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NIJ's Multisite Evaluation of Prosecutor-Led Diversion Programs: Strategies, Impacts, and Cost-Effectiveness

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2018
79 pages

As part of a larger study of the features of 11 prosecutor-led diversion programs across the country, this project conducted impact evaluations of five of the programs and cost evaluations of four of the programs.


In recent years, a growing number of prosecutors have established pretrial diversion programs, either before charges are filed with the court or after the court process begins, but before a disposition. This project's design included separate process, impact, and cost evaluations. In a second component of the project, quasi-experimental impact evaluations were conducted on five programs in three sites (two programs each in Cook County, Illinois, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and one in Chittenden County, Vermont. For each program, diversion participants were matched with comparison groups composed of similar but non-participating defendants. The study found that across five programs in three sites, diversion participants benefited from a reduced likelihood of conviction and incarceration. In four of the five programs, pretrial diversion participation was linked to reduced re-arrest rates. In addition, in all four programs for which a cost evaluation was conducted, diversion cases involved a lesser resource investment than similar comparison cases. 20 tables, 1 figure, 42 references, and appended technical reports on impact evaluation methods and cost-evaluation methods

Date Published: April 1, 2018