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Prosecutor-Led Pretrial Diversion: Case Studies in Eleven Jurisdictions

Publication Date

November 2017


Melissa Labriola, Warren A. Reich, Robert C. Davis, Priscillia Hunt, Michael Rempel, and Samantha Cherney


In response to tightening state budgets, and increasing criminal caseloads and local jail populations, jurisdictions around the country have been seeking alternatives to traditional case processing. One alternative is prosecutor-led diversion: providing treatment or services in lieu of prosecution for low-level defendants. The primary focus of this study was to provide a national portrait of prosecutor-led diversion through case studies of the goals, history, policies, and practices of diversion programs implemented in 11 prosecutor’s offices. The research in this report involved three strategies: case studies of 15 diversion programs run by 10 prosecutors’ offices; focus groups with diversion participants; and an examination of lessons from an 11th site that experienced a change of leadership and consequent revamping of diversion programs during a period overlapping with the timing of our study. The case studies’ research methods included document review; in-person observations; semi-structured interviews of prosecutors and representatives from partner agencies; and a review of program data. The results show that in today’s programs, staff and stakeholders tended to focus on immediate benefits to defendants, such as avoiding the well-known collateral consequences of a criminal record and gaining efficiency benefits by routing cases away from the traditional court process. In addition, most of the 15 programs accepted a wide array of charges, including both misdemeanor and felony defendants. Finally, it was found that prosecutors, defense attorneys, and the court tended to work collaboratively to plan the program model and identify appropriate diversion cases.

Research Design


Research Methods

Case study, Interviews, Focus groups, Observation / Participant observation

Recommended Citation

Labriola, M., Reich, W., Hunt, P., Davis, R., Rempel, M., & Cherney, S. (2017). Prosecutor-led pretrial diversion: Case studies in eleven jurisdictions. Center for Court Innovation. https://www.policinginstitute.org/publication/prosecutor-led-pretrial-diversion-case-studies-in-eleven-jurisdictions/