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Pretrial Diversion - Goals And Program Procedures

criminal risk defendants minimum

Measured against any single pretrial reform effort, the multiple ambitions of the early pretrial diversion programs were extraordinary. The courts would gain flexibility in case processing, court congestion and costs would be reduced, and prison and jail populations would decline. Program participants would avoid the stigma of criminal prosecution and receive a variety of helping services that would enhance their community adjustment and decrease recidivism. In theory, there was something for everyone. In practice, no single program could hope to achieve such diverse aims.

At the outset, it proved difficult to reconcile the combined interests of intensive treatment and diversion of large numbers of cases from the criminal justice system. The diversion concept called for removal from the jurisdiction of the court those defendants who might not require a full criminal disposition—by the usual definition, minimum-risk cases. At the same time, the costs of treatment could hardly be justified unless programs served higher-risk clients whose criminal careers might be influenced by the delivery of services. In the context of the diversion process, the dilemma was irresolvable. To be considered for a pretrial diversion program, defendants were required to pass a number of screening tests. In most cases, the logic of this screening was either implicitly or explicitly the selection of minimum-risk defendants.

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