"Helping at-risk youth help themselves." Youth referred to the Program have committed a criminal offense, but in lieu of placement in the judicial system, the youth is given the opportunity to demonstrate a pattern of behavior that reflects accountability and responsibility and a pattern of conduct that the law enforcement community and the community at large can see which leads to future leadership and growth among the youth's peers.
Definition and Purpose
Juvenile Diversion is defined in the Colorado Children's Code (Section 19-1-103(44), Colorado Revised Statutes) as "a decision made by a person with authority or a delegate of that person in which the result is that a specific official action of the legal system is not taken against the youth in lieu of participating in individually designed services. The goal is to prevent further involvement of the youth in the formal legal system. Delta County's Juvenile Diversion Program is authorized by the Colorado General Assembly (Section 19-2-303, C.R.S.), which establishes community-based alternatives to the formal court systems in order to:
- Reduce juvenile crime and recidivism,
- Change juvenile offender's behavior and attitudes, and
- Reduce the costs of the juvenile justice system while
- Protecting a juvenile's criminal record.
Diversion may take place either before any formal action is filed or after a formal hearing as an adjunct to probation services (informal adjustment, Section 19-3-505, C.R.S.) or as part of a Court sentence (deferred adjudication, Section 19-2-709, C.R.S.).
The Diversion Program's requirements are often more extensive and demanding than those placed on the youth whose case is prosecuted in a formal court filing. Diversion caseloads are lower than probation caseloads, and many times a Diversion disposition can more effectively hold the youth accountable for their actions by spending more time managing the case and working with the defendant.
Every contract consists of five core elements:
- Completion of the YLS/CMI (Youth Level of Service/Case Management Inventory) assessment tool and the MAYSI-II (Massachusetts Youth Screening Instrument) screening tool with the Diversion Case Manager to assist in determining individualized case plans and appropriate services/treatment.
- Regular diversion meetings: All youth must attend all scheduled meetings on time and maintain excellent and consistent communication with their Diversion Case Manager.
- Education and/or employment goals
- Behavioral expectations: Youth must obey all federal and state laws as well as city/county ordinances. There are also behavioral expectations at school/work/home.
- Community restorative justice may include restitution and/or community service, etc.
Additional program requirements may be required depending on the youth, their specific needs, and the outcome of the YLS/CM assessment, such as:
- Written assignment/letter of apology
- Drug and alcohol treatment or education classes
- Random drug and alcohol screening
- Anger management
- Life skills training
- Offense specific courses
- Restriction of association