What is it?
An accredited juvenile court diversion program holds youth accountable for disruptive behavior while ensuring they benefit from educational and support services to improve their behavior and not end up in juvenile court. Appropriate youth, who are first-time offenders, are given the opportunity to complete a diversion program leaving them with no juvenile record. This is a referral-only program.
How does is it work?
Youth referred to a diversion program can expect to
- Participate in an assessment to identify areas of strength and those needing assistance
- Include their parent or guardian in discussion about their well-being
- Meet with a panel of volunteers (some of whom may be teens) or staff members to discuss their case and develop a contract or written agreement
- Spend approximately 3-6 months working on goals outlined in their contract
- Attend educational classes or workshops included in the contract along with participating in community service and/or pay restitution
- Have their case closed with no juvenile court conviction, provided the contract is complete with no further offenses committed
Is it successful?
A 2016 Recidivism Study of 444 youth diverted in 2012 showed:
78% of youth were arrest-free one year after program completion
58.3% of youth were arrest-free three years after program completion
Why have a juvenile court diversion program?
- Enables the community to handle the consequences, so caseloads for Juvenile Probation and Parole Officers are not needlessly increased
- Allows Judges to focus on serious offenses
- Diversion consequences are often tougher than court, higher accountability and more comprehensive
- Leaves fear of court as leverage for those that need to enter Juvenile Justice system of non compliance.
Please note: youth can only participate in the program if referred by the police.