A prosecutor-led diversion program can provide offenders with a critical opportunity to avoid a criminal conviction and help them turn their lives around. It can also help them avoid the collateral consequences of a conviction, such as increased difficulties in getting a job, finding housing, obtaining public benefits, or receiving student financial assistance. As such, diversion offers appropriate candidates with the hope of counseling, treatment, and engagement, rather than simply punishment and incarceration.
The creation of a new prosecutor-led diversion program allows prosecutors and defense counsel to collaborate in developing an alternative disposition option that better meets the needs of the affected stakeholders (victims, offenders, and the public) without having to sacrifice their professional and ethical responsibilities to the people that they represent. Defense counsel are an important resource for prosecutors to understand what an offender’s needs are and how they can be met, why a client may be an appropriate diversion candidate, and what kind of diversion programming a client may be more inclined to accept. These insights can result in the design of a better program and one that more individuals are willing to opt into.