Prosecutor-led diversion programs offer the prospect of “off-ramping” suitable cases early in the court process, potentially alleviating the strain on overburdened criminal justice agencies and resulting in increased efficiency, reduced court backlogs, less reliance on incarceration sentences, decreased collateral consequences for defendants, and better decision-making by court players.
This study provides a detailed portrait of the goals, target populations, and policies of prosecutor-led diversion programs across the country. Results of a national survey reveal many similarities in diversion programs. Just over half of responding offices have such a program in place; the majority of these divert adults facing select charges after the case has been filed by the prosecutor’s office. The most commonly used mandates are community service, substance use education, and substance use treatment. Defendants who successfully complete diversion programming typically have the charges against them dismissed or never filed by the prosecutor.