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Outcome Study of the Diversion Plus Program for Juvenile Offenders

NCJ Number
Federal Probation Volume: 61 Issue: 2 Dated: June 1997 Pages: 51-56
J J Kammer; K I Minor; J B Wells
Date Published
6 pages
Data from case records of all 94 juveniles who were referred to the Diversion Plus Program in Lexington, Ky. from July 1991 through November 1992 were analyzed to determine the outcomes of this program, an alternative to formal court processing for juvenile status offenders and juveniles charged with minor delinquent offenses.
Data were obtained on background characteristics, whether or not the youth successfully completed the program, and juvenile or adult arrests for 1 year after leaving the program. The participants ranged from 11 to 17 years of age at the time of referral; the average age was 14.55 years. The referral was for a minor delinquent offense in 58.5 percent of the cases and for a status offense in 41.5 percent. Although most juveniles graduated from the program (86.2 percent), almost two-thirds of graduates and nongraduates were rearrested over a 1-year follow-up. Significantly fewer females than males recidivated. Rearrested graduates tended to escalate from status offenses to minor delinquent offending, but findings indicated little escalation from minor delinquency to felonious juvenile delinquency. Findings indicated that the program did little to contain rearrests and suggested that an undifferentiated response to status and delinquent offenders can encourage escalation among status offenders. In addition, the program inadvertently may have stigmatized offenders despite its reintegrative intentions. Findings also suggested the need to give as much consideration to who needs intervention as to what intervention is needed. Future diversion programs that focus mainly on what intervention is needed are likely to reinforce the contention of critics that diversion promotes net-widening by intervening with persons who otherwise would have received little or no intervention. Tables and 40 references