NEW REPORT FROM THE SENTENCING PROJECT: Diversion: A Hidden Key to Combating Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Juvenile Justice

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The Sentencing Project is pleased to share our new report, “Diversion: A Hidden Key to Combating Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Juvenile Justice,” available here:

And please take a look at the early media coverage on the study from JJIE and the Crime Report

The report, authored by Senior Research Fellow Richard A. Mendel, examines decades of research showing how educational, career, and public safety outcomes are better for youth diverted away from juvenile courts. It provides a primer on diversion and its impact on racial equity. Specifically, the report shows that:

  • Compared to youth who are formally involved in court, youth diverted from court have far lower likelihood of subsequent arrests, are far less likely to be incarcerated, commit less violence, have higher rates of school completion and college enrollment, and earn higher incomes in adulthood.
  • Disparities in diversion result both from subjective biases against youth and families of color, and from seemingly neutral diversion rules and practices that cause disproportionate harm to youth of color either by unnecessarily limiting eligibility for diversion or making it difficult for youth of color to complete diversion successfully.
  • A number of states and localities in recent years have adopted new strategies to expand and improve diversion, many of which show substantial promise.

However, efforts to expand diversion opportunities to date have most often lacked an explicit and determined focus on reducing racial and ethnic disparities – an essential ingredient for success. We’re eager to hear your ideas about how to expand the use of diversion in your states!

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