Diversion and Prevention

Learn about approaches that connect young people who have made mistakes to immediate, community-based responses and divert — and even prevent — young people from further encountering the legal system.

Casey’s focus on sys­tem diver­sion and pre­ven­tion cen­ters on how juris­dic­tions across the coun­try choose to address ado­les­cent mis­be­hav­ior. It empha­sizes con­nect­ing young peo­ple to the sup­port, ser­vices and oppor­tu­ni­ties they need to nav­i­gate ado­les­cence — apply­ing knowl­edge of what works with young peo­ple to set them up for success. 

The evi­dence is clear that address­ing ado­les­cent behav­ior with for­mal juve­nile jus­tice sys­tem respons­es is asso­ci­at­ed with ongo­ing sub­se­quent delin­quen­cy and dimin­ished long-term suc­cess. Arrests harm young people’s well-being even if the arrest doesn’t lead to a for­mal case in juve­nile court. In fact, research shows that any con­tact with police neg­a­tive­ly affects young peo­ple, con­tribut­ing to high­er dropout rates, low­er col­lege atten­dance, less earned income and more. These effects are espe­cial­ly dam­ag­ing for Black and Lati­no youth.

Youth and young adults are hard-wired to test lim­its. Rather than crim­i­nal­ize their actions, young peo­ple may be guid­ed toward mak­ing an apol­o­gy, repair­ing the harm they caused and, in the process, expand­ing their capac­i­ty for empa­thy and accountability.

From the Blog

Two young men — one Black and one Brown — sit side by side at a table while working on an elaborate project involving colorful wires.

Divert Youth From Prosecution With Promising State and Local Efforts

A Casey-funded report makes the case for expanding the use of diversion in addressing youth misbehavior. Learn about these efforts.

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