The Diversion Program is a voluntary alternative to the formal court process for most first time offending juveniles. The Prosecuting Attorney's Office may refer juveniles to the program based on law violations indicated in police reports. Eligible juveniles will have an opportunity to participate in the Diversion program rather than facing formal charges in Court. Participation in the Diversion Program is voluntary. If juveniles choose not to participate in the program, the case will go forward into the Court system for formal prosecution. In most cases, successful completion of the Diversion program means that the juvenile will not have a Court record.
The Diversion program involves contracts with juveniles and their families. Agreements may include, when applicable, community service work, apology letters, reports, restitution, participation in certain forms of programming, and random drug testing. The Diversion Program offers programs and courses for drug and alcohol issues, theft awareness, victim’s awareness and empathy, anger management, job skills development, and various groups designed to address social, emotional, and family concerns. Community partners may refer juveniles directly to some of these Diversion run resources. The Diversion staff supervises and maintains weekly contact with juveniles through the completion of the Diversion Agreement.
Diversion places an emphasis on early intervention, restorative justice practices, and in applying the “Balanced Approach” model to working with juveniles in order to hold juveniles accountable while simultaneously addressing competency development and community safety. Successful intervention and a reduction in recidivism is facilitated through close partnership with schools, community organizations, and professional agencies. Diversion is a cost effective method of dealing with first time offenders by eliminating the formal court proceedings while still holding the juvenile accountable and addressing underlying factors associated with each case.
The Kootenai County Diversion Program currently supervises about 400 cases each year, and has maintained an approximately 80% success rate since 1982.