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Young Adult Diversion Program Offers Alternative to Criminal Prosecution

Thursday, May 19, 2022
The Young Adult Diversion program is designed to work with eligible young people as an alternative to criminal prosecution. The diversion program operates under a pre-arraignment model and can be either pre- or post-complaint. Diversion allows a young person the opportunity to complete an individually-tailored program in lieu of prosecution and may include conditions such as educational programs, counseling, community service, working with housing, letters of apology, and restitution.

The goal of the program is to address the underlying problems(e.g., homelessness, mental health issues, substance use) that may have contributed to the person committing a prosecutable offense.

Cambridge Police Department (CPD) has successfully worked with juveniles through the nationally renowned Safety Net Collaborative implemented in 2008. The Department’s Family and Social Justice Section (FSJS) has worked to expand its diversion efforts with young adults (ages 18-26). CPD partnered with the Middlesex DA’s Office and their Young Adult Diversion Program to increase the capacity for young adults in Cambridge to access diversion.

A team from CPD’s Family and Social Justice section that includes both sworn officers and clinical staff meets regularly with the diversion team from the DA’s office to discuss cases to determine eligibility and draft terms of diversion.

Since FY21, 21 young adults were enrolled in the program. In 2021, due to the Department’s diversion efforts and continued partnerships, the number of Cambridge juveniles arrested represented the lowest number since the Safety Net Collaborative was established. In FY23, the FSJS and Criminal Investigations Section (CIS) will continue to build upon these partnerships to expand and increase our options for referrals to services and supports for young adult diversion candidates.
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