Models of Prosecutor-Led Diversion Programs in the United States and Beyond
Posted: 3 Feb 2021
Date Written: January 1, 2021
Diversion programs allow criminal justice actors to send defendants out of the court system, compelling them instead to attend treatment programs, participate in educational opportunities, and/or perform community service. These programs exist for both adult and juvenile offenders. Although some diversion programs are administered within the court system, prosecutors design and operate a substantial number of these programs themselves. Because the prosecutor does not need to obtain input from judges or other actors in these programs, they carry higher risks of performance problems, such as net widening and unequal application of program criteria. Furthermore, because of the local focus of most prosecutors’ offices in the United States, their diversion programs differ from place to place. The published program evaluations are too often site-specific, offering few general insights about this category of programs. The fragmented literature about prosecutor-led diversion programs should expand the metrics of success for these programs and monitor the effects of the prosecutor-dominated governance structure.
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