This long-term evaluation of the impact of a police diversion program for youth suspected of specified summary and misdemeanor offenses on school grounds (Philadelphia Police School Diversion Program) focused on the program’s effects on community safety, collateral consequences for diverted youth, school community safety, school police officers’ beliefs about the program, and taxpayers’ return on investment.
The evaluation relied on a rigorous, quasi-experimental design. Using police, school, and child welfare administrative records, the evaluation compared moderate-term (1-2 years) and long-term (4-5 years) outcomes related to recidivism and collateral consequences between students diverted through the program (quasi-experimental group, n= 1,281) and students arrested in schools for similar offenses in 2013-2014, the school year before the implementation of the Diversion Program (quasi-control, n=531). Results indicated that significantly fewer diverted youth than propensity-score-matched arrested youth experienced a recidivism arrest for a new offense in school or in the community during the 5 years following their referring school-based incidents. This suggests that Diversion Program implementation contributed to improved community safety. In addition, results indicated that diverted youth were less likely than matched arrested youth to be suspended from school in the 1 year following their referring school-based incident. No significant differences were found between matched diverted and arrested youth in rates of school dropout, on-time graduation, or future child welfare involvement. Extensive tables and figures