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Diversion Puts Offenders On Path To Success

CONTACT: Willa Farrell, Court Diversion Program Director, (802) 828-3173

April 30, 2014

The Vermont Court Diversion Program keeps its participants conviction-free the first year after program completion, according to a study by the Vermont Center for Justice Research (VCJR). The evaluation documented a recidivism rate of only 5.8% among successful Diversion participants during the one year after completion of the program. The recidivism rate of the entire study cohort up to five years after program completion was 14.3%.

“This study confirms what I and other prosecutors know about the effectiveness of Court Diversion,” said Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell. “Most Diversion participants do not re-offend. And the program serves the interest of justice: it holds offenders accountable and meets victims’ needs, freeing up the resources of prosecutors and Courts to address more serious crimes.”

The vast majorities (almost 90%) of the post-Diversion convictions were for a misdemeanor crime, and approximately 40% of the individuals who committed another offense were convicted of only one crime.

The VCJR study found that almost 5% of the successful Diversion participants had one or more convictions for prior offenses. None of this group was subsequently convicted of another crime following completion of Court Diversion.

Court Diversion is a state-wide local community justice program for youth and adults. The program began in the late 1970's and operates under the auspices of the Attorney General. Court Diversion follows a restorative justice model: putting right the wrongs that have been done by addressing the needs of all stakeholders, including the victim, the community, and the offender. Diversion participants have been charged with a criminal offense but are not adjudicated. The State's Attorney refers individuals to the program. Participants accept responsibility for violating the law and work to repair the harm they caused and, if successful, the prosecutor dismisses the charge, and participants do not end up with a criminal record. Participation in the program is voluntary. Vermont law requires the Court to seal all associated files and records within 30 days of the two-year anniversary of successful completion of Diversion, providing the prosecutor does not object to the sealing.

For a copy of the full report, visit the VCJR website

  Website consulting provided by The National Association of Attorneys General.