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Prosecutor-Led Youthful Offender Diversion Court Models

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2020
5 pages
After describing a sampling of prosecutor-led youthful offender diversion programs, this report discusses evidence on prosecutor-led diversion.
One of the two sample prosecutorial diversion programs is labeled a young adult diversion program, which is provided in Penington County, South Dakota. The target population consists of 18-25 year-old persons with a limited criminal history who have been charged with non-violent offenses. The diversion program is tailored to participant needs and can include community service, education, counseling, and employment opportunities. The program length is 3-4 months. A participant who completes the program and has no new arrests in the year after program completion may file a motion to eliminate the offense from the records. The second sample program is called Project Re-Direct in Kings County, New York. The targeted group includes gang-involved youth and young adults ages 14-22 charged with a first-time felony. Services include mandatory supervised weekly meetings with program staff; ankle bracelet monitoring; life skills and anger-management group sessions; random drug testing; substance abuse counseling; and curfew checks. Lasting 18-24 months, completion results in the dismissal of charges. Neither of these programs has been empirically validated as effective. The discussion of evidence on prosecutor-led diversion notes there is no common definition for "prosecutor-led diversion." Recommended best practices for the implementation of prosecutor-led diversion programs include limiting participant contact with the justice system; relying on clinical staff to operate individualized treatment program; tracking outcomes of program participants; avoiding imposing costs on program participants; and partnering with community groups to address substance use, mental illness, homelessness, and other handicapping conditions.