WORKING PAPER: The Impact of Felony Diversion in San Francisco
Jurisdictions across the country offer programs to divert people out of standard criminal justice processes and into programs designed to deter future crime by addressing the underlying causes of the criminal activity. However, San Francisco is unique for providing diversion programs to individuals with more complex needs, including those with longer criminal histories and those charged with felonies. Approximately 16,000 people were referred to seven diversion programs offered through San Francisco’s Collaborative Courts and Pretrial Diversion between 2008 and 2018.
The programs vary in terms of the intended population served, capacity, participation requirements, and duration. The first report in this series examines referral, enrollment, and completion rates for these seven programs and describes the demographics of participants as well as their pre-program and post-program interactions with the criminal justice system. The second report, a working paper, evaluates the causal impact of felony case referrals to diversion programs on case outcomes and subsequent criminal justice contact. Future research by the California Policy Lab will examine the causal relationship between a referral to a diversion program on health and housing outcomes.