The IMPACT Project and Lehigh County have been in partnership since 1999 to offer diversion programming to all eligible youth. In 2023, The IMPACT Project partnered with Northampton County to begin bringing diversion programming to all their eligible youth. Several other contiguous counties and select counties statewide are currently exploring similar partnerships with IMPACT to bring access to diversion services to their youth as well.
Pre-adjudication diversion is defined as providing opportunities for youth who would otherwise face formal processing in the court system so that they can avoid an adjudication of delinquency or conviction for a summary offense and instead directing them into an alternative program, including treatment when appropriate.
2023 Lehigh County Total Referrals
Pre-adjudication diversion can occur at various decision-making points in the juvenile justice system. It can provide alternatives for youth who have not yet entered the juvenile justice system but who are at imminent risk of being charged with a delinquent act, and can also channel youth who have been alleged to be delinquent away from formal court processing that could result in an adjudication of delinquency. Pre-adjudication diversion can occur at the school, law enforcement, magisterial district judge, and juvenile court levels. Examples of pre-adjudication diversion include a referral for service in lieu of the filing of a written allegation, various types of community accountability boards such as peer courts and youth aid panels, family/restorative group conferencing, informal adjustment and consent decree dispositions, summary offense alternative adjudication programs, and an adjudication of dependency in lieu of a delinquency adjudication.
2023 Lehigh County Community Justice Panel Referrals
2023 Lehigh County School Justice Panel Referrals (Urban)
2023 Lehigh County School Justice Panel Referrals (Suburban)
To further work in this last area, Pennsylvania formed its Mental Health/Juvenile Justice (MH/JJ) Workgroup. This group, comprised of representatives of the state’s juvenile justice, mental health, child welfare, drug and alcohol, and education systems, worked to find ways to better coordinate services for youth who become involved in the juvenile justice system. In 2006, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania issued the Mental Health/Juvenile Justice Joint Policy Statement (“Joint Policy Statement”) as a blueprint for creating a model system that responds appropriately to youth who may not need to become directly involved with the juvenile court (including those youth identified as being in need of mental health treatment).
The Diversion Committee of the MH/JJ Workgroup developed a document entitled “Guide to Developing Pre-Adjudication Diversion Policy and Practice in Pennsylvania” which lays out a vision of a model system that makes greater use of pre-adjudication diversion. This approach focuses on providing opportunities for youth who would otherwise face formal processing in the court system to avoid an adjudication of delinquency or conviction for a summary offense. Instead, youth are directed into an alternative program, including treatment when appropriate.
"Don’t let life discourage you; everyone who got where he is had to begin where he was."
CJP Recidivism Rate for summary offenses and low-level misdemeanors (13.5 year longitudinal study)
CJP Recidivism Rate including higher level misdemeanors (5 year longitudinal study)
* Control group had double the recidivism rate
SJP Recidivism Rate (5 year longitudinal study)