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NCJ Number: 76384 Find in a Library
Title: Diversion in Juvenile Justice - What Hath Been Wrought
Journal: Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency  Volume:18  Issue:1  Dated:(January 1981)  Pages:34-46
Author(s): E M Lemert
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 13
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: A discussion of the origins and rationales for diversion in juvenile justice suggests that the diversion movement resulted in more control of juveniles by the police and the justice system.
Abstract: Diversion is assumed to be a corrective for shortcomings in juvenile justice, such as the denial to juveniles of civil rights or fair treatment, backlogs in the courts, stigmatization of youths, the failure of the system to reduce recidivism, and the failure of communities to assume responsibility for solving youths' problems. Rationales for diversion include reduction in the costs of processing delinquency cases and promotion of the funding of needed services for youths. The concept of diversion is based on the view that most youths will pass through their 'deviant' stage and mature into reasonably law-abiding adults. Therefore, intervention should be based on an assessment of the amount and kinds of damage wrought by younger populations in society and include careful study of the forms it should take. However, a salient unintended consequence of diversion has been its preemption by police and probation departments. In many areas they have set up in-house programs, hired their own personnel, and programmed cases in terms of their special ends and circumstances. In referring cases to other agencies, the police have been selective, favoring some cases and ignoring others. They have also exerted influence on private agencies through representatives on regional boards with funding authority. Contrary to the principle of diversion, large numbers of youths who formerly would have been screened out or released after brief contact with police have been included in new programs. Diversion projects include disproportionately large numbers of younger juveniles, minor offenders, and status offenders. Thus, what was begun as an effort to reduce discretion in juvenile justice has become a warrant to increase discretion and extend control where none had existed before. Perhaps the way to make diversion work is to take it out of the juvenile justice system. English and Scottish experience with diversion is examined, and deinstitutionalization of status offenders is also discussed. Twelve references are included.
Index Term(s): Deinstitutionalization; Diversion programs; Judicial diversion; Juvenile court diversion; Police diversion; Services effectiveness; Status offender diversion
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