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Testing the Efficacy of Pretrial Diversion A Randomized Trial at the San Francisco Neighborhood Courts

NCJ Number
Date Published
November 2023
47 pages

This study evaluates the efficacy of pretrial diversion through a randomized trial.


This research report presents an evaluation of Neighborhood Courts, a restorative justice diversion program run by the District Attorney in San Francisco. Results indicate that the program reduces recidivism (although this result is statistically insignificant). Neighborhood Courts is built on a restorative justice framework with the use of restorative justice hearings and directives that are assigned to the defendant, all to achieve four primary goals: 1) efficient case resolution; 2) community-driven solutions; reduced burden on criminal courts; and 4) reduced recidivism. This report uses information collected from program staff and participant interviews and surveys, administrative data, and observations of programs to describe how the program is implemented, identify key program facilitators and barriers, illustrate participant experiences, determine whether the model is effective in reducing risk factors for criminal legal involvement (e.g., recidivism), and whether it is cost-effective. This report should be of interest to entities across the U.S. interested in diversion programs.

Date Published: November 1, 2023