Wyoming Liberty Group

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What is meant by “Juvenile Diversion”?

I have mentioned diversion and diversion programs in various blogs. I thought I had a fairly good grasp of the concept until I began looking at the various different ways diversion was being implemented across the state. My first impulse was to pronounce some forms as just wrong. Reminds me of riding for Condict, he’d say “That’s just wrong!” which meant we weren’t riding, driving or walking any further until the situation was rectified, after of course I figured out what it was that was wrong. I began to read national and international definitions, there were some similarities in them all but subtle differences.

Here is pretty good one I think from UNICEF

Diversion - means the conditional channeling of children in conflict with the law away from judicial proceedings towards a different way of resolving the issue that enables many - possibly most - to be dealt with by non-judicial bodies, thereby avoiding the negative effects of formal judicial proceedings and a criminal record.

Another from Crime Solutions

Juvenile diversion is an intervention strategy that redirects youths away from formal processing in the juvenile justice system, while still holding them accountable for their actions. Diversion programs may vary from low-intensity warn-and-release programs to more-intensive treatment or therapeutic programming, all in lieu of formal court processing. Diversion programs are also designed to be less costly than formal court proceedings because they reduce the burden on the court system, reduce the caseload of juvenile probation officers, and free up limited resources and services for high-risk juvenile offenders. The goal of diversion programs is to reduce recidivism or the occurrence of problem behaviors without having to formally process youth in the justice system.

There are diversion programs run and administered by full time diversion workers. There are diversion programs run part-time by Boys and Girls clubs as well as groups of volunteer citizens.

Diversion can be as simple as a Sheriff’s Deputy taking a minor home to his or her parents. Various Law Enforcement around the state regularly arrange restitution as well as apologies. Parents are kept in the loop and I’m sure consequences are swift at home.

Some diversion programs destroy any record of the juvenile’s infraction at acceptance. In other areas all diversion is post adjudication, i.e. a judge orders it. The “diversion” is a matter of court record.

The commonality of these programs is this, they circumvent the law. If 50% of juveniles that have contact with law enforcement are diverted (often quoted statistic of prosecutors while before the Judicial Interim Committee) then the law is not being applied to 50% of the cited. What does this mean? Is the law too harsh? Does Law Enforcement need to be given more discretion? Once again, this is and should be, an issue resolved on a community level.

On August 13 2015, the Judicial Interim Committee decided that our state’s many different styles of diversion programs were working well and that the Legislature should “Stay out of it” I agree.

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