuse. “A lot of the men and women who appear before me are low-level, non-violent drug offenders who are placed on probation after conviction. However, when they are released, you can’t just say, ‘Ok, stop using drugs’ and expect them to do it. You have to help them to do it, or they’ll wind up right back in jail.”

In 2015, as Indiana’s statewide drug addiction epidemic reached crisis level, Judge Davis was asked to join the Governor’s Task Force on Drug Enforcement, Treatment & Prevention. She quickly encountered a problem common in many states.

“Most of the resources to combat addictions were flowing into major metropolitan areas,” Judge Davis remembers. “Here in Allen County, we were left fighting an uphill battle trying to get people help. We didn’t have enough beds for treatment, but I also knew that many of these people would be better served by treatment instead of incarceration.”

From that challenge, with the idea of recovery over jail, HOPE Probation (Hoosiers Opportunity Probation with Enforcement) was born.

Judge Davis discovered the HOPE Probation concept in Hawaii, where it was developed and launched by First Circuit Judge Steven Alm. She met with the judge and even sat in on court to witness it in operation. Judge Davis quickly decided it was the right idea for helping Allen Cou