How Juvenile Diversion Benefits the District
Juvenile prosecution decisions require the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) to maintain public safety while keeping the District’s commitment to ensuring that young offenders have a chance for rehabilitation. The Alternatives to the Court Experience (ACE) Diversion Program is a creative, data-driven way to approach juvenile justice that strives for the best outcome for our community and for our young people.
What is the ACE Diversion Program?
Juvenile prosecutors at OAG go through a rigorous evaluation process with each juvenile offense to decide whether and how to charge the case. They carefully consider whether diversion from the justice system to ACE is appropriate.
The District’s Department of Human Services runs the ACE Diversion Program. When a child enters the the program, ACE specialists measure each child’s stress, level of trauma, and behavioral needs. ACE coordinators use this evaluation to develop a customized program of wrap-around services designed to help each child achieve success and avoid new criminal offenses. These services may include
- Individual and family therapy.
- Mental-health treatment.
- School support.
What are the benefits of ACE?
ACE benefits young offenders, their families and our community. The diversion program
- Changes the trajectory of young offenders’ lives by keeping them from entering the juvenile delinquency system.
- Provides opportunities for young people and their families to take part in age-appropriate services otherwise not known or available to them.
- Promotes public safety by reducing recidivism.
ACE also saves money. The cost per participant in the program is approximately $4,000. Probation, incarceration or residential placement costs considerably more.
Is ACE diversion effective?
Yes! Data from right here in the District shows the success of ACE.
- Close to 80% of the participants who complete the program are not arrested again.
- 88% of the participants who complete the program show improved scores on a behavioral and mental health assessment tool they take upon entering and leaving the program.
- 62% of the participants who complete the program have improved school attendance.
The Office of the Attorney General works to improve the lives of everyone in our community
Since taking office in 2015, Attorney General Racine has significantly increased the number of young people OAG’s prosecutors divert to ACE for minor, low-level offenses. OAG now diverts five times more juveniles to ACE than it did before March, 2015.
Diversion in the News
- Attorney General Racine writes in The Washington Post: D.C. does have a successful youth diversion program
- WAMU: How A D.C. Diversion Program Helps Get Young Lives Off The Ropes
- NBC4: Boxing Helps 11-Year-Old Boy After Arrest
- WAMU: Youth Program Points To Ways D.C. Can Be 'Far More Creative' Against Crime