This article presents findings from a descriptive study of 15 diverse prosecutor-led diversion programs.
Pretrial diversion programs began in the 1970s with the intention to provide participants an alternative to incarceration and prevent the negative impact of conviction, while allowing criminal justice providers reduced caseloads. Early programs emphasized goals of employment and rehabilitation. While initial evaluation results were encouraging, findings from more sophisticated research studies were negative and helped to discredit diversion programs. More recently, prosecutors have begun reintroducing diversion programs with more pragmatic goals such as reduced case processing costs and expungement of criminal records to prevent loss of access to the employment market. The article describes the goals of these programs, program eligibility, program requirements, and dispositions upon successful completion; and it draws contrasts between modern programs and their predecessors. (publisher abstract modified)