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An overview of diversion strategies for Australian drug-related offenders

Spooner, Catherine
June 4, 2015

Source: (2001) Drug and Alcohol Review.20: 281-294.

This paper provides a descriptive overview of options for diversion of drug-related offenders from
the criminal justice system. Drug-related offences include drug offences (for example, possession of
a prohibited substance); offences that are directly linked to intoxication (for example, drink-driving
or assault); and offences committed to support drug use (for example, theft). After an offence has
been detected by police, multiple opportunities for diversion occur throughout the criminal justice
process. (a) Pre-arrest: when an offence is first detected, prior to a charge being laid. This is known
as police diversion and includes fines, warnings and cautions, sometimes with educational
information or referral to assessment and treatment. (b) Pre-trial: when a charge is made but before
the matter is heard at court. Examples are treatment as a condition of bail, conferencing and
prosecutor discretion. (c) Pre-sentence: a delay of sentence while assessment and treatment are
sought. (d) Post-sentence: as part of sentencing, for example suspended sentences, drug courts, noncustodial sentences and circle sentencing. (e) Pre-release: prior to release from a sentence, on
parole. Issues for diversion programmes include net widening, the ethics of coercion to treatment,
the needs of families and intersectoral collaboration. A framework for diversion is presented in
which increasingly treatment-focused and coercive diversion strategies are used as offenders’
criminal careers and drug problems increase. (Author’s abstract.)


AbstractCourtsDiversionPolicePrisonsStatutes and Legislation
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