In the last decade, diversion programs have become a mainstay in the criminal justice field. With a goal to provide additional support to communities, these programs offer an alternative to the traditional criminal justice system and offer new ways to protect neighborhoods. Louisiana is working to increase these programs to help make communities safer for everyone.
Addressing the primary causes of arrests
One of the most important aspects of diversion programs is that they aim to help address systemic issues. Many communities with high levels of incarcerated or formerly incarcerated populations suffer from severe problems such as lack of access to education and jobs. Diversion programs can help provide an avenue to address these challenges while also limiting the amount of time that people spend in prison.
It is no secret that every year the U.S. incarcerates a significant number of people. Mass incarceration can lead not only to increased spending by the government but can also weaken the economy by reducing the number of people able to contribute to a productive workforce. Moreover, people who have a criminal record tend to also have more difficulty obtaining a job, housing, or educational opportunities as compared to those who have never needed to put forth a criminal defense in their lifetimes.
Types of diversion programs
Diversion programs can take many forms and are in numerous communities throughout Louisiana and the U.S. Some of the most common diversion programs work with people who may have convictions for non-violent crimes.
Other diversion programs seek to help those who live with mental health challenges by creating call lines for mental health crisis issues rather than having individuals call 911 for help. Other programs include creating stronger social service opportunities to connect people to affordable housing, food, and employment options.
Diversion programs can be a great resource to the community. They help prevent crime and can lower the strain on the criminal justice system. Ultimately, the goal is to provide an alternative to institutionalization and provide people with the ability to lead better lives.