Juvenile Diversion is a community-based corrections program committed to the philosophy of Restorative Justice, which balances the needs of the victim, community, and offender. Youth who are eight to seventeen years old who are charged with their first or second misdemeanor(s) or certain Class "C" felony level offenses are eligible for Diversion as an alternative to the formal Juvenile Court system. Youth are referred by the Prosecuting Attorney's Office. Victims are contacted and invited to choose their level of participation in the Diversion process.
A Community Accountability Board (CAB), comprised of 3-5 citizen volunteers, meets with the youth and their family, reviews the offense and assigns appropriate consequences. Through Diversion, youth are provided the opportunity to "repair the harm" to the victim and community by paying restitution to victims and completing community restitution hours. In addition, youth may be assigned informational classes/counseling to build the skills they will need to effectively navigate in society. Program Eligibility Youth are referred by the Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office in accordance with Washington State law. In order to participate in the program, the youth must admit to committing the offense and be willing to cooperate fully with the Diversion Unit.
- Intake/assessment: All youth served by the Diversion program complete an intake/assessment. If there is an indication that the youth/family is in need of other community resources, referrals are provided.
- Case Monitoring: Case managers and volunteers monitor cases on a weekly basis to track the youths’ progress in completing their Diversion Agreements. If the youth have problems with their agreements, the staff work to assist them in successfully completing the requirements.
- Volunteers: Staff recruit, train, and provide support to community members to encourage their voluntary participation with the Diversion Program and Community Youth Services.
- Victims: Staff work with victims of the youths’ crimes to seek their input into cases and to determine if there remains any outstanding restitution.
450 youth each year are diverted from the formal court system by the Juvenile Diversion program. Each receives ‘due process’ and a printed ‘Advice About Diversion Rights’ form. Ninety percent of the youth successfully complete their Diversion Agreements and ninety percent of restitution dollars are collected from the offending youth and paid to their victims. Eighty community volunteers actively participate each year in the juvenile justice system by serving on Community Accountability Boards.
The parents or legal guardians of youth who receive Diversion services must pay for the services based upon their ability to pay. The fee is $150 per referral. In some circumstances, the case manager may determine that the parents or legal guardians are indigent and unable to pay any or all of the fee. In these cases, the fee may be reduced or waived.