Some offenders are referred to diversion by the prosecutor. The diversion process is handled by diversion staff, a panel of citizens called a Community Accountability Board, or Teen Court. The conclusion of any of these processes results in a contract, called a diversion agreement, being signed. The agreement outlines the specific course of action that must be taken by the juvenile for accountability of their actions.
A typical agreement may include any of the following:
Assessment and payment of a fine
Assessment and payment of restitution to victims
Volunteer work for a community organization
The diversion staff monitors the contracts and reports outcomes to the Juvenile Court Administration. Failed diversions are referred back to the prosecutor. The diversion process is appropriate for minor offenses because the community is involved, it is cost effective, and the Juvenile Court’s time is better spent on serious cases. Diversion is a successful program, and outcomes show that half of those referred are never seen again in the Juvenile Justice System.
Second-time referrals to diversion have an experiential option for minor offenses called Teen Court. Offenses referred are minor in nature and do not involve weapons, domestic violence or gang activity. The court provides peer juries and court personnel. Volunteer attorneys act as mentors and assist the youth in orientation, and training new participants. They also sit as judge to guide the process.
Youth who participate in Teen Court are exposed to positive peer role models and are encouraged to adopt similar behavior through interactions. They learn peer-based skills that they can use in various aspects of their lives to avoid future illegal behavior. Teen Court provides a means to mentor and support youth by giving them an opportunity to make significant contributions to their community.
Community Accountability Board
The Community Accountability Board is comprised of trained community volunteers who will hear the case and assign consequences for the offense.