Alternatives to traditional prosecution
Four Forms of Diversion
Diversion programs believe that discovering the root of the criminal behavior, such as drug abuse or an underlying mental disorder, will prevent the crime from re-occurring. Thus, there are four distinct types of diversion programs. The first exists at the state level, and the nation’s Administrative Office of the Courts funds it (Siegel, Schmallager, Worrall & White-Lewis, 2015). Next, it is about the pre-booking diversion programs which are aimed at criminals with severe mental illnesses or ones with recurring disorders (Vogler, 2017). It is unique, in that it is designed to prevent the individual from being jailed. The third type of pretrial diversion is post-booking diversion which occurs after the suspect is detained. As the most common type of diversion, they involve assessment of offenders after being charged with an offense and normally require negotiations between criminal integrity workers and diversion staff (Vogler, 2017). Finally, one has post-plea diversion; that one will discover most community service programs. This type of program is assigned following the defendant’s guilty plea and allows them to participate in community service with the eventual goal of having their charges dismissed (Vogler, 2017). Diversion is a rapidly growing prosecution alternative. Diversion programs offer certain therapy or limited requirements
Delayed trial offers contracts with the government whereby a person carries out definite actions in exchange for dismissal of charges or not being filed in total (Henning, 2012). It is comparable to diversion, with each sharing the ultimate goal of charge dismissal or prevention in exchange for certain compliance from the defendant. A defendant at this level might still enjoy the eventual dismissal of all counts. However, they must follow more stringent requirements such as paying certain fines, cooperate with any ongoing investigation and so on (Henning, 2012). Thus, this is far less lenient than a diversion program. If a defendant who enjoys deferred prosecution breaches their contract, the suspended charges can be refiled or re-opened at any time, per the prosecutor’s discretion.
Deferred Sentencing refers to a criminal ruling that is suspended until the respondent has completed a criminal probation period (Siegel et al., 2015). Occurs after a defendant pleads guilty or is found guilty by a judge or jury. In deferred sentencing, they may continue to be productive citizens and can keep their jobs and arguably pursue their lives normally, albeit with special probation requirements (Vogler, 2017). The key distinction is the degree of freedom the individual enjoys. Furthermore, deferred sentencing is unique in that the charge remains valid. If, for example, a defendant is sentenced for a first time driving under the influence offense, after completing their probation; that dismissed charge will remain on the record.
Opinions on each alternative
Diversion programs appear to be effective for offenders with nonviolent records, who might steal a candy bar, find themselves arrested for drug charges and so on. However, the key disadvantage of this system is its data on recidivism. In fact, few diversion programs offer any statistics on their re-offending rates, and thus, one must question the validity of their success.
In deferred prosecution or diversion programs, the individual is typically forced into special treatment programs or community service, and must typically leave their jobs and families, and this deters productivity. In many deferred prosecution cases, in contrast, the charges are dismissed altogether.
Deferred sentencing stands victorious. It enjoys the same benefits as deferred prosecution, such as dismissed charges. However, it contains the added compromise of both allowing the defendant to continue their normal life and holding them to strict probationary requirements. And the fact that the charge never completely erases itself might force one to reform more effectively than the simple eraser masquerading as a diversion.
Henning, P. (2012). Deferred Prosecution Agreements and Cookie-Cutter Justice. Retrieved August 31, 2017, from http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2012/09/17/deferred-prosecution agreements-and-cookie-cutter-justice/?_r=0
Siegel, L., Schmallager, F., Worrall, J. & White-Lewis, E. (2015). Courts and criminal justice in America (2nd ed).
Pearson. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Vogler, R. (2017). A world view of criminal justice. Routledge.