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Choice is Yours: Early Implementation of a Diversion Program for Felony Offenders

NCJ Number
Wendy S. McClanahan; Shelli B. Rossman; Meridith Polin; Sarah K. Pepper; Emily Lipman
Date Published
September 2013
34 pages
This report presents the results of an evaluation of The Choice is Yours (TCY) program implemented in the Philadelphia court system.
This report by the Urban Institute presents the results of an evaluation of The Choice is Yours (TCY) program implemented in the Philadelphia court system. The primary purpose of TCY is to divert offenders away from prison into both 1) TCY court, a problem-solving municipal court where the judge has repeated contact with program participants; and 2) a suite of community-based social services and supports directed by various organizations and agencies. The evaluation of the program found that despite the pilot not being completed TCY has achieved several significant benchmarks, such as securing employment for many participants, bolstering participants' educational achievements, and reducing reoffending among participants. Services offered to program participants include job readiness training, educational enhancement, mentoring, community service opportunities, and direct one-on-one case management. Three key lessons were learned during the implantation of the TCY program: 1) communication is central to the successful implementation of a complex, multi-partner initiative such as TCY; 2) ongoing data collection, analysis, and reflection are essential to making corrections in mid-course in order to improve the program; and 3) advance planning for operational contingencies is important not only for small programs but for large programs as well. This evaluation of Philadelphia's TCY program shows that it is on track to achieve its objectives and that it fills a void in offering felony offenders supportive services that will allow them to remain in the community, enhance their economic job skills and job opportunities, and avoid incarceration. Tables, figures, charts, and references