Widening the Net: An Anomaly in the Evaluation of Diversion Programs
Thomas G. Blomberg
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I wish to thank Sheldon L. Messinger, Malcolm W. Klein, Jeanine Blomberg, and Theodore Chiricos for their helpful criticisms and suggested modifications on an early draft of this chapter.
Following the recommendations of the 1967 President's Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice, there was a nationwide explosion of diversion programs. Diversion programs were aimed at diverting selected adult and juvenile offenders previously subject to justice system insertion into various forms of community treatment. A major conceptual rationale underlying the diversion concept was that reducing, offender insertion into the justice system would avoid the danger assumed to be associated with criminal stigmatization and criminal associations, thereby reducing the likelihood of subsequent crime by the offender.1 Stimulated by Law Enforcement Assistance Administration funding, diversion emerged as a national crime control strategy.
While the diversion concept was hailed by many proponents as a major justice policy innovation, it can he argued that the policy has early twentieth-century roots. Clearly, diversion notions were central to stated juvenile court policy and Were reflected in various rationales for parole and probation at the turn of the twentieth century. Nonetheless, while the diversion orientation is not novel, the concept has flourished with largely unquestioned acceptance and continuous program proliferation.
In recent years critical concern has been focused upon diversion program accountability and has stimulated evaluation of the program's implementation efforts and results. Emerging from these evaluation efforts have been several important and alarming trends. First, and central to diversion's basic conceptual rationale, has been the documented failure of diversion programs to implement appropriate client targeting upon system-insertable clients. This failure has resulted in what is referred to as "net-widening" -namely, extending the client reach of the justice system by increasing the overall proportion to population (system-insertable and "others") subject to some form of system control. Second, diversion's net-widening has been shown to have the potential to produce a number of consequences detrimental to clients. Third, and a more subtle issue underlying the net-widening findings, is the question of how the general population may come to accept state intrusions as a matter of common course.
While there are few correctional reform examples that have been successfully implemented and evaluated, it should be possible, as Klein (1979) has contended, to implement programs which correspond to their conceptual rationales and then to evaluate the usefulness of these programs and corresponding rationales. To date, it appears that this has not occurred with diversion program implementation efforts, consequently, the efficacy of diversion and its corresponding rationales remains open to speculation. To move beyond speculation and ensure that evaluations of diversion programs are, in fact, evaluations of diversion instead of program cooptations and/or insufficient program implementations, it is necessary to alert diversion program evaluators to the net-widening potential and strategies for identifying and assessing net-widening's client effects. This chapter attempts to address this need. The primary purposes are: (1 ) to demonstrate through a review of diversion literature the net-widening pattern and resulting detrimental effects to clients associated with inappropriately implemented diversion programs, (2) to identify and discuss evaluation strategies for determining if net-widening is occurring and how it affects clients, and (3) to consider why net-widening occurs and if it can be avoided.
The chapter is divided into five sections. Section I provides an overview of diversion programs. Section II reviews diversion literature addressing net-widening and discusses pertinent evaluation strategies. Section III reviews diversion literature concerning the client effects resulting from diversion, particularly in relation to net-widening, and discusses pertinent evaluation strategies. Section IV considers net-widening as a trend associated not only with diversion but with a series of reforms related to corrections and reviews an organizational explanation of this trend. Section V is comprised of a summary and exploration of how the organizational stimulus facilitating net-widening may be checked.
I. OVERVIEW OF THE DIVERSION PROGRAM MOVEMENT
In considering diversion, it is important to keep in mind the broad range of adult and juvenile diversion programs.2 Overall, both adult and juvenile diversion programs can be said to share in the attempt to replace traditional or official justice-processing with alternative processing into various community-based treatment programs. Adult diversion programs have been focused largely upon the delivery of pretrial services, but they often include delivery of services to convicted offenders as well. The Community-Based Corrections Program of Polk County, Des Moines, Iowa, for example, was judged by NILECJ to be ail exemplary adult diversion project and appropriate for replication by other jurisdictions. The program provides pretrial release on own recognizance, pretrial supervised release, probation, and residence at Fort Des Moines (a correctional facility offering work and educational release) for both adult defendants and convicted offenders.3 Although juvenile diversion programs have a broad variety of service-delivery orientations, family-centered treatment has become a dominant juvenile diversion treatment modality. For example, the 601 Juvenile Diversion Project in Sacramento, California, was designated an exemplary Juvenile diversion project by NILECJ. This program provides short-term family crisis counseling as an alternative to juvenile court processing for status offenders (truants, runaways, and generally unmanageable youngsters).4
