CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Levine et al. on Deflection, Diversion, and Drug Offenders

Kay LevineJoshua Hinkle and Elizabeth Griffiths (Emory University School of Law, Georgia State University and Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey - Rutgers Law School) have posted Making Deflection the New Diversion for Drug Offenders (Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law, Vol. 19, No. 1, 2022) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
In this paper we argue that prosecutors ought to embrace deflection programs for substance users who commit low-level offenses. Deflection programs provide services to substance users and other vulnerable populations before, or outside of, the point of arrest. They offer participants voluntary admission and wrap-around services to help them get back on their feet – out from under the threat of incarceration if they relapse. Innovators have embraced the term “deflection” because the goal is to keep the substance user out of the justice system entirely, and to provide a warm handoff to service providers instead of a cold transport to county jail.

The benefits of prosecutor involvement are numerous.
County-level prosecutors can, for example, positively influence police and community buy-in, coordinate programming across a much larger terrain than cities alone can handle, run interference for offenders in court, and open up access to new funding streams. Moreover, their involvement in deflection partnerships would reflect a deep commitment to disentangling substance abuse treatment from criminal justice control, thereby enhancing perceptions of procedural justice in disadvantaged communities.

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