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Diversion's Disparate Results and Unresolved Questions - An Integrative Evaluation Perspective

NCJ Number
Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency Volume: 20 Issue: 1 Dated: (January 1983) Pages: 24-38
T G Blomberg
Date Published
This paper assesses the literature evaluating diversion in order to identify an evaluation orientation capable of describing and differentiating the positive and negative outcomes produced by diversion programs for specific groups of youths.
The proposed multi-goal evaluation approach should be capable of exploring what various diversion program operations can and cannot do for various youth groups given relatively stable program contexts. In 1967 a nationwide effort began in the United States to 'divert' youths from the formal juvenile justice system into various forms of community treatment. A major conceptual rationale underlying diversion policy was that reducing penetration of youths into the juvenile court system would lessen the dangers assumed to be associated with delinquency stigmatization and delinquent associations, thereby lowering the likelihood of subsequent delinquent behavior. Until the early 1970's, the literature on diversion was largely without critical or empirical focus; this deficiency reflected, in part, broad and unquestioning support for this liberal reform. Starting in the early 1970's, critical concern began to be given to diversion's potential to produce 'unintended consequences,' and helped stimulate evaluative studies of diversion programs. To date, the reported findings from various evaluations of diversion programs have been mixed and fragmented. Specifically, characteristic evaluation studies of diversion programs have been focused upon determining either the positive or negative outcomes of these programs. Notably absent from the literature evaluating diversion programs have been broadly based studies concerned simultaneously with the positive and negative outcome potential of diversion programs and the program operations producing these outcomes for particular youth groups. (Author abstract)