The Concept of Diversion

Posted on: 16th May 2023


Discuss the concept of diversion. In your opinion, which of the following three individuals would benefit most from a diversion program?

Frank Connelly, a fifty-five-year-old father of three from Western Pennsylvania who has just been arrested for possession of child pornography and has no prior arrests;

Phillip Ferns, an accountant for a mid-sized university in Ohio who has been arrested on several counts of embezzlement while stealing over 1.3 million dollars while working for the university;

Ryan Stahl, a former politician, now a private business owner, who was arrested for illegal possession of steroids and pain killers (400 Vicodins) with intent to deliver after being stopped for speeding. Explain your choice.

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The Concept of Diversion

Diversion is a cost-saving practice in criminal justice that involves an intervention that gives offenders a second chance to avoid a criminal record. The number of arrestees, inmates, and defendants in the criminal justice system has increased considerably over the last half-century. For example, in 2010, eight percent of the adult population in the United States had prior felony convictions, compared to three percent in the 1980s (Shannon et al., 2017). The diversion technique was implemented to help the rapid case growth challenge by allowing authorities to deal with the most severe offenders. Public officials may opt to halt, cancel, or divert one’s passage through the court system to prevent a criminal record. The diversion strategy is quite effective; for example, in 2009, a formal diversion agreement was reached among criminal defendants in the 75 major U.S. counties (Mueller-Smith & Schnepel, 2020). Diversion is practiced in the United States; it is also used in other countries such as England, France, and the Netherlands.

Diversion can be a program that the offender needs to attend, and on successful completion, they are granted their freedom without leaving a criminal record. An example of this program can be a drug program where the defendant must complete drug and substance abuse classes instead of facing criminal charges. Offenders with a criminal record are often stigmatized, and even for the reformed, life can still be difficult for them. To avoid this lifelong stigmatization, court systems intervene through the diversion program, which will help eliminate the criminal conviction record. Furthermore, diversion helps in improving an offender’s self-sufficiency and minimizing further criminal activity. Most people disapprove of the diversion program by arguing that dangerous offenders might go free. However, this program is only practiced in the case of low-level offenders or people with no criminal record. Moreover, immunity is only granted to offenders who have completed the program. Otherwise, the offender is convicted following all necessary court procedures.

Diversion programs can be educational classes, counseling sessions, rehabilitation, support groups, anger management therapy, or community service. For example, after being caught speeding, Ryan Stahl, a former politician who is now a private business owner, was arrested for illegal possession of steroids and painkillers (400 Vicodins) with intent to deliver. Due to the illegal possession of steroids and painkillers, Ryan could face approximately one year sentence, which may not seem to be a lot. However, the criminal conviction record will remain in his records permanently. Conviction records eliminate the chance to resume an everyday life and increase the chances of committing another offense. According to Kuveke-Guyton (2021), prosecuting and punishing drug offenses did not reduce drug levels. Instead of tainting Ryan’s record with drug charges, the court could recommend a pretrial diversion program. Therefore, Ryan should undergo a diversion program, and on successful completion, immunity will be granted, and Ryan will not have a permanent criminal record.

Considerably, criminal justice systems are already facing many cases to prosecute. Hence the adoption of diversion programs. Society and the criminal justice system benefit from diversion programs. People can improve their behavior without fear of the implications of a criminal record if alternatives to criminal convictions are available. Furthermore, these programs assist the criminal justice system focus on serious crime cases, reducing expenses by eliminating unneeded probations, and generating cash.



Kuveke-Guyton, J. L. (2021, February 2). Drug possession and pretrial diversion. Cbsw Law.

Mueller-Smith, M., & T. Schnepel, K. (2021). Diversion in the criminal justice system. The Review of Economic Studies88(2), 883-936.

Shannon, S. K., Uggen, C., Schnittker, J., Thompson, M., Wakefield, S., & Massoglia, M. (2017). The growth, scope, and spatial distribution of people with felony records in the United States, 1948–2010. Demography54(5), 1795-1818.

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