The state of Tennessee is currently sponsoring a new series of diversion programs. These programs are aimed at creating a series of what experts refer to as “exit ramps” from the criminal justice system. The idea is to use these new programs as alternatives to the traditional criminal justice system route.
Pre-police encounter diversion programs
Diversion programs are a new part of the criminal defense process. Pre-police encounter diversion programs are set up to respond to certain types of 911 calls. These are nonviolent calls that do not require intervention by the police. Instead, the program sends civilian respondents to address certain community issues.
This new Community Assistance and Life Liaison (CALL) program has responded to 4,300 calls so far. These deal with certain issues related to mental health, homelessness, substance abuse, and disputes between neighbors. This saves the police from having to answer calls that they are not well equipped to handle.
Pre-charge diversion programs
Pre-charge diversion programs are largely aimed at correcting the behavior of young people and nonviolent offenders. These are people who would otherwise be charged with a misdemeanor or low-level felony.
This type of program is designed to give prosecutors the option of providing services to people rather than sending them to jail. In lieu of being charged, for example, a person may be directed to attend a program that meets the needs of people who were harmed by their actions.
Pre-arrest diversion programs
Along with alternative sentencing options, pre-arrest diversion programs are making considerable headway. This type of diversion program is designed to link up people with certain needed support groups and services. The idea here is to eliminate some of the underlying causes of criminal activity before an actual crime is committed.
These are the kinds of programs that will best fit the needs of people who require access to treatment for substance use or mental health issues. Many of these programs are designed to help people who are in the midst of severe crises involving their mental stability. They can be a viable alternative to prison.