Juvenile Diversion Program
While it is recognized that some juveniles commit serious offenses and may need to be confined within a secure setting, research has shown that many juveniles that enter the juvenile justice system are there for relatively minor offenses, have mental health issues, or just made a bad decision due to immaturity and inexperience. Diversion programs are an alternative to formal involvement in the juvenile justice system.
Juvenile diversion programs allow individuals under the age of eighteen, who commit acts that would be crimes if they were eighteen years old or older, to be directed away from more formal juvenile justice system involvement. Diversion is based on the belief that formal system processing and/or incarceration of juveniles often lead to a greater likelihood of future criminal behavior, and that alternatives such as diversion are better for long term development and success of the juvenile.
By creating informal channels to navigate juveniles away from traditional processing, diversion programs serve as opportunities to correct antisocial behavior and help the juvenile become a productive member of society.
The Aurora Police Department, in conjunction with the Portage County Juvenile Court and The Portage County Prosecutor’s Office, carefully screen juveniles that are involved in criminal behavior. Repeat offenders are generally processed through the court system. First Offenders involved in activities that are illegal, but more closely resemble pranks and foolish or immature acts, are interviewed, and a determination is made whether a diversion program is the proper fit.
The goal is to stop the behavior that is unacceptable, without destroying all of the positive progress that the juvenile has made in his or her life to date. Examples of good progress include, but are not limited to: good grades, participation in school sports, participation in extracurricular activities, volunteer work, community service, college applications, jobs, and other social and community involvement that demonstrate that the juvenile is not likely to be a repeat offender.
Once accepted for diversion, the juveniles receive advice and counseling from Aurora Police Officers, write essays and apology letters, and preform community service. Each juvenile is informed that they can still be charged for their acts for two years, and that they only successfully complete the diversion program if they preform all of the required tasks and stay out of trouble for two years.