Participation requirements in adult and juvenile diversion programs vary from strictly voluntary to legally required. Most projects operate between the legal and the voluntary orientations (paralegal), generally gaining client participation through coercion. Typically, these paralegal diversion programs are administratively controlled by the official justice system, staffed by justice personnel (in-kind and the like), and physically based in official justice premises.5 They have access to official justice records, grant justice personnel access to their records, and maintain a formal or informal method of reporting on client progress in cooperation with the justice system. As this form of organization suggests, paralegal diversion programs have served a supplementary rather than alternative function to the justice system (Rutherford and McDermott, 1976). Such a supplementary role suggests a net-widening potential in terms of the ultimate impact of diversion programs upon the overall administration of justice to adults and juveniles.In the late 1960s and early 1970s the diversion literature tended to be descriptive, theoretical, and devoid of critical speculation and challenge. This includes the writings of Rosenheirn (1969), Lemert (1971), and Polk (1971), who argued for the development of youth diversion alternatives on the basis of their assumed potential to produce more effective delinquency prevention and treatment. In the mid 1970s the diversion concept was subjected to critical speculation in articles by Mahoney (1974), Morris (1974), and Neielski (1976), With regard to adult diversion, Morris (1974: 10) contended that the operation of diversion would ultimately increase the numbers under control by generating at the police level greater discretion to decide whether to arrest or to issue a notice to appear in court. The result would be fewer arrests but more individuals reaching the courts, resulting, in turn, in more pervasive but less severe control over a substantially larger number of citizens. In terms of juvenile programs, Nejelski (1976: 410) warned that "there is a danger that diversion will become a means of expanding coercive intervention in the lives of children and families without proper concern for their rights." Such critical speculation and growing interest in diversion subsequently stimulated a series of evaluation efforts concerned with the implementation and results of diversion.
II. IS DIVERSION PRODUCING NET-WIDENING?
A consistent finding that has emerged from the evaluation of diversion programs has been validation of the net-widening speculation. It has been demonstrated that both adult and juvenile diversion practices are being applied largely to clients who were previously not subject to justice system insertion. Representative of this literature are the reports of Vorenberg and Vorenberg (1973)), Klein (1974, 1975, 1979); Kutchins and Kutchins (1975), Mattingly and Katkin (1975), the California Youth Authority (1976), Blomberg (1977a), Sarri (1979), and those of adult diversion by Petersen (1973), Zimring (1973), Mullen (1975), and Seitz et al. (1978).The California Youth Authority study, for example, evaluated fifteen local juvenile diversion projects and specifically assessed the extent to which the programs did divert system-insertable clients from the juvenile system. The findings indicated that, on an average, less than 50 percent of the diversion clients were, in fact, diversion clients-namely, those who would have received imminent justice system insertion if not for the availability of diversion programs. The majority of diversion program clients were termed "prevention clients"-those youth defined as not subject to imminent justice insertion but provided diversion services to prevent their future delinquency.6 Similarly, Mullen (1975: 24) concluded from a comparative assessment of adult pretrial diversion programs that "in the absence of diversion alternatives, few project participants would have faced jail sentence." In a case study of a juvenile diversion program, Blomberg (1977a) documented a 32 percent increase in the total number of youth receiving some form of justice or diversion service during the program's first year of operation. The significant numerical increase was attributed to the "whole" family treatment focus, in which diverted youth, their siblings, and parents were required to participate.
The net-widening finding demonstrates the lack of development of targeted lent populations for diversion programs-namely, a specification of those clients who would have been inserted into the justice system previous to the availability of diversion programs. Klein (1979) argues in this regard that in the available diversion literature almost no serious attempts have been made to develop system-insertable client populations for diversion programs. In addition, the conceptual, definitional, and operational ambiguities of diversion programs have facilitated the emergence of a delinquency prevention function instead of justice system diversion function for many diversion programs. This emergence has been considerably reinforced by the commonly held assumption among various related court and probation personnel that many of the clients who were released prior to diversion programming were, nonetheless, in need of treatment that was not available before diversion.
The referral of beginning or minor offenders to treatment agencies is commonly assumed to be a professional response to these clients. Early identification and subsequent referral is felt essential for crime and delinquency prevention. Such widely held notions have substantially impeded the implementation of diversion as originally envisioned, and have contributed to the transformation of diversion programs into prevention programs, receiving the bulk of their clients from parents, schools, and welfare agencies instead of the justice system (Statsky, 1974; Dennison et al., 1975; Humphreys and Carrier, 1976: McAleenan et al., 1977; and the National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals, 1978). Further, several researchers argue that in some areas diversion clients tend to be middle-class and without prior records or serious instant offenses which would have resulted in justice system insertion. This results in diversion referral not being available to those lower-class youth with a prior record and serious instant offense who perhaps are most likely to benefit from diversion services (Hackler, 1976, Pitchess, 1976, Carter, 1978: and Klein,1979).
It is of major importance for diversion program evaluators to be alert to diversion's net-widening potential and to be familiar with useful evaluation strategies for identifying and measuring net-widening. Any diversion program evaluation which fails to address the net-widening issue would have to be considered incomplete or superficial, given diversion's reported net-widening results. Moreover, without specific consideration of net-widening, evaluators cannot be sure whether or not they are evaluating a diversion program or various transformations of the concept.
Evaluating Diversion Programs for Net-Widening
Evaluations of diversion programs addressing net-widening have focused largely upon assessments of client characteristics and/or system processing rates. In terms of client characteristics, evaluation efforts have been aimed at determining if diversion programs are selecting clients with characteristics of clients normally inserted into the justice system. With regard to system processing rates, evaluations have been focused upon a determination of diversion's impact upon the characteristic numerical flow of clients through the justice system. Both approaches have proven useful in addressing diversion's net-widening capability.
In evaluating the extent to which juvenile diversion program clients are diversion clients normally inserted into the justice system, evaluators have considered such client characteristics as age, sex, prior offense history, and instant offense seriousness. Klein (1979) specifies several client characteristics indicative of justice system insertion for juvenile offenders-namely, that justice system-insertable youth should be older (15 to 17), predominately male (with the male-female ratio 5 to 1 or greater), generally with a prior record and instant offenses of medium seriousness, and infrequently status offenders. Several of these juvenile diversion client characteristics are relevant to adult diversion clients as well. Specifically, adult diversion clients would probably be male with a prior record and instant offenses of medium seriousness. However, jurisdictions are subject to variations concerning both adult and juvenile client characteristics which indicate imminent justice system insertion. As a result, diversion program evaluators should attempt to review with appropriate justice system personnel those system -insertable client characteristics to be used in their evaluations (court intake officers and related probation staff, district attorney staff, defense attorney staff, and judges) to ensure jurisdiction-specific relevance. 7
In the assessment of diversion's impact upon the characteristic numerical flow of clients through the justice system, considerable emphasis has been given to the use of system processing rates.8 Essentially, this approach involves generating system processing rates to compute numerical indicators for measuring a diversion program's impact upon the insertion of clients into the justice system. Specifically, the rates can be used to compute expected or estimated numbers of youths to be inserted into the justice system, without consideration of the anticipated diversion program's impact. Subsequent comparison of the expected or estimated numbers to be inserted with the actual numbers, provides numerical indication of diversion's impact upon characteristic justice system client insertion. In addition, consideration of the number of diversion program clients enables evaluators to assess a diversion program's overall impact in terms of justice system diversion or net-widening.
The processing rates used to compute the expected or estimated numbers of clients to be subject to justice system insertion should be based upon the proportion of the jurisdiction's year-to-year youth or adult population figures.9 However, in those instances where population data are not available or reliable, rates can be derived from proportion of arrests inserted into the justice system. The rates used to generate the expected or estimated numbers should be based data covering several years. It is important to note that use of such procedures involves reliance on official aggregate data. While these data are often all that are available, they are, nonetheless, subject to state and local jurisdiction idiosyncrasies and fluctuations. Thus, the usefulness of this approach is dependent upon consistent data collection and reporting over time. Ideally, evaluators should use both client characteristics and numerical justice system approaches their evaluation of diversion's net-widening potential.
III. IS DIVERSION'S WIDENING OF THE NET HARMFUL TO CLIENTS?
Studies which have addressed the client effects of diversion have generally not differentiated between the effects on intended diversion clients and unintended clients drawn into diversion as a result of net-widening. For the most part, research related to this question has been focused upon diversion programs abilities to change their clients, as measured by officially recorded recidivism. For example, in a study drawn from a five-year cohort of youth processed through diversion programs and the juvenile courts in Australia, Sarri (1979) reports that diverted and court-processed youth had similar rates of court reappearance. In the national evaluation of the five site replications of the Des Moines Exemplary Adult Diversion Project. Seitz et al. (1978) report similar findings. The five-site comparative evaluation indicated that, operation of the various pretrial diversion components had little impact in reducing recidivism among diverted, compared to nondiverted, offenders.
Paternoster et al. (1979) explored the extent to which juveniles discriminate between formal court processing resulting in incarceration and informal diversion processing with reference to perceptions of accrued liabilities or stigma. The Youth's perception of stigma was measured in terms of: (I ) parental relation. ships, (2) school performance, (3) relationships with peers, (4) desired employment, and (5) future involvement with tile law. The findings indicated that only in tile area of peer relationships was there a significant difference between the perceptions of diverted and incarcerated youths. These results remained constant when control was made for tile effects of prior social liabilities. such as race and social class. Tile authors concluded that to tile extent perceptions of stigma have implications for subsequent behavior, it makes little difference whether youths receive diversion or formally imposed incarceration. Tile type of treatment received appears not to be significant in shaping self-perceptions.
Klein (1979), in a general review of studies reporting on client changes resulting from juvenile diversion programs, reports that three studies cite positive findings (less delinquency), two studies cