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Pretrial Adult Diversion - A Study of Impact and Process

NCJ Number
J F Austin
Date Published
100 pages
The impact and process evaluation of the San Pablo Adult Diversion Project (SPAD) in California found that pretrial diversion successfully averted convictions but did not reduce recidivism or costs.
The project was initiated in August 1975 to provide short-term (3 to 6 months) and intensive supervision of misdemeanor defendants and a brokerage-referral service delivery system. Its objectives included diverting 200 cases that would ordinarily result in filed complaints; reducing municipal court congestion and the time lag between arrest and the treatment process; and limiting the extent of penetration into the criminal justice system. In addition, a reduction in recidivism and the provision of opportunities for community involvement in the resocialization process of those referred to the project were desired. SPAD differed from other projects in that it guaranteed dismissal of criminal charges upon successful completion of the diversion supervision and that it actively involved police, district attorney, and community efforts. The evaluation examined the project's definition of diversion and its impact on recidivism, costs, and social control when compared to a control group of nondiverted offenders. The impact results showed that SPAD was unable to reduce recidivism and costs. For the 158 participants in the project's first year, the average cost per divertee was $598.50, adding $116,458 to the county's budget. However, SPAD was successful in protecting its clients from the stigma of conviction: 90 percent had their cases dismissed, compared to a 6.6 percent rate for the control group. After 36 months, divertees had a rearrest rate of 37.7 percent, compared to 44.3 percent for controls -- a statistically nonsignificant difference. Future directions for pretrial diversion are discussed. Flow charts, data tables, footnotes, and an 85-item reference list are included.