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Pretrial diversion refers to a method adopted by the United States Justice System as an alternative to traditional jailing. This method avoids prosecution of accused criminals, and instead puts them in a close supervision program offered by the United States probation service. In the bulk of cases, delinquents are diverted at the pre-charge phase. Offenders who efficaciously complete the program will not be prosecuted. If charged, the accusations against them would be dismissed. The main aims of pretrial diversion are; to deter future criminal activity among certain lawbreakers by diverting them from customary processing into community services, to save the cost of prosecuting and judicial process, to provide a vehicle for compensation to communities and fatalities of criminal activity.
In order to be eligible for pretrial diversion services, the accused must fulfill a number of conditions. First, the accused must not have two or more prior misdemeanor charges, must not be a public officer accused of a crime that was committed in violation of public trust and the offense should not be an affair affecting the national security. Cindy Hart falls comfortably within this category. This is the first felony she has ever been charged with, is not a public official and failing to take a child to school is unquestionably not a matter of national concern. Furthermore, the accused person must plead guilty to the charges in order to be considered for a diversion program.
Alternatives to adjudication for first-time arrestees was the most common diversion programming identified by the respondents. This was closely followed by that of drug abuse, with an estimate of 31.9 percent, then that of mental health services(21.7 percent) and programming for driving under the influence and other traffic charges (13 respondents each or 18.8 percent). As may be noted, most of the above mentioned offenses are petty crimes. The rationale justifying pretrial diversion is that the petty offenders should be kept away from jail in order to prevent them from graduating into hardcore criminals. Since Cindy is a first-time offender with a history of mental instability, she is highly likely to be approved for a pretrial diversion program.
The case of Cindy Hart is tear-jerking. She is charged by the state for failing to take her child to school regularly. She is also said to be in denial of her children’s special needs (the children have been diagnosed with autism and Asperger’s disease). In addition to that, child protective services, has been threatening to take away her children, citing neglect of motherly duties. From a psychological perspective, one could explain Cindy’s feelings of mistrust, neglect and abandonment on her treacherous upbringing. Deterioration of her mental health can be attributed to her rough background. Images of her father assaulting and battering her mother left scars in her heart and mind. Studies have shown that exposure to certain conditions as a child influences who we become in the future. It is obvious that Cindy loves and values her children and wants the best for them in future. This is revealed by the actuality that she has tried to hold a job as an aide at a day care center. She tries her best to put food on the table for her children.
Most of the diversion programs have conditions that must be met by the accused on probation. Some of the most common conditions include urinary test, mandatory community service, restitution, drug testing and counseling. The probation officer is supposed to take the accused through these activities and supervise. The probation officer reports to the court if the accused flaunts any rules. Some of the rules that are commonly flaunted by the accused include; failure to honor appointments with the leisure activity program (60 or 87 percent), new arrests (53, 76.8 percent), new convictions (51, 73.9 percent), and failure to pay restitution (49, 71 percent). Criminal justice and behavioral science journalism suggests that fast, certain and equitable responses to noncompliance with regulations can reduce future noncompliance and recidivism.
Some of the key duties of the pretrial diversion officer are; supervision of services and activities conducted by the accused, counseling, recording of non-Compliance, program responses and violations of diversion.
The pretrial officer is required to regularly supervise the activities conducted by the accused person. For instance, the officer should supervise community services performed by the accused. The pretrial officer should also interact with the accused, understand them, counsel and rehabilitate them. As regards counseling, Cindy should be extra vigilant and try not to miss any sessions. The counseling sessions might help Cindy to accept her past and understand that she cannot change it. The important thing is to be a good mother to her children and provide them with love, care among other needs. The pretrial officer is expected by the court and probation services to keep track of the accused’s rehabilitation and restitution journey. This is done by recording of events, habits and observable changes in the behavior of the accused. The most important part of the criminal rehabilitation system is to facilitate a smooth transition of an accused to the ordinary world. It is not a secret that any individual, charged with a misdemeanor is often stigmatized. The pretrial officers should try their best to facilitate this transition. This could be achieved by acting as referrals for the accused persons in the job market.
The introduction of the pretrial diversion system in the 1990’s was viewed with a lot of suspicion. Pretrial diversion has however, proved itself to be an exemplary system in reformation and change of criminal behavior. Studies have shown that the success rates for pretrial diversion are around eighty five percent.
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