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Program Profile: Adolescent Diversion Program (New York State)

Evidence Rating: Promising - One study Promising - One study

Date: This profile was posted on August 04, 2014

Program Summary

A diversion program for 16- and 17-year-old defendants in the New York state adult criminal justice system. The program is rated Promising. Similar rates of recidivism were found for ADP participants and comparison group members, suggesting that diverting older adolescents would not increase recidivism and risk to the public.

Program Description

Program Goals/Target Population
The Adolescent Diversion Program (New York State), or ADP, is a diversion program for 16- and 17-year-old defendants in New York state’s adult criminal justice system. The program seeks to divert older adolescents from the adult criminal justice system, providing them with age-appropriate alternatives and services. Overall, the goal of the ADP is to provide services to 16- and 17-year-old juveniles and reduce the use of conventional criminal penalties, while ensuring that recidivism does not increase and public safety is not jeopardized.

In the state of New York, 16- and 17-year-old defendants are automatically considered adults rather than juveniles, regardless of the crime they commit. As a result, each year between 40,000 and 50,000 16- and 17-year-olds are arrested and prosecuted as adults. In 2011 the state sought to rethink its approach and developed a process that would divert older youths from formal processing in the adult criminal justice system and provide them with age-appropriate services. Thus, New York implemented a pilot project (the ADP) in nine jurisdictions throughout the state, which included the five boroughs of New York City, as well as Erie, Nassau, Onondaga, and Winchester Counties (Rempel et al. 2013).

Program Theory
The ADP uses diversion as its framework. Diversion attempts to redirect youthful offenders from formal prosecution in the adult justice system because of the potential negative consequences of being involved with the system, such as the loss of voting rights and access to school, employment, and housing. Employers and landlords can use an individual’s criminal record as a means of not hiring an individual or refusing housing, both of which can impede an individual’s ability to reenter society (Cox et al. 2014). Responding to the potential lifetime consequences of processing juveniles in the adult criminal justice system (Lundman 1993), the ADP program sought to create a diversion program that would enable eligible 16- and 17-year-old defendants to avoid formal prosecution and receive services that aim to apply a rehabilitative, developmentally appropriate response to late adolescent behavior.

Program Components
ADP functions as a diversion program for 16- and 17-year-old juveniles involved in the adult criminal justice system, not the juvenile justice system. The program begins at the initial arraignment. If the case is not resolved during the arraignment, it is assigned to a specialized court through the ADP. The presiding judge—who had previously received training on adolescent brain development, trauma, substance abuse, family dysfunction, and other topics that may affect older adolescents—completes a clinical assessment of the juvenile and has the discretion to order age-appropriate services for the adolescent. Although the services vary by jurisdiction, court-ordered services can include individual counseling, family mediation, drug or mental health treatment, educational/vocational programming, or community service. In some instances, a youth may participate in the ADP as part of a predisposition agreement, meaning that the youth has not pled guilty or received a case disposition. In other cases, the defendant is required to enter into a guilty plea before participating in the ADP program. Whether the adolescent participates in the ADP program predisposition or postdisposition, completion of his or her assignment typically results in dismissal of charges or reduction of the charge to a noncriminal level. It is also possible that the judge offers an Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal (ACD) in exchange for service participation or offers an ACD following participation. An ACD is an agreement between the district attorney’s office and the defense to adjourn a defendant’s case for 6 months, with the hope that the case will eventually be dismissed as long as the defendant does not commit another crime. ACDs are not offered in felony cases (Murray 2012).

Participation in the ADP program is voluntary. Regarding offense type, all jurisdictions accept adolescents charged with misdemeanors, while two (Erie and Nassau) also accept felonies. All jurisdictions except Manhattan and Staten Island allow some juveniles to begin court-ordered services before disposition, as part of the pretrial diversion. Even if the youth is not diverted through the ADP, the common goal of avoiding a criminal record is the same.

Evaluation Outcomes

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Study 1
Rempel and colleagues (2013) found that the Adolescent Diversion Program (New York State), or ADP, showed no evidence that diverting 16- and 17-year-old defendants from the adult criminal justice system had any effect on participants’ recidivism rates. Similar rates of recidivism were found for ADP participants and comparison group members. The nonsignificant differences between the groups supported the hypothesis that diverting older adolescents would not increase recidivism and risk to the public.

Recidivism
Number of Rearrests (All Sites)
The average number of rearrests at the 6-month follow-up period across both ADP and comparison sites was the same (0.32).

Any Rearrest (All Sites)
At the 6-month follow-up period, a similar arrest rate was found for ADP participants and comparison group participants (22 percent and 21 percent, respectively). The difference was not significantly different between the groups.

Any Violent Arrests (All Sites)
The 6-month follow-up period also found similar arrest rates for violent felony charges for ADP participants and comparison group members (4 percent and 5 percent, respectively). Again, the difference was not significantly different between the groups.

Any Felony Arrest (All Sites)
ADP participants were, however, significantly less likely than comparison participants to be rearrested for a felony charge at the 6-month follow-up. Eight percent of ADP participants were arrested for a felony, compared with 10 percent of comparison group members—a significant difference.

Criminal Penalties
Case Disposition
At the 6-month follow-up period, 36 percent of both groups pled guilty. However, significant differences were found between ADP and comparison group participants in terms of adjournment in contemplation of dismissal (ACD) and case dismissals. Significantly fewer comparison group participants had their cases dismissed, compared to the ADP participants (13 percent of the comparison group versus 24 percent of the ADP group). Conversely, significantly more comparison group participants received an ACD compared with ADP participants (52 percent of the comparison group compared to 40 percent of the ADP group).

