The newly formed Adult Diversion Program by the 5th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, while not unique to Colorado, is the first of its kind in the district (including Clear Creek, Summit, Eagle and Lake counties).

Adult diversion programs take offenders out of the traditional court process and allow them to repair the harm they’ve caused to victims while participating in a structured program to repair themselves. A juvenile diversion program is already in existence with a proven record of success, according to the district attorney’s office.

The tenets of adult diversion are simple: offenders take responsibility for their action and sign a contract outlining the steps they can take to avoid a conviction. The contract terms that must be adhered to include regular check-ins with a district attorney staff member and participation in appropriate mental-health or substance treatment. Adhering to these and other contract terms, while avoiding new issues with the law, earns the offender a cleaner criminal record without suffering the ill effects associated with incarceration and conviction, all of which can impede future job prospects and disrupt families.

Benefits to the District Attorney’s Adult Diversion Program also include building healthier communities as offenders will often be required to perform community service, reducing taxpayer costs of housing people in jail or increasing jail bed space, where pressures continue to rise. According to information released this week by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, violent crime in Colorado increased 7.95% in 2018 compared to 2017. (See https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cbi/news/cbi-releases-2018-colorado-crime-stats .)

While the District Attorney’s Adult Diversion program will target serious offenses, many violent felony offenders will be ineligible for common-sense reasons of public safety.

“Not every offender deserves jail time, and not every crime deserves formal prosecution,” said Bruce Brown, 5th Judicial District Attorney. “We have to be smart with the way we use resources, and find better ways to assure justice by the wholistic approach within a diversion program. We imagine this as a ‘win-win’ for our communities, and will save lives by giving people who get off track a chance to do the right thing and ‘fly right’,” added Brown.

For more information about the program, go to: https://www.da5.us/programs-we-support/adult-diversion/, or contact adultdiversion@da5.us .

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