The Association of Prosecuting Attorneys (APA), in partnership with the Center for Court Innovation (CCI) and NORC at the University of Chicago (NORC), in collaboration with and administration by the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), developed the Prosecutor-Led Diversion Initiative to sustain and create pre-trial prosecutor-led diversion programs with a substance abuse, mental health, and/or human trafficking component. This project will meet the present national need for training and technical assistance in an effort to improve the prosecutorial function by making more informed decisions and can be a smart strategy for improving public safety, allocating prosecution resources, reducing recidivism, and providing offenders with a second chance for success.
In a true prosecutor-led diversion program, the responsibilities for creating diversionary programs are primarily exercised by the individual prosecutor or prosecutor’s office instead of being initiated by police or by the courts. For this Initiative, the focus is on prosecutors’ offices that implement their own diversionary programs by: 1) creating eligibility criteria for the programs; 2) deciding whether to offer the diversion option in a particular case to a particular defendant; and 3) determining whether the program participant has competed the program’s conditions successfully. The overall goal of the APA Prosecutor-Led Diversion Initiative is to give prosecutors’ offices the tools they need to make smarter diversion decisions within their offices that they can implement within their jurisdiction, while restoring public faith in justice and maintaining safety.
In particular, the Initiative will assist prosecutors around the country to plan, implement, sustain, enhance, and evaluate drug treatment, mental health, and human trafficking pre-trial diversion programs within their offices. This Initiative focuses solely on assisting in the creation and maintenance of prosecutor-led and created diversion options; it does not include statutory or court-driven diversion and deferral programs, or drug and mental health courts, unless the prosecutors have some control and input into the inclusion of offenders into the court programs.
The Prosecutor-Led Diversion Initiative is the development of a rich body of knowledge for use by prosecutors nationally and is designed to highlight model pre-trial diversion prosecutorial programs while also providing technical assistance to 16 selected jurisdictions that currently are implementing new pre-trial diversion programs within their offices. The Initiative will provide peer-to-peer exchanges of information among the mentor and training sites; provide relevant subject matter expertise; deliver training programs; guide agencies in implementation procedures and best practices; and provide resources for any prosecutor’s office interested in creating or expanding pre-trial diversion programs with a substance abuse, mental health, and/or human trafficking component.