Juvenile Diversion: Isolating Mentally Ill and Juvenile Offenders From Formal Justice System - Research Paper

Paper Type:  Research paper
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1711 Words
Date:  2023-03-22


Reviewed literature shows that juvenile diversion is one of the commonly studied topics among modern studies. According to Bonnie and his friends, the term minor diversion refers to the program of isolating juvenile or mentally ill offenders from the formal justice system. It is worth highlighting that some diversion programs are predisposition or pretrial, meaning that the isolation of the mentally ill or youths commences from the onset. Nevertheless, additional diversions happen immediately after the official admission or adjudication of the quilt. In such scenarios, the mentally ill or juveniles get the distractions from incarceration or detention as they also experience conventional processes. Diversion programs play a critical role in reducing offending among the youths and mentally ill because it holds them liable for their illicit activities.

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The predicated of diversion thrives on the notion that the official approach processing and imprisonment characterizes criminality consequences and those priorities. These are decriminalization, de-institutionalization, and distraction, which suit the continual development of the youth or mentally ill offenders (Bonnie et al., 2013). During the creation of unofficial channels, these programs serve the purpose of correcting minor or mentally impaired personalities' antisocial characteristics courtesy of their families' help as well as the community instead of the judicial system.

The notion that diversion programs punish antisocial characteristics among the youths and the mentally impaired by isolating the court. In this setting, the state of diversion program as an alternative to the standard processing makes them suitable in the reduction of stigma, coercive entry in the system, and unwanted social control (DSGI, 2017). More so, it lowers recidivism and enhances youth empowerment as it also links them to the broader society priorities (Schwalbe et al., 2012). These programs for reducing the risk of criminal socialization through the provision of role models as well as sound peers offer discipline-based literature, enhancing school participation, and, more so, increase the levels of the general functioning of the juveniles and mentally impaired people.

Empirical evidence shows that diversion programs lower the cost of the official court schedules by reducing the load on the judicial justice system and incarceration facilities handling cases of the juvenile or mentally ill offenders. These programs often lower the caseloads of court officers such as the judges, prosecutors, as well as the probation officers in charge of juveniles or mentally ill offenders (Borduin et al., 2009). Moreover, the diversion program leads to a declined number of youths and mentally sick people who interact with criminal justice. According to statistics, the financial cost for the official processing of children or mentally handicapped in terms of system processes and housing is higher than the value of multiple diversion programs. For instance, the 2005-2008 Florida expenditure statistics revealed that the cost of providing juvenile detention facilities, mainly shelter was $50.8 million while enrolling them in a diversion program could attract only $14.4 million. These programs, therefore, allow the system's scarce finances to impact the juveniles committing severe crimes. They also lower the strain on the youth justice system, thus improving its general efficiency (Andrews et al., 2010).

Theoretical Foundation

Diversion is a concept that originated from two theories of reason. The initial one titled labeling perspective contends that processing specific youths or the mentally impaired via the criminal justice system associates with many negative impacts than advantages (DSGI, 2017). Such an approach succeeds by inadvertent stigmatization of these entities for having perpetrated relatively minor offenses suitable for external entities instead of the conventional system. In the same situation, it is evident that individuals who experience stigmatization and labeled deviant could wear a deviant-self identify and become extremely deviant than those not stigmatized (Bonnie et al., 2013). The ideology labeling people as deviant, criminal, or youth offenders constructs self-definition and societal perception hence influencing their fore coming characters and social roles. People's definitions both in society.

Besides, the differential association theory presents that system-involved juveniles or mentally handicapped are likely not to embrace antisocial perceptions and characteristics from criminal peers. Exposing and fraternizing them in the presence of complex criminal peers has a criminogenic impact, which fosters re-offending (Aos et al., 2006). In this context, by the diversion program reducing youth introduction and interaction with youth courts, it plays the role of reducing the consequences of labeling these entities as rebellious hence limiting their abilities to commit a crime or adopt socially unsound characteristics.

In recent days, the new theory in juvenile justice also recommends that the majority of the youths acquire maturity characteristics through offending characteristics because it is temporal, natural element of the juveniles. This period of transforming from childhood to adulthood embodies risk-taking and experimentation traits (Borduin et al., 2009). Either adolescent is often sensitive to their peers as well as other social patterns, thus can quickly develop their self-identity. The majority of youths change from this period after having grown their identities, while the limited number of these youths continue with their offensive traits as they mature. As a result, diversion program enhances the adequate, prosocial transition to maturity as it holds them accountable for unsound social characteristics.

