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Diversion Programs: Justice Does Not Always Mean Jail

Diversion programs have been developed with the primary goal of redirecting people with mental health and substance abuse problems from the formal criminal justice process and instead using community based treatment programs to rehabilitate. For many non-violent crimes the community and the offender are better served getting the defendant the services needed to rehabilitate rather than jail.

Besides Pretrial Intervention, the Fifth Circuit (Richland and Kershaw) Counties District Court has several diversion programs including Drug Court and Veterans Court. These courts seek to address the needs of offenders whose criminal behavior was due to drug abuse and/or mental health problems and in the case of Veterans Court work with the Veterans Administration to address the needs of the defendant to help reduce recidivism.

These diversion programs provide strict supervision and frequent check-ins with the court to ensure defendants follow through with the agreed upon treatment plans. There are also guidelines for acceptance into these programs and program costs are shared with the defendant. The benefits exceed the high cost of housing these nonviolent offenders while providing more successful outcomes.

After successful completion of programs arrest records for the defendants, may be expunged.

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