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Pre-Charge Diversion

CJJP is working towards increasing the implementation of pre-charge diversion programs across Iowa. Pre-charge diversion programs are pre-court interventions that law enforcement and communities can utilize as an alternative to juvenile court processing or the imposition of formal charges against low-risk youth. This approach reduces reoffending by minimizing youth contact with the juvenile justice system and diverting youth toward community-based services that address their psychosocial development and issues that contribute to delinquency. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention rates diversion as a promising practice and law enforcement-initiated diversion as an effective practice for reducing delinquent behavior. 

Iowa Code §232.2 32A defines “Juvenile diversion program” as an organized effort to coordinate services for a child who is alleged to have committed a delinquent act, when the organized effort results in the dismissal of a complaint alleging the commission of the delinquent act or results in informally proceeding without a complaint being filed against the child, and which does not result in an informal adjustment agreement involving juvenile court services or the filing of a delinquency petition. 

In 2019, Iowa’s Juvenile Justice Advisory Council (JJAC), which serves as the State Advisory Group (SAG) and CJJP partnered with the Center for Children’s Law and Policy (CCLP) to study effective and evidence-based early (pre-charge) diversion policies, practices, and programs for youth. The resulting product from this partnership was a robust pre-charge diversion toolkit. The toolkit provides information and resources to support communities in creating or enhancing pre-charge diversion programs and policies. These resources include a model diversion agreement, data collection guidelines, and tools to help focus early diversion on incidents that might otherwise lead to an arrest and referral to juvenile court.

In 2021, CJJP launched a web-based application that is used by pre-charge diversion program providers to track youth referrals and participation. CJJP cross references case-level information entered into the web-based application with the Justice Data Warehouse to assess recidivism. This data is used to  evaluate the effectiveness of pre-charge diversion programs and inform program improvement efforts.