Diverting youth into community-based options

icon_divertThe traditional response by the juvenile legal system can isolate youth from their family and community, increase their traumatization, and as a consequence, make it more difficult to engage youth in services and supports. Adolescents with juvenile records carry a long-lasting stigma that creates more barriers to employment and housing.

Over reliance on the traditional response of the juvenile legal system does not lead to safer communities, better outcomes for youth, or more equitable systems. This objective calls on legal system partners and community to work together to create an effective continuum of community-based approaches, accessed at different points in the juvenile legal process, that provide for community safety and for the developmental needs of youth.

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The King County Juvenile Justice Equity Steering Committee identified five essential elements necessary to maximize diversion:

  1. Youth and family centered
  2. Community-based & delivered in culturally meaningful ways
  3. Tailored to the needs of youth
  4. Youth have multiple chances at diversion
  5. Addressing basic needs essential for success

King County is not starting from scratch in its diversion work. It has a long history of using alternatives to secure detention and implementing diversion options for youth involved with the legal system on less serious offenses. For this objective, the journey to Zero Youth Detention means continuing to carefully expand the range of community-based diversion options until it becomes the primary response for youth who come into contact with the legal system, including those with complex needs.

Stay tuned for the rest of the Diving into the Road Map blog series that will further explore the strategies and action items of this objective:

Objective 3: Divert

Divert youth from the formal legal process and detention to community based options

This objective calls on legal system partners and community to work together to create an effective continuum of community-based approaches, accessed at different points in the juvenile legal process, that provide for community safety and for the developmental needs of youth.

Strategies

  1. Divert youth from law enforcement arrest and/or citation
  2. Divert youth from referral, case filing, and adjudication
  3. Divert youth from secure detention

Example Action Items

  • Convene law enforcement and communities to develop and test alternative responses to formal arrest
  • Expand Community Empowered Disposition Alternative and Resolution (CEDAR) program, an “expedited” case processing track
  • Partner with community providers to expand use of electronic home monitoring (EHM) for youth

In the meantime, you can read more about this objective in the Road Map report.