Jail Diversion and Recidivism: A Case Study of a Municipal Court Diversion Program [2016]

Municipal Courts in the United States have jurisdiction over cases involving municipal ordinance violations such as loitering, trespassing, public drunkenness, and vandalism. When an individual violates a city ordinance, the typical punishment is a fine, even if the defendant is indigent. Failure to pay the fine on time results in a warrant and possible jail time. This study examined whether individuals who successfully completed a court diversion program for indigent defendants were less likely to reoffend than their counterparts who failed to complete the diversion program. Findings showed clients who successfully completed the diversion program were less likely to commit future city violations and state offenses. The results suggest court diversion programs might offer a promising alternative to jail for some indigent defendants and aid with lowering recidivism at least within the first few years of their initial offense.

Jennifer L. Huck, Camie S. Morris
Criminal Justice Policy Review, Vol 28, Issue 9, 2017