This paper reports findings from a randomized controlled trial of a front-end diversion program for prison-bound individuals with property crime convictions, concurrent substance use problems, and no prior violent crime convictions.
Two counties in Oregon participated in the trial, labeled "County A " and "County B. " Across counties, 272 individuals (mean age = 32.7 years; 67.6% male) were recruited and randomized to receive either the diversion program (Senate Bill 416 [SB416]) or probation as usual (PAU). The primary outcome was recidivism, defined as any arrest, conviction, or incarceration for a new crime within three years of diversion from prison.
In County A, SB416 did not outperform PAU on any recidivism outcome. However, in County B, SB416 yielded significantly greater improvements across various configurations of the arrest, conviction, and incarceration outcomes, relative to PAU. Conclusions: SB416 can yield reduced recidivism when implemented in a setting like County B, which when compared to County A, had fewer justice system resources and a limited history of cross-system collaboration. More research on SB416 is needed, including an examination of its mechanisms of change and its cost-effectiveness relative to standard criminal justice system processing. (Publisher abstract provided)