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Prosecutor-Led Pretrial Diversion: Case Studies in Eleven Jurisdictions

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2018
93 pages

This study's purpose was to provide a national portrait of prosecutor-led diversion programs, using case studies of the goals, history, policies, and practices of diversion programs conducted by 11 prosecutors' offices selected to provide variations in program timing (pre- or post-filing),target population, program intensity and duration, and other policies and practices.


Prosecutor-led diversion typically involves providing treatment or services in lieu of formal prosecution for low-level offenses. The diversion programs examined had significant diversity in their target populations and policies; however, a number of noteworthy strengths were evident across jurisdictions. These were as follows: 1) inclusive planning processes that involved both public defenders and the court; 2) a willingness to offer diversion to defendants with a prior record and those charged with selected felonies; 3) the use of pre-filing programs in some sites that route defendants from the court process before it even begins; 4) consistent dismissals for diversion completion, which limits collateral consequences for defendants); and 5) generally positive perceptions of the program among staff, stakeholders, and program participants. Some notable challenges identified were the use of fines and fees in some programs as a precondition for completion; significant use of "one size fits all" program mandates in many sites; and a lack of evidence-based treatment in most sites. One noted study limitation was a focus on 16 high-volume programs located in large jurisdictions with a staff interested in an intensive study of the program. The study design included intensive case studies of 15 diversion programs, focus groups with diversion participants in select sites, and an examination of lessons learned from one site experiencing a revamping of diversion programs. 7 tables, 22 references, and appended interview protocol, focus group guide, and program logic models

Date Published: April 1, 2018