Juvenile diversion programs
- 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.