The Diversion Program was developed in part to try and keep youth out of the juvenile justice system. It was established in Clark County in 1980 with a mission to decrease the number of youth cited into the formal court system and to minimize the criminalization of first-time and when appropriate second time status and misdemeanor offenders.
Youth assigned to the Diversion Program are expected to accept responsibility for their actions by admitting to their pending charge during an informal hearing with a diversion officer.
A decision is made by the diversion officer outlining the appropriate consequences for these offenders at which time a plan is developed by the youth, his/her parents and the diversion officer outlining his/her conditions of unofficial probation. The maximum length of time that a child is supervised on Diversion is 120 days. Participants who violate the terms of their informal probation rules or contract, face the possibility of appearing before a judicial officer and having their case disposed on the official court docket.
Officers assigned to the Diversion Program utilize many of the same consequences and services offered through standard probation programming. They include probation supervision, crisis intervention, referring clients to community social service agencies, community service/restitution programming, and mentoring.
Cases are assigned to Diversion with the following criteria in mind: lack of prior court referrals, the age of the offender, the seriousness of the charge (felonies excluded), the cooperation level of the offender and/or the family and the degree of risk the child poses to himself/herself and/or the community.