McGeorge School of Law

Alm Talks Hawaiian Justice

January 2, 2008

Judge Steven Alm, ’83, who piloted a successful probation program in Hawaii, came to Sacramento on December 20 to speak with California state officials about the program. McGeorge’s Capital Center for Government Law and Policy sponsored Alm’s trip, which included presentations to California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation administrators, legislative staff, and officials at Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s office.

The Hawaii First Circuit Court judge also made a two-hour presentation at the law school campus. The Hawaiian probation model includes greater judicial involvement, immediate return to jail for high-risk probationers who miss court dates and drug tests, and a gradation of oversight rules depending upon the offender’s crimes.

The program has been in place since 2004 and three-year results show a significant decrease in recidivism. California has been plagued by an overcrowded prison system for the past decade and its probation system has been sharply criticized by politicians on both sides of the aisle. A native Hawaiian, Alm began his career as a deputy prosecuting attorney. In 1994, he was appointed by President Bill Clinton as United States Attorney for the District of Hawaii, serving in that role for six and one-half years. He was appointed to the judiciary in 2001.