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Minnesota Juvenile Diversion: A summary of statewide practices and programming.

Swayze, Dana
June 4, 2015

Source: (2012) Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Justice Programs.

n 2009, the Minnesota Legislature required a study to be completed on “the feasibility of collecting and
reporting summary data relating to the decisions that affect a child’s status within the juvenile justice system.”2
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Justice Programs (OJP) was appointed to produce a report
identifying the key decision points in the juvenile justice system and assessing Minnesota’s ability to collect data
on youth at each point.
A workgroup of more than 50 representatives from law enforcement, county attorneys, juvenile courts, juvenile
probation, juvenile correctional facilities, academia, policy and advocacy groups, and community members was
convened throughout the year to discuss the legislative requirement. The final report, Juvenile Justice System
Decision Points Study: Strategies to Improve Minnesota’s Juvenile Justice Data (2010), illuminated that one area
with a significant gap in state-level information was juvenile diversion services and outcomes:
“While many law enforcement agencies use diversion programs for youth in lieu of formal
referral to the county attorney, and while county attorneys are required by statute to have at
least one diversion program for juvenile offenders in lieu of a referral to juvenile court, there is
no comprehensive list of these programs in the state. It is unknown how many diversion
programs exist, in what counties they operate, what youth populations are served, and with
what degree of success…”
A specific recommendation of the Juvenile Justice System Decision Points Study was to create a comprehensive
list of law enforcement and county attorney diversion programs, including the type of program provided; program duration; referral source/method; and type of offender eligible to participate. One purpose of this
report is to fulfill the Juvenile Justice System Decision Points Study recommendation and to publicly disseminate
information regarding juvenile diversion. A secondary goal of this report is to present information on evidencebased practices in juvenile diversion programming, where they exist, and compare these practices to diversion in
Finally, exploration of juvenile diversion data relates to compliance with the federal Juvenile Justice and
Delinquency Prevention Act of 2002 (JJDPA). This federal act requires that states receiving certain federal funds
collect data on the number, race and ethnicity of youth served at nine pre-determined points in the juvenile
justice system. These data must be reported annually to the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency
Prevention for states to continue to be eligible for federal funding. One required data collection point is the
decision to divert youth from formal court processing. Because juvenile diversion activities are subject to local
control, and because there is no state-level database for referrals received or cases diverted by county
attorneys, Minnesota has been unable to provide diversion data at this required decision point. This report
examines whether and how diversion programs collect participant data, which may inform future state-level
data collection and analysis activities in support of the JJDPA. (excerpt)


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