Characteristics of Diversion Programs

Diversion programs have similar objectives of processing juveniles and the mentally impaired from the procedures of the conventional justice system. At the same time, the state of diversion activities varies depending on the type of program (Aos et al., 2006). Such programs have a significant difference in terms of approaches and methodologies, and many of the varied features lie across the six main components. These are the structure, points of contact, types of intervention or service delivered, target population, official and informal processing, setting, and target population.

Analysis of the Six Main Components

Point of Contact

This component refers to the exact spot or method through which the juvenile or mentally ill offender interacts with the delinquency justice apparatus. In this setting, diversion could happen at the contact points such as arrest or adjudication. This scenario occurs before disposition that is when the judge officially sentences the minor (August et al., 2016). The system diversion may include multiple approaches (alternatives to the first-time or progressive justice processes.


Diversion programs may happen in a justice context, namely the juvenile or mental illness courts or in the non-justice scenario such as the community depending on the needs of the youths. Either the setting could differ in the way in which the judicial system handles the charges and whether the system suspends or fully processes the sentences.


There are specific diversion programs with complex structures as exemplified by those permitting referrals, risk outcomes, assessment needs, age, type of crime, and one's history of offending, which facilitates program inclusion (Aos et al., 2006). These programs could streamline specific situations and roles which the teens must observe as they penetrate and remain within the program boundaries. Such diversion programs comprise the system of sanctions and rewards, which aids the youth motivation to meet the laid down program terms. Moreover, they also facilitate program completion. Failure to comply with the needs of the program could enhance exclusion from such procedures and admission back to the youth judicial system.

Target Population

Empirical evidence shows that diversion programs differ in terms of their type of services and primary interventions. Regarding interventions, these programs render therapy-based functionality to transform behavior via community service practices and restitution of particular victims or the general society (Borduin et al., 2009). These service approaches are restorative justice, reintegrative shaming conventions, juvenile handover, truancy practices, mentoring programs, respite care, parent training, curfew prevention programs, as well as underage-drinking prevention and prevention programs.

Formal and Informal Processing

These programs thrive under the following situations. Informal, warning or caution programs have the least invasion as they serve to redirect the teens out of the system with least to no further activities. These programs usually lay their emphasis on cautioning about the expected impact of progressed antisocial traits from the immediate members or local cops. About the cautious activities, teen engagement with law structures in the limited state (Andrews et al., 2010). The police could warm and release teens without conditions, discharge them with pending charges or release and refer them to community-based interventions. If they further interact with the law, there would be a need to dismiss any post-arrest charges within a specified duration.

On the other hand, a formal diversion program happens after the arrest and entails the following. The fairness element in the form of probation supervision, police decision, and court activities as well as the service component (Borduin et al., 2009). After filing the charges, prosecutors or judges could refer juveniles to the initiative ranging from surveillance to active involvement in the intervention. The state of formal diversion often involves an admission of guilt as well as the covenant to participate in available and proper programming (Schwalbe et al., 2012). In this setting, adequate completion of the agreement terms leads not to additional judicial processing

Recent Developments in Diversion

Past years have witnessed a robust evolution of the term diversion. Out of the six fundamentals of recreation, namely setting (of services) as well as the types of interventions. These transformations help to reflect the actual deviation and provide some of the often-missing data necessary in improving the state, standard, and the magnitude of services that teens in the program get.


The state of the diversion program has witnessed some unique features as they focus more on community-based settings due to the patterns of applications in the institutional contexts to do the following. First, it reflects official incarceration as it threatens to dampen every positive effect of treatment or services (DSGI, 2017). Secondly, it has multiple effects via more significant interaction with socially unsound peers. Lastly, it has no more substantial impact on juveniles that those excluding juvenile justice supervision.

Types of Intervention

The diversion program is currently emphasizing the identification of the characteristics of the clients that suits specific kinds of the program as they offer more direct treatment in the diversion procedures. The majority of the intervention programs depend mostly on the RNR model (risk/need/ responsibility system (Bonnie et al., 2013). This approach recommends that focused treatment interventions are suitable for successfully impact the risk factors that attribute to unsound social traits. In the presence of this model, various suggestions avail. One, it recommends that therapeutic intensity should reflect the magnitude of the risk. Secondly, there is a need to target...

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Juvenile Diversion: Isolating Mentally Ill and Juvenile Offenders From Formal Justice System - Research Paper. (2023, Mar 22). Retrieved from https://proessays.net/essays/juvenile-diversion-isolating-mentally-ill-and-juvenile-offenders-from-formal-justice-system-research-paper

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