Juvenile diversion programs
Local governments can invest in this strategy using State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
- This strategy can help prevent violence. The U.S. Department of Treasury has indicated that strategies that help achieve this outcome are eligible for the use of Fiscal Recovery Funds.
Investments in this strategy are SLFRF-eligible as long as they are made in qualified census tracts or are designed to assist populations or communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
- Divert juvenile offenders from the formal justice system, with focus on reducing recidivism and further problem behavior while realizing cost and resource savings
- Built on the premise that avoiding delinquent labeling and exposure to antisocial peers and the juvenile justice system can help reduce risk of further infractions
- Varies in intensity, with some models consisting of simple warnings and others requiring participation in designated programming
- Types of diversion programs include restorative justice, community service, treatment or skills-building programs, family treatment, drug courts, and youth courts
Strength of evidence
Evidence level: Strong (second-highest tier)
Strong (second-highest tier)
Ranked as having the second-highest level of evidence by the National Institute of Justice
Outcomes and impact
- Reduction in recidivism rates
Keys to successful implementation
- Evaluate a range of diversion programs, such as restorative justice, community service, and skillbuilding or treatment, before selecting the ones that will most likely achieve predetermined goals.
- Start recruitment (and in turn, diversion from the formal justice system) before the initiation of formal court procedures; various models have had success at different contact points, including both pre- and post-charging.
- Consider applying certain conditions to program participation, including an admission of guilt and voluntary entry into the intervention.
- Partner with law enforcement, social service agencies, schools, and other community groups to identify youth who would most benefit from the program services.