Webinar: Legal and Policy Issues With Youth Diversion Programs

Updated May 11, 2023 | Posted April 24, 2023
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
A young woman listens as an older woman counsels her and another young person.

On Wednes­day, May 10, 2023, the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion host­ed a webi­nar that offers rec­om­men­da­tions to com­mu­ni­ties and juris­dic­tions aim­ing to cre­ate and imple­ment youth diver­sion pro­grams. Youth diver­sion pro­grams use approach­es that steer youth away from the legal sys­tem and into com­mu­ni­ty-based, sup­port­ive ser­vices in lieu of for­mal court processing.

The one-hour event cov­ered ways to proac­tive­ly — and suc­cess­ful­ly — address many of the like­ly com­mon legal and pol­i­cy issues faced when imple­ment­ing diver­sion pro­grams. It drew upon Address­ing Legal Issues in Youth Diver­sion: A Toolk­it, cre­at­ed by the UCLA School of Law Crim­i­nal Jus­tice Pro­gram with sup­port from the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion and the Lib­er­ty Hill Foundation.

Pan­elists included:

Dur­ing the webi­nar, pan­elists shared their first­hand expe­ri­ences nav­i­gat­ing legal con­sid­er­a­tions in cre­at­ing and imple­ment­ing Los Ange­les County’s youth diver­sion pro­grams. In Los Ange­les Coun­ty, eli­gi­ble youth are divert­ed to com­mu­ni­ty-based ser­vice providers, either before arrest or at the pros­e­cu­to­r­i­al lev­el, with the goal of reduc­ing involve­ment in the jus­tice sys­tem. Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the Depart­ment of Youth Devel­op­ment and UCLA School of Law’s Crim­i­nal Jus­tice Pro­gram dis­cussed their collaboration.

The pan­elists also rec­om­mend­ed juris­dic­tions with diver­sion pro­grams estab­lish part­ner­ships with legal ser­vices providers on behalf of the youth in those pro­grams and their fam­i­lies. A juve­nile arrest can raise numer­ous ques­tions about con­se­quences relat­ed to a diver­sion refer­ral, such as record seal­ing or civ­il legal issues, regard­less of whether the youth is processed through the juve­nile legal sys­tem. The webi­nar includ­ed a dis­cus­sion of the impor­tance of diver­sion pro­grams hav­ing the resources to help youth and their fam­i­lies nav­i­gate these entanglements.

Learn How Los Ange­les Coun­ty Expand­ed Youth Diversion

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