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Evaluation of the Philadelphia Police School Diversion Program: Long-Term Outcomes and Sustained Impact, Final Technical Report

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 2021
66 pages

This study assesses the outcomes and impact of the Philadelphia Police School Diversion Program.


This evaluation of the Philadelphia Police School Diversion Program examined long-term outcomes for diverted youth and sustained effects of the program over five years. Results indicate the Diversion Program met its primary goal of substantially reducing the number of school-based arrests city-wide without endangering school or community safety. Schools are a primary referral source to the juvenile justice system, helping create and perpetuate the school-to-prison pipeline. Seeking to dismantle this pipeline in the city, the Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) partnered with the School District of Philadelphia (SDP) and the Philadelphia Department of Human Services (DHS) to develop and operate the Philadelphia Police School Diversion Program. From a full sample of 3,616 diverted and arrested students, this study used a quasi-experimental design to compare data for diverted youth (quasi-experimental group; n = 1,281) and similar youth arrested in schools in the year before the program’s implementation (quasi-control group; n = 531). Results revealed a significantly lower five-year recidivism rate and a significantly lower four-year out-of-school suspension rate among diverted youth than among propensity score matched arrested youth. Matched diverted and arrested youth samples did not differ significantly in their likelihood of school dropout or on-time graduation in the four years following their referring school-based incident. Additionally, examined relationships were not significantly moderated by youths’ race/ethnicity or special education status. Program impacts exceeded target thresholds over time, with an 84% reduction in the number of school-based arrests from baseline to year 5 of Diversion Program operation, a 34% reduction in the number of serious behavioral incidents from baseline to year 5, and an 89% service referral acceptance rate among diverted youth and families with whom DHS made contact following diversion.

Date Published: October 1, 2021