Pre-trial Diversion Programs

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Pre-trial diversion programs are voluntary alternatives to thetraditional criminal justice processing. The available researchindicates that these diversion programs have been instrumental inchanging the behavior of offenders including alcoholics, drugabusers, and mental health patients among others (Camilletti, 2010).There are various approaches that are applicable for specificoffender groups in the community. They include

Pre-booking Diversion Programs

In this approach, the program diverts the criminal justice processbefore an offender gets charged in court or a committed crime. Thepre-booking program keep has kept offenders out of jail, and it aimsat offenders with mental health illness and related disorders(Camilletti, 2010). The personnel working in the criminal justicesystem have been trained to identify such individuals and recommendthem for the program after certifying that they harbor all thecharacteristics that are necessary for the admission of offendersinto the program (Camilletti, 2010). Upon spotting such offenders,the criminal justice workers divert the individual to treatmentrather than booking him/her in the court. They terminate any legalproceedings that may have been taken up against the offender.

Post-booking Diversion Program

It is the most prevalent form of pre-trial diversion program. Theprogram operates on the same principle as the pre-booking diversionprogram. It diverts offenders with mental illness and relateddisorders from the due process of the criminal justice system.However, offenders have to be booked in the courts before undergoingan assessment to determine their admissibility into the program(Camilletti, 2010). After being charged and admission n into theprogram, any legal charges raised against the offenders are droppedafter the successful completion of the diversion program. Thediversion program workers act as the link between the offenders, thecommunity and the court and they monitor the offenders to present areport on their successful completion or failure to comply with theprovisions of the diversion program.

The homeless people in Philadelphia are record high incidences ofmental illness coupled with drug abuse. The biopsychosocial model ofassessment shows that this population I vulnerable to a continueddrug use and unattended mental health. According to Substance Abuseand Mental Health Services Administration, 11.8% of the homelesspeople in Philadelphia abuse drugs and they suffer from mentalillnesses (SAMHSA, 2011). First, these homeless people live in thestreets where the sale of drugs in the dungeons is rampant. Secondly,most of them do not engage in any form of productive work, and theycannot raise enough money for rehabilitation and medical care.Therefore, without the intervention of another party, most of themmay end up in jail after being apprehended for drug use.

The pre-booking diversion program can be an effective method tochange the behavior of the drug abusers in the streets inPhiladelphia. There are two rationales for choosing this method.First, the target population is known, and it is, therefore, easy forthe diversion program workers to conduct a quick assessment beforeadmitting them into the program. Secondly, most of the offenders livetogether and homeless individuals. A collective change of behavioris, therefore, possible if the program employs a scaling up approachfrom one street to another. However, the program may not yieldsustainable outcomes without having a multi-approach on the problemfacing the offenders in the streets. To have desirable outcomes,there is need to improve their living environment by having themengage in productive work and get access to housing.


Camilletti, C.(2010). Pretrial diversion programs. Bureau of Justice Assistance.Retrieved from

SAMHSA. (2011).Current statistics on the prevalence and characteristics of peopleexperiencing homelessness in the United States. Human RightsCampaign. Retrieved from