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Juvenile Court and Contemporary Diversion: Helpful, Harmful, or Both?

NCJ Number
Criminology & Public Policy Volume: 15 Issue: 3 Dated: August 2016 Pages: 953-981
Date Published
August 2016
29 pages

This study examined the logic of a prominent contemporary diversion effort, civil citation, so as to illuminate tensions inherent in traditional and contemporary diversion, followed by a review of extant evidence on traditional diversion efforts; an examination of civil citation laws; and the identification of the salience of both traditional and contemporary police-centered diversion efforts for youth and the juvenile court.


The juvenile court was established to help children through the use of punishment and rehabilitation and, in so doing, "save" them from a life of crime and disadvantage. Diversion programs and policies emerged in the 1970s as one way to achieve this goal. Despite concerns about its potential harm, diversion became increasingly popular in subsequent decades. This article recommends a more tempered embrace of diversion and a fuller embrace of research-guided efforts to achieve the juvenile court's ideals. Diversion may be effective under certain conditions, but these conditions need to be identified and then met. (Publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: August 1, 2016