Swift, Certain, and Fair Punishment: 24/7 Sobriety and Hope: Creative Approaches to Alcohol- and Illicit Drug-Using Offenders

Larkin, Paul J., Jr. | January 1, 2015

Criminologists believe that the certain and swift imposition of a mild punishment has a greater deterrent effect than the remote and indefinite application of a severe punishment. Judges in South Dakota and Hawaii independently put that theory to the test and created innovative strategies to deal with substance abuse and crime. Those programs—the 24/7 Sobriety program in South Dakota and Hawaii’s Opportunity Probation with Enforcement—subject probationers to a rigorous alcohol or drug testing regimen backed up by a guaranteed and immediate but modest sentence of confinement for everyone who tests positive. Those programs have proved to be sensible, humane, and effective mechanisms for dealing with substance abuse and crime. A few other states have adopted similar regimens, but most have not. The latter jurisdictions should consider creating their own programs based on the South Dakota and Hawaii models.