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July/August 2024Vol. 25, No. 6The Rising Movement to Divert Youth Out of the Justice System

Jurisdictions are increasingly exploring ways to divert youth accused of delinquent behavior from the justice system. Compared to young people who are arrested and prosecuted in juvenile court, young people who are diverted from formal court processing are less likely to be arrested for subsequent offenses and more likely to succeed in education and employment.

A recent brief from the Sentencing Project, Protect and Redirect: America’s Growing Movement to Divert Youth Out of the Justice System, details significant diversion reform efforts undertaken by jurisdictions in the last 5 to 10 years. It begins by providing background information about diversion efforts using data about the outcomes of diverted youth, including data exploring diversion efforts by race that highlight disparities.

There are many ways to expand diversion opportunities, as evidenced by efforts made by state and local justice systems. The brief provides examples of various new laws, programs, and pathways to expand the use of diversion.

In addition, it emphasizes the steps jurisdictions have taken to promote racial and ethnic equity in diversion. Studies show that White youth are diverted at higher rates than other groups, including Black and African American youth, Hispanic and Latino youth, and American Indian/Alaska Native youth.

The issue brief is the first in a series of publications about youth diversion released in 2024. The other four briefs highlight the following topics:

  • How to address disparities in diversion
  • Best practices for diversion
  • Using data to maximize success in diversion
  • Effective messaging to promote diversion

Visit the Sentencing Project website for more information.