Method: Data were collected from the above-noted group of justice-involved individuals receiving qualifying services in a diversion program in a mid-sized metropolitan area. The sample includes n=757 people. Researchers used the open-source statistical programming language R to match diversion client data to openly available county-level public court system data using the clients' names and dates of birth. The county data used were from the same locality as the diversion programming. The diversion data included clients' start date or the date they first began participating in the diversion program and their end date when they left the program. The study was based on a newer community organization launching only two years ago and during the COVID-19 pandemic, so researchers combine a year of diversion data, with one year of jail data, from the same time frame.
Results: Results indicate that those who completed the diversion program were substantially less likely to be booked into jail. Of the 81 people who completed the program, just three were booked back into the jail after their completion date (3.7%). Recidivism rates were comparatively higher among those who received only emergency services (29 of 109, or 26.6%, were re-booked after their end date), those who disengaged from the program (172 of 551, or 31.22% re-booked), or those who were discharged from the program before completing it (5 of 16, or 31.25% re-booked).
Conclusion: Findings suggest the importance of retention in diversion programming. Also, forensic social work leads and supports multidisciplinary teams that combine program treatment, rehabilitation, and support services for individuals subject to the criminal justice system. Therefore, this study will provide resources for the future researcher, policymakers, and forensic social workers to improve the efficacy of diversion-related services.