Screening Protocols for Program Eligibility
Typically, a prosecutor-led diversion program includes a business process whereby individuals are screened for diversion eligibility and offers are made to eligible individuals or their legal counsel. That process will identify when such screening occurs, who within the prosecutor’s office is responsible for making the eligibility decision, what information is considered, and how diversions offers are conveyed. Potential participants may be identified by prosecutors, law enforcement officers, judicial officers or court staff, or defense counsel. Such participants may be identified at the point of arrest or police contact, at in-custody booking, at arraignment, or at any point up to adjudication of the case. Decisions regarding diversion offers may also be informed by the results of risk and needs assessment tools that are administered.
In developing such processes, prosecutors should develop the means to screen both in custody and out-of-custody individuals. In larger jurisdictions, the process of screening and making diversion offers should be consolidated within a finite number of prosecutors within the office to insure program knowledge and consistent application of the eligibility standards. Such decisions are usually assigned to individuals assigned to the charging and case review function within the office. Eligibility decisions should be made and conveyed at the earliest point practicable so as to maximize system resource savings. If a screening tool is to be used, prosecutors should identify and partner with the entities that will be responsible for scoring such tools (pretrial services, a non-profit agency, prosecutor’s office staff) and providing for screening for both in and out-of-custody individuals.