Webinar: Legal and Policy Issues With Youth Diversion Programs
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.
- Ali Haezeart, director, Healing Harms, California Conference for Equality and Justice;
- Taylor Schooley, research, policy and innovation program director, Los Angeles County Department of Youth Development; and
- Leah Zeidler-Ordaz, youth justice policy lead, UCLA School of Law Criminal Justice Program.
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.