Santa Cruz Needs More HOPE and Less Idiot Compassion

Idiot compassion is a great expression, which was actually coined by Trungpa Rinpoche. It refers to something we all do a lot of and call it compassion. In some ways, it’s whats called enabling. It’s the general tendency to give people what they want because you can’t bear to see them suffering. Basically, you’re not giving them what they need. You’re trying to get away from your feeling of I can’t bear to see them suffering. In other words, you’re doing it for yourself. You’re not really doing it for them.

Pema Chodron

Judge Steven Alm has created an innovative probation program in Hawaii that has been so successful in reforming offenders and keeping them out of prison, it’s now being copied in courtrooms across the nation.

Courtesy of PBS Newshour

What they’ve done with the HOPE model is to “ratchet down” the level of penalty so that it’s something you can actually afford to do and then “ratchet up” the likelihood that if you engage in misconduct you will experience that penalty

Todd Clear, Criminal Justice Expert, Rutgers University

Read more at the PBS Newshour.

The Hawaii HOPE Probation program is exactly the kind of outside the box thinking we need to explore on a local level in terms of county probation and court reform. The Hawaii program was initiated and mentored by a judge. Do we have a judge locally that can do the same? Or maybe a probation chief? A county sheriff? A county board of supervisors? A district attorney? We need all of them to come together on a program like this, which seems like such a simple and direct solution to reducing recidivism – by making people more accountable in a more enforceable manner. At the very least, this seems like a project that could be a perfect candidate for social impact bond, pay for success financing on a county level. It has shown previous success rates, it has shown an ability to reduce recidivism and incarceration costs, and ultimately save the county money and reduce incarceration. The status quo isn’t working. It’s time to explore best practices that do work. This is one of them.