Use of Jail
There were no significant differences in the use of jail or length of stay in jail between the ADP and comparison participants. Jail was used for 4 percent of the ADP and comparison groups, while length of stay was 2.21 days for the comparison group and 1.89 days for the treatment group.

Sentence
If sentenced, the type of sentence varied for ADP and comparison group participants. Of those sentenced, ADP participants were less likely to be placed in jail (10 percent versus 13 percent of the comparison participants), significantly less likely to receive time served (1 percent versus 17 percent of the comparison participants), significantly less likely to be fined (0 percent versus 8 percent of comparison participants), and significantly less likely to receive a conditional discharge (0 percent versus 37 percent of comparison participants). ADP participants (89 percent) were also significantly more likely to receive community and/or social service as their sentence than were the comparison participants (23 percent). However, straight probation was received similarly by both groups (1 percent of ADP group versus 2 percent of the comparison group).
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Evaluation Methodology

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Study 1
To examine the impact of the Adolescent Diversion Program (New York State), or ADP, on recidivism and criminal penalties, Rempel and colleagues (2013) used a quasi-experimental design. All 16- and 17-year-old adolescents who participated in the program from Jan. 17 through June 30, 2012, were compared to similar cases of 16- and 17-year-old defendants who were arraigned between Jan. 17 and June 30, 2011 (1 year before program implementation). Data was obtained from the CRIMS–FULL, the New York statewide criminal court information system. This data included information such as demographics, charge, disposition, and sentence information. Data was also obtained for the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Manhattan through Bronx Community Solutions, the Red Hook Community Justice Center, and the Midtown Community Court, respectively. These data sources indicated the type of service that the ADP participants were assigned to and their compliance with their assignment.

ADP was implemented in nine jurisdictions throughout the state, including the five boroughs of New York City and Erie, Nassau, Onondaga, and Winchester Counties. However, three of the nine jurisdictions— Onondaga, Staten Island, and Westchester Counties—were excluded from the impact study. Onondaga and Westchester were excluded because these counties enrolled fewer than 40 ADP participants during the sampling period. Staten Island was excluded because it was added as an ADP site at a later date. Across the six sites that were eligible for inclusion in the study (the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, Nassau County, and Erie County) there were 1,192 ADP participants and 1,539 comparison participants. Roughly half of all participants in the treatment groups were 16 and the remaining half of the participants were 17; the same was found for all participants in the comparison groups. With regard to gender, 28 percent of all treatment group participants across all sites were female, while 29 percent of comparison participants were female. In terms of race, across all sites 65 percent of treatment participants were black, whereas 66 percent of comparison participants were black. Propensity score matching was used to ensure that there were no significant differences between the treatment and comparison groups.

To determine the recidivism impact of ADP, the following outcomes were measured for all the sites: number of all rearrests, any rearrest, any felony arrest, and any violent rearrest. Further, in terms of ADP’s impact on criminal penalties, the following outcomes were measured: case disposition, use of jail, and type of sentence. Through measuring these outcomes, the study authors sought to find a null effect of the ADP program in terms of recidivism. In other words, the study authors wanted to find that diverting youths away from the adult criminal justice system and providing them with services does not increase their recidivism rates.
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Cost

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There is no cost information available for this program.
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Evidence-Base (Studies Reviewed)

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These sources were used in the development of the program profile:

Study 1
Rempel, Michael, Suvi Hynynen Lambson, Carolyn R. Cadoret, and Allyson Walker Franklin. 2013. The Adolescent Diversion Program: A First-Year Evaluation of Alternatives to Conventional Case Processing for Defendants Ages 16 and 17 in New York. New York, N.Y.: Center for Court Innovation.
http://www.courtinnovation.org/sites/default/files/documents/ADP_Report_Final.pdf
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Additional References

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These sources were used in the development of the program profile:

Bynum, Jack E., and William E. Thompson. 1996. Juvenile Delinquency: A Sociological Approach (Third Edition). Needham Heights, Mass: Allyson and Bacon.

Cox, Jerry J., Gerald B. Lefcourt, Steven D. Benjamin, Norman L. Reimer, and Angelyn C. Frazer. 2014. Collateral Damage: America’s Failure to Forgive or Forget in the War on Crime: A Roadmap to Restore Rights and Status After Arrest or Conviction. Washington, D.C.: National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Lundman, Richard J. 1993. Prevention and Control of Juvenile Delinquency (Second Edition). New York, N.Y: Oxford University Press.

Murray, Don. 2012. NYC Misdemeanor Information: Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal (ACD)—The “Holy Grail” of Misdemeanor Negotiations (but Not Always). Kew Gardens, N.Y.: Shalley and Murray.

Reich, Warren A., Erin J. Farley, Michael Rempel, and Suvi Hynynen Lambson. 2014. The Criminal Justice Response to 16- and 17-Year-Old Defendants in New York. New York, N.Y.: Center for Court Innovation.

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Related Practices

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Following are CrimeSolutions.gov-rated practices that are related to this program:

Juvenile Diversion Programs
An intervention strategy that redirects youths away from formal processing in the juvenile justice system, while still holding them accountable for their actions. The practice is rated Promising for reducing recidivism rates of juveniles who participated in diversion programming compared with juveniles who were formally processed in the justice system.

Evidence Ratings for Outcomes:
Promising - More than one Meta-Analysis Crime & Delinquency - Multiple crime/offense types
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Program Snapshot

Age: 16 - 17

Gender: Both

Race/Ethnicity: Black, White

Geography: Suburban, Urban

Setting (Delivery): Courts

Program Type: Alternatives to Detention, Alternatives to Incarceration, Diversion

Targeted Population: Young Offenders

Current Program Status: Active

Listed by Other Directories: Model Programs Guide

Researcher:
Michael Rempel
Center for Court Innovation
520 Eighth Avenue
New York NY 10018
Website
Email