An Overview of Prosecutor-Led Diversion Programs: A New Incarnation of an Old Idea

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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. This article presents findings from a descriptive study of 15 diverse prosecutor-led diversion programs. The article describes the goals of these programs, program eligibility, program requirements, and dispositions upon successful completion; and draws contrasts between modern programs and their predecessors.




Johnson, K. C., Davis, R. C., Labriola, M., Rempel, M., & Reich, W. A. (2020). An Overview of Prosecutor-Led Diversion Programs: A New Incarnation of an Old Idea. Justice System Journal, 41(1), 63–78.

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