Using Diversion Fairly, Constructively and Effectively.

Juvenile justice leaders in Pennsylvania wanted to create a model system to channel youths away from formal processing. The idea was to hold young offenders accountable with less costly and more effective programs, while avoiding the negative consequences of delinquency adjudication or conviction and a court record. The group began with a focus on youths with mental and behavioral health problems, but soon expanded to include a much broader population. By involving a diverse array of stakeholders and working collaboratively to gain consensus, the group was able to draw up a set of diversion principles, write a statewide guide, and fund pilot projects to divert youths at critical justice system points. Building on this momentum, thirteen additional projects were launched in 2011. Diversion programs are now part of the fabric of juvenile justice reform in the state.