The most basic measure of a diversion program's success is whether or not the program is meeting the goals established in the planning phase of program development. Even if you've identified and seemingly achieved those objectives, it's always useful to revisit them as part of the evaluation process. It also helps to collect relevant data to analyze as well as knowing how to interpret it.
Collecting diversion program data starts when a case is identified as eligible for diversion and is ongoing until the final disposition of the case. Some data points to consider include:
Percentage of overall caseload referred to diversion
Number of cases diverted by penal code
Reasons why offenders failed to enroll in or complete the diversion program
Percentage of offenders who complete/failed to complete the diversion program
Additional information, such as the number of staff hours saved and corresponding cost savings to your office, are important data points to capture for grant reporting and funding discussions.
In addition to data collection, extracting and compiling that data into a useful, standardized format is fundamental when analyzing a program. A complete case management system, such as the proprietary system we offer at CorrectiveSolutions, will record dates, calculate deadlines, keep track of documents, and contain call logs. This allows our clients to easily evaluate outcomes measured against program goals.
Analyzing the Data and Identifying Pitfalls
If you notice the numbers in the data do not match your expectations, or if the program is not helping you reach your goals, then it is time to put the numbers in context, and identify where the program is lagging. Here are some potential pitfalls:
Bad contact information: Does the initial referral have enough current information to be able to locate and reach the offender?
Insufficient efforts to reach the offender: Even willing diversion program participants require a lot of handholding throughout the process.
The conditions are too complicated or difficult to achieve: the participant may decline diversion if it is too difficult to complete.
Hidden costs: some program requirements may have additional costs that are not included in the program fee, such as third-party drug testing or counseling.
Low case referrals: prosecutor turnover or lack of follow-up training can cause a diversion program to be underutilized.
Additional Sources of Data
Some components of a diversion program should be evaluated using more than just statistical data. For example, how do you measure how well the program holds offenders accountable for their actions? One aspect may be a journal or workbook as part of the behavioral change offender education condition.
We Can Help Your Office Create Measured Success!
If you would like to discuss the successes and challenges that come with achieving your diversion program's goals, or are looking to partner with a program provider that can ensure success without being a drain on your office's resources, visit our contact us page or contact Thomas Jonsson directly using the information below.