Practicing law for over 25 years, the Vista Criminal Attorney Law Firm has represented and guided many that were charged with a drug crime through the Diversion Program throughout the Vista, CA and the entire North County area. Read on to get more insights on diversion program in California and how the process works.

What is the Diversion Program?

The California State Department of Corrections runs an alternative program that gives precedence to probationary incarceration in boot camp style barracks. The program is characterized by life skills and apprentice training. The diversion program alleviates conviction and the final criminal record while giving offenders rehabilitation to recoup from any social-related factors that may have led to the commission if a crime.

The diversion program approaches the deviation from traditional practices of criminal justice and case processing. A critical component in the California justice system is to focus on defendants with substance abuse or mental health issues. Diversion programs are limited to low-risk defendants with first-time offenses and have no apparent overarching standards for collecting or publishing data to evaluate program purposes against sets of performance milestones and cost saving.

Why Diversion Programs are Important to Offenders?

Population explosions at state and county prisons have necessitated the state’s application of diversionary programs. In the state of California, the court system favors less incarceration especially for misdemeanors and guilty pleas in infraction crimes. This alternate form of detention and diversionary programs results in less congested jails and penitentiaries, and the low-risk offenders get a reprieve from doing a hard time. 

Non-custodial settings placement forms part of the sentence augmented by rehabilitation such as a split sentence, a work release program, home detention, electronic monitoring, or an earned discharge. Probation will entail supervision by a special court in view of diversionary punishment where community service and placement may be in-house detention facilities.

A fine will sometimes apply, especially in economic crimes and mandatory substance treatment or vocational training. Offenders can also apply for diversion placements or discretionary conditions like the early release from electronic monitoring or referral to therapy. There are various forms of diversionary restrictions that an offender can incur in California, including;

Local programs

A jail sentence is committed to weekends or non-consecutive days of the week. In sentences of 30 days or less, some jurisdictions in California State require offenders to attend a sentence from Friday night till Sunday night. To qualify for a local program for weekend jail sentence, proof of employment is required. A work release is also part of the employed offender’s option for sentences longer than a month.

The individual leaves jail in the morning to attend work and comes back in the evening. In case of medical conditions that will hamper an offender’s facility integration, home incarceration is in some rare cases is granted. Los Angeles, CA, for instance, has day reporting sentences requiring offenders to come in daily and undergo need-based services assessments. These sometimes last longer than actual traditional prison incarceration.

Alternative Felony Charge Programs

These may include detention, diversion, and drug court or in-patient rehabilitation. To rid an individual of substance addiction, they must undergo a rigorous treatment and conditioning program. Success at rehabilitation is dependent on the completion of the program and is available for drug offenders and probationers.

Who is Eligible for Diversion Probation?

Eligibility into the detention and diversion program within the state of California will entail a court sentence, withdrawal of traditional incarceration and removal from the program of assessment probation. The Diversion center incarceration program includes payment of costs and emoluments or charges incurred within the vestiges of the detention facilities

As defined in the Constitution of the United States of America, sentences for non-violent felonies for offenders requiring more security and supervision or probation violators will be considered for the provision of intensive probation monitoring or assessment. Defendants may be committed to a diversion program under federal, state or county incarceration and rehabilitation facilities within the country.

Diversion Process for a Defendant in California

Defendants may be ordered to undergo evaluation and diagnosis for a resultant number of days for probation compliance upon motion is candidature for commitment to diversion center incarceration program. A defendant not charged with a new offense but subject to probation revocation and scoring incarcerate on probation guidelines for the violation and agrees to participate, court or parole offices may commit to evaluation and diversion inclusion.

If determined that diversion is the best alternative for a defendant and the state’s interests, and where the facilities are ready for confinement, recommendations by the diversion and detention department in writing shall recommend commitment to the program. When the court rules that the defendant stands to benefit from the diversionary detention; and program completion success will follow re-entry into productive society, an enrollment ensues after receiving assessor’s or probation officer’s recommendations and making determinations.

Once the court deems it fit to enroll into a detention and diversion program, the defendant shall be sentenced for incarceration, and then the sentence shall then be suspended allowing for a detainee to be placed into probation. In the case of a prior probation violation, such a defendant shall be committed to further diversionary incarceration. Upon completion of the diversionary program, a defendant is then to be released under intensive monitoring for the period specified where they’ll be subjected to regular probation for not less than 12 months.

What Requirements Lead to Release from Diversion Probation?

The successful completion and release from detention shall be augmented by a specific requirement that the defendant must fulfill. These so-called terms and conditions include employment finding and maintaining and attending to community service or restitution. The defendant may also pay any and all fines or court costs arising from the diversionary process, and substance addiction treatment is mandatory where pertinent. The preserve to appropriate any further conditions or requirements rests with the court may.

A defendant might withdraw from the program or is expelled due to noncompliance as defined in article 19.2-316.1. In these cases or where other terms and conditions have not been met, the probable cause shall be needed from the defendant to prevent the revocation of diversionary probation; and or sentence suspension.

If found to be culpable and guilty of violating diversionary probation, the court shall revoke all or part of the suspended sentence; the defendant is then committed as otherwise stipulated § 19.2-316.1. These stipulations may include a sentence towards payments such as for defraying his diversionary probation costs.

What Does The Diversion Probation Entail?

Facilities that are primarily detention and diversion centers in the state of California are armed with program expectations that include; intensive supervision which entails systematic regime monitoring and drug screening with the maintenance or abstinence geared to addiction freedom. On-site therapy sessions geared towards easier social integration with moral therapy and recognition adjustments coupled with life restructuring

After successful completion and compliance with the diversion program, a defendant continues to attend some aspects of the probation that include; support from groups that graduates attend to maintain balance. A relapse prevention program that focuses on drug relapse tools and combating techniques and mentorship assistance where members mentor other detainees or graduates. Community service depending on physical ability; 240 hours of community work is allotted while the probationary services facilitate presentence investigation reports on the defendant’s background to help the court determine suitability to less stringent constraints and conditions.

A defendant must prove their service goals including implementing society protecting skills and meeting varied special needs in the community. The successful completion of the diversionary program requires clean referrals from the board of probations and parole, the DAS office, courts and community based correctional facilitators. The California Department of Corrections funds the program with the client’s fees, misdemeanor probation program fines, and assistance from federal and corporate stakeholders.

Background of the California Diversion Program

Since the Detention and Diversion program's inception in 1995, a boot camp program with a military-style regime, remedial education, life skills, and education had been the forte at facilities across the US state of California. In 2002 the boot camp program proved inefficient and too involving leading to the shutdown and closure of some facilities. During the peak of its operations, the entire program had a 930-bed capacity compared to the 523 beds available today in a total of five facilities.

As part of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative in 2002, the detention and diversion program was evaluated by the Council for State Governments with an objective to determine its effectiveness. The initiative's research; falling in line with changes and developments in the correctional department, unearthed findings towards the inefficiency of the program such as;

  • The program's model was non-sufficient to mold offending behavior.       
  • Evidence-based practices were not being well utilized.
  • Talking cures were being implemented in the place of best practices.
  • Rather than balance, sanctions were being overemphasized as behavioral reinforcements.
  • Professional skill acquisition was not part of the graduation requirements.
  • Nearly half of the detainees of the program were at a tenable risk of reoffending

In some facilities, the Council for State Governments also found that some practices or lack thereof fell below state and federal correctional principles of not mixing low risk and high-risk detainees in detention and diversion facilities. There was also continuing allocation of extended detention and diversion resources on low-risk offenders. As a result of these malfunctions, it was realized that nearly half of low-risk detainees were being rearrested in one or two years.  More than half of high-risk detainees as well ended up in detention within two years of release.

Implementations by the Justice Reinvestment Initiative

To, therefore, implement a program that reduced crime and was held accountability by the taxpayer for results, the panel called for the need to have;

  • Employees of detention and diversion facilities performing only the effective services
  • The courts and other stakeholders increasing their dependency on diversion incarceration and treatment services.
  • Communication between referral and facility improved to enhance re-entry efforts
  • The mingling of the high and low-risk detainees to be curbed at all facilities despite parity.
  • Treatment responsiveness becomes the main factor to consider in the case of a flexible modification to the length of stay needs.
  • Staff freedom from administrative screening and referrals was allowing more program or probationer particular time.

Some previous factors of operation in the Detention and Diversion program were left untouched such as how officers from the probation services coordinated referral process and screening requirements. The structures in the facilities operational were also left intact and functioning as usual with their daily operations maintained. Offenders being held accountable and incurring institutional charges where necessary within the core programs remained the diversion program's primary objective.

Communications between offenders, staff, and others remained professional, respectful and non-judgmental while the performance of community service opportunities for offenders continued to be available. Other new elements to the diversion program for California that the Justice Reinvestment Initiative recommended be factored in were; a centralized referral unit of state operations for diversion and an enhanced individual risk, responsiveness and needs programming. The completion of this program was to be based on meeting minimum treatment requirements to rehabilitative success.

The target for the program was to be expanded to include the entire state of California’s populace coupled with facility expansions. Inclusive medical admission with full coverage extensions was to be introduced at diversion facilities, and mild mental illness case offenders being accepted at detention facilities.

Current California State Diversion Climate

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation provides the alternatives to custody incarceration of offenders. Detention is usually opted out on for an accountable, cost-effective, and public safety conscious diversion program. A 2009 federal court addressed the overcrowding in state penitentiaries and the impetuous reduction of the county prison population by 2016. The state of California responded in 2011 by implementing the Public Safety Realignment in 2011, that saw the factors of high-cost incarcerations done away with.

Overall numbers of low-risk offenders under incarceration has decreased, though those in prison or jail versus diversion and probation haven’t changed much. A substantial increase in offender percentage in counties correctional facilities has been witnessed in California, though the state is making the best use of the resources available in the system. Where parole violations have necessitated rejection from the diversion program, the state uses alternatives like detention in facility housing, home detention, and electronic monitoring.

The Board of State and Community Corrections Unit of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is responsible for placing diversion violators into alternative detention programs. A referral unit oversees transfers between facilities due to needs for treatment and other compliance issues. For state and county detention and diversion core program, the mission at all facilities has become dedicated to substance abuse intensive treatment, extensive cognitive behavioral treatment, and vocational or professional education training.

Detention and Diversion programs may run into a year or up to 18 months, and the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation facilities handle the referral processes routed through a Sacramento Board of State and Community Corrections Unit. This enables individual risk, responsiveness and needs factors to base admission into the detention and diversion program’s facilities and the ultimate successful probation completion.

Current California County Diversion Program Objectives

County boards of corrections have appeared to use a more extensive range of alternatives such as authorizing diversionary administrators to run voluntary or involuntary Alternative Custody Programs. Where a substance or behavioral modification is unnecessary, home detention and work release are two other fallbacks on diversion alternatives in California counties. In-house, detention locations are employed by some programs where offenders serve detention for diversion or parole violations.

Monitoring by electronic or GPS devices is mainly applied in both facility, and home detentions and counties have developed their program rules and criteria, including application and daily living fees. Work release programs allow offenders sentenced to jail at the county level to make up for it on community service projects. These may include picking up roadside trash and repairing buildings that are publicly owned. A diversion participant receives a sentence credit worth one day for every 8 to 10 hours served in these work programs.

Counties have been motivated to expand existing diversion custody programs and authorized the use of split sentencing and flash incarceration as new tools to lessen the prison population pressure. County diversion programs now include realigned offenders who have committed non-serious, non-violent or non-sexual offenses; and who are eligible for traditional incarceration. The option of diversion programs for offenders is now substance and cognitive rehabilitation work release programs, home detention and electronic monitoring programs. Drug tests and flash detentions at unspecified intervals during their diversion sentences relegate the offender's eligibility for placement.

How Can I Find A Diversion Program Lawyer Near Me?

Call Vista Criminal Attorney if you are either charged for a non-violent crime, and/or heading for detention at 760-691-1551. Whether you are looking for a moderate needs offense or high treatment ones, our firm holds extensive diversion program experience to give you a solid legal advice. Our criminal defense attorney is available throughout the Vista, CA and the greater North County.