Less Crime for Less Money
November 2016

Unlike most states, Massachusetts does not currently provide funding for or require juvenile diversion of any kind. Instead, police, district attorneys, and court personnel offer a discretionary and disparate array of programs and practices, with no requirements to follow best practices or track what they do. The result is that children across the Commonwealth receive starkly different opportunities to avoid court involvement depending on where they live.  Given the lack of statutory mandate or other support, efforts to offer these programs, which are voluntary and paid for out of existing funds, are laudable.  However, it is critical to assess whether the programs we pay for are offered fairly or are effective. 


  • Unnecessary prosecution and incarceration harms young people, undermines public safety, and costs Massachusetts tens of millions of dollars annually. 
  • Most cases in the Massachusetts Juvenile Courts are minor and pose little safety risk to the community. 
  • Diversion is more effective than formal system processing in reducing future delinquency. 
  • Diversion programs are less costly than formal system processing and provide a wealth of other benefits to young people and communities.


  • Create a statewide model for pre-arraignment diversion based on best practices .
  • Use validated screening tools to reduce unnecessary system contact.
  • Give the Court authority to divert prior to arraignment.
  • Require counties to collect data on diversion, and provide oversight and coordination to ensure consistent results

For a PDF copy of the report, please click HERE

For the complete "Massachusetts Juvenile Diversion Assessment Study" funded by the Office fo Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and the Massachusetts Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee, please click HERE.

Additional Resources:
Juvenile Diversion Guidebook. Models for Change Juvenile Diversion Workgroup.
It Takes a Village: Diversion Resources for Police and Families (infographic also available). VERA Institute