While all criminal conduct is corrosive to our community, the District Attorney firmly believes that the safety of our community is best served by allowing some non-violent offenders to participate in an intensive rehabilitative program in lieu of prosecution.
Defendants charged with crimes that may be diversion eligible are screened by the District Attorney’s office. During the screening process, a defendant’s file is reviewed, including a review of his/her criminal record, to determine if s/he qualifies for the program. Admission to the program is at the discretion of the District Attorney’s office.
Upon taking office, District Attorney Cannizzaro increased the educational requirements for diversion counselors. Counselors must possess a master’s degree in counseling or social work, which allows them to provide direct services to participants. A full psychosocial is completed on each client to determine his or her treatment plan. The Diversion Program can take anywhere from 9 to 24 months to complete and can include drug testing, counseling, substance abuse treatment, group therapy, education and job skills training. The Diversion Program is designed to promote community stability and responsible living. Upon successful completion of the program the defendant’s case is dismissed.
District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro believes that the diversion program promotes public safety in two important ways. First, it allows motivated individuals to receive meaningful rehabilitation without the negative collateral consequences of a criminal conviction, which reduces recidivism and increases the likelihood that participants become more productive members of our community. Second, the cases of the participants do not drain the limited resources of the criminal justice system. As such, the program assists the District Attorney’s office in focusing its prosecutorial resources on violent criminals.
Participants in the program are required to pay a $200 fee, which partially covers the cost of their participation. Questions regarding a defendant’s eligibility for the diversion program should be directed to the Assistant District Attorney in the section of court where the case is pending.