How Vermont Court Diversion Works

                The mission of Vermont court diversion programs is to engage community members in responding to the needs of crime victims, the community, and those who violated the law, holding the latter accountable in a manner that promotes responsible behavior.

                Court Diversion is a restorative alternative for individuals charged with a crime. After police issue a citation for violating the law, the state’s attorney decides whether to refer the person out of the court system to the community-based Court Diversion program.

A person referred to Diversion
   ·   chooses whether to participate or not – participation is voluntary,
   ·   admits responsibility for his/her actions,
   ·   meets with a board of community volunteers and completes a contract designed to repair the harm done to the victim and the larger community, and address underlying factors in the individual’s life that contributed to the crime,
   ·   pays a fee, and
   ·   avoids a permanent criminal record if s/he completes the program successfully.

Other key aspects of Diversion:
   ·   Victims’ views are heard and reflected in the contract developed by the Review Board and participant
   ·   Case managers support participants through the process to successful completion
If an individual does not complete the contract, the case is returned to the state’s attorney for prosecution.

CD VS Court

BENEFITS OF COURT DIVERSION

 By following a restorative justice approach of addressing the needs of crime victims, the offender, and the community, Diversion provides benefits to many individuals and the community.

Benefits for victims may include:
   ·   financial restitution for their loss
   ·   a written or in-person apology
   ·   the opportunity to voice their views and participate in a restorative justice process
   ·   learning about the circumstances surrounding the offense
   ·   knowledge of the effectiveness of Diversion in preventing future criminal behavior

Benefits for offenders include:
   ·   avoiding a criminal conviction record
   ·   making  amends to victims and the community in a meaningful way
   ·   helping to decide how to repair the harm they’ve done — through this process, people can really learn from the experience and are less likely to get in trouble with the law again

Benefits for the community include:
   ·   volunteers taking an active role in being a part of a restorative justice process
   ·   effectiveness of Diversion in preventing future criminal behavior (0ver 84% of successful Diversion participants from 2007-2009 were not subsequently charged with committing a crime up to two years after completing Diversion)
   ·   cost-effective method (Court Diversion holds offenders accountable outside the costly court system at an average cost of approximately $200 to the State)
   ·   an alternative that relieves pressure on a crowded court system so prosecutors and others can focus time and energy on significant crime without losing sight of other offenses (The percentage of misdemeanor cases resolved through Diversion has increased each year since 2006 up to close to 10%)