Webinar Series Reimagines Diversion From Juvenile Court

Posted December 10, 2019
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Adults participate in a training session

On Wednes­day, Dec. 11, and Mon­day, Dec. 16, the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s JDAIcon­nect will host a webi­nar series that imag­ines divert­ing sig­nif­i­cant­ly more young peo­ple from juve­nile court pro­cess­ing. Dur­ing the two-part series, Diver­sion Reimag­ined, experts will share how diver­sion could reduce deep­er sys­tem involve­ment for all young peo­ple, espe­cial­ly youth of color.

Stud­ies con­sis­tent­ly find that youth of col­or are divert­ed from juve­nile court far less fre­quent­ly than their white peers for sim­i­lar offens­es, despite research indi­cat­ing that diver­sion typ­i­cal­ly yields bet­ter out­comes than for­mal sys­tem involvement.


Casey’s vision for juve­nile pro­ba­tion trans­for­ma­tion calls for divert­ing a greater share of cas­es from the juve­nile court sys­tem — includ­ing for­mal court pro­cess­ing and any form of pro­ba­tion super­vi­sion — to uti­lize pro­ba­tion for youth at sig­nif­i­cant risk of reoffending.

The use of legal sanc­tions or court over­sight are appro­pri­ate for young peo­ple only if they have a his­to­ry of seri­ous or chron­ic offend­ing and pose a sig­nif­i­cant risk to pub­lic safe­ty,” explains Steve Bish­op, a senior asso­ciate at Casey who is lead­ing the pro­ba­tion trans­for­ma­tion work. Young peo­ple should not be adju­di­cat­ed or for­mal­ly processed for a first offense unless they have com­mit­ted a seri­ous vio­lent crime, and they should not be for­mal­ly processed or adju­di­cat­ed for most mis­de­meanors or first-time non­vi­o­lent felonies.”

Dur­ing the first ses­sion, Bal­anc­ing Account­abil­i­ty and Sup­port, experts will make the research case for expand­ing pre-adju­di­ca­tion diver­sion and shift­ing respon­si­bil­i­ty for diver­sion to com­mu­ni­ty-based orga­ni­za­tions. In the sec­ond ses­sion — How to Start a Diver­sion Pro­gram and Make it Work — the experts will dis­cuss their own expe­ri­ences launch­ing, imple­ment­ing and sus­tain­ing diver­sion efforts, such as restora­tive jus­tice and coun­sel­ing ini­tia­tives that keep young peo­ple in school and out of the jus­tice system.

Reg­is­ter for the Webinar


What: The Diver­sion Reimag­ined webi­nar series

Part 1: Bal­anc­ing Account­abil­i­ty and Support

Part 2: How to Start a Diver­sion Pro­gram and Make it Work

Par­tic­i­pants can reg­is­ter for one or both parts.


Part 1: Wednes­day, Dec. 11, 2019, at 1 p.m. ET

Part 2: Mon­day, Dec. 16, 2019 at 1 p.m. ET


  • Mod­er­a­tor John Cookus, assis­tant pro­fes­sor at Indi­ana Uni­ver­si­ty of Pennsylvania
  • Kevin Bethel, founder and exec­u­tive direc­tor of Law Enforce­ment Juve­nile Jus­tice Initiative
  • Jes­si­ca J. Ellis, exec­u­tive direc­tor of Cen­tinela Youth Ser­vices in Hawthorne, California
  • Bernard Williams, deputy admin­is­tra­tor for the Shel­by Coun­ty Juve­nile Court, which serves Mem­phis, Tennessee

The Pre­tri­al Jus­tice Insti­tute — Casey’s JDAI® train­ing part­ner — will lead each webinar.

Par­tic­i­pants can view the full series with­out join­ing JDAIcon­nect, the Foundation’s free online com­mu­ni­ty for JDAI prac­ti­tion­ers and peo­ple inter­est­ed in youth jus­tice. Mem­bers of JDAICon­nect will have the added ben­e­fit of access­ing online dis­cus­sions and addi­tion­al resources.

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