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Innovation Brief: Using Diversion Fairly, Consistently, and Effectively

Published Dec 1, 2011, Juvenile Law Center

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Juvenile justice leaders in Pennsylvania wanted to create a model system to channel youths away from formal processing. The idea was to hold young offenders accountable withless costly and more effective programs, while avoiding the negative consequences of adelinquency adjudication or conviction and a court record. The group began with a focus on youths with mental and behavioral health problems, but soon expanded to include a much broader population. By involving a diverse array of stakeholders and working collaboratively to gain consensus, the group was able to draw up a set of diversion principles, write a statewide guide, and fund pilot projects to divert youths at critical justice system points. Building on this momentum, thirteen additional projects were launched in 2011. Diversion programs are now part of the fabric of juvenile justice reform in the state.

This brief is one in a series describing new knowledge and innovations emerging from Models for Change, a multi-state juvenile justice initiative. Models for Change is accelerating movement toward a more effective, fair, and developmentally sound juvenile justice system by creating replicable models that protect community safety, use resources wisely, and improve outcomes for youths. The briefs are intended to inform professionals in juvenile justice and related fields, and to contribute to a new national wave of juvenile justice reform.


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Models for Change is supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, website operated by Justice Policy Institute.

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