Juvenile & Adult Court Diversion Program
This program is a voluntary, confidential alternative to court proceedings for certain juveniles and adult offenders. Cases are referred on an individual basis by the State’s Attorney’s Office. Youth Services’ Diversion Program holds offenders accountable for their unlawful behavior in a way that teaches responsible action and deters future involvement in delinquent or criminal activity.
A contract may include community service, a written essay or other creative project, letters of apology, restitution or participation in an appropriate life skills group. Once the juvenile or adult completes all conditions outlined by the contract, he or she is closed successfully from the program. Individuals who do not successfully complete their contracts are returned to court.
Volunteers, who serve as Diversion Board Members, are an important part of our program. They are enthusiastic community members with strong communication skills and a commitment to a restorative justice philosophy. All volunteers are trained on an ongoing basis.
Is Juvenile and Adult Court Diversion Effective?
Yes! By actively involving the community in response to the harm experienced by all parties, victims have a voice and receive restitution, and Court Diversion participants are far less likely to re-offend. Equally important, Court Diversion is cost-effective; it takes less time and less money to process a case through the Diversion Program than it does to process the same case in the courts.
Once the State’s Attorney has told you that you are eligible for the Diversion Program, you have a choice:
- You can resolve the charges against you in court or
- You can apply to participate in the Diversion Program (at any point during the Diversion process, you can choose to go back to court)
Reasons to Choose Diversion:
- You don’t want a court record.
- You are willing to learn from your mistake and make restitution for your behavior.
- You are willing to repair the harm done to the victim(s) and community.
What Will Be Expected of You:
- Acknowledgement of your responsibility for violating the law and willingness to make amends.
- An interview with a Youth Services’ staff member (parents of minors will be present).
- Payment of Diversion Fees.
- Attendance at a confidential hearing before a Diversion Board (a committee of 5-8 community members) to explain your behavior, supply information about yourself and learn if the board will accept your application. (All statements made by you while you are part of the Diversion Program are privileged and confidential and cannot be used against you later if your case is not dismissed.)
- Completion of a contract within a specified length of time as determined with the Diversion Board.
Successful completion of the Diversion Program results in a dismissal of the charges against you. If you apply for the program and are not accepted, or if you are accepted and do not complete your contract, you will be required to resolve your case in court.
Your Contract Might Include:
- A letter of apology to your victim
- Restitution (money paid for loss) to your victim
- Community service
- Written or oral reports to the Diversion Board
- Drug/alcohol assessment and follow-up
- Education and counseling
- Other suitable requirements established with the Diversion Board
- Diversion fee
What Will the Diversion Program Cost?
- Juvenile charged in Family Court- $100
- Anyone charged in Adult Court- $175
- Those charged with a felony- $300
How Is Court Diversion Funded?
- State funds
- Participant fees
- Local fundraising
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“My husband and I strongly support Youth Services because its programs make such a difference in the lives of local young people -- here and now, one individual at a time, year after year.”
“When a young person begins to run into trouble, Youth Services connects them with the appropriate resources, ranging from their family members to school programs and other community resources that will help get them back on track.”
David, a Balanced and Restorative Justice (BARJ) client at Youth Services, was referred to the Reparative Panel and Street Checker. He had been adjudicated for having a knife at school. School was a rather hostile environment for him, and he was displaying anger at home. Youth Services gave him advice for staying above it all and setting an example that his peers may follow.
The Street Checker and case manager involved him in positive social and physical activities. This past fall he received a Student of the Month Award from The Elks Club, being cited for his leadership and dedication to "doing the right thing."
“In the school system, we see children who are constantly in transition because their families are continually on the move. I know one fifth grade girl, from a single parent family, who has moved twenty times since she was in first grade. When people need counseling or other kinds of support, I usually refer them to Youth Services because of the wide spectrum of services the agency offers.”
Green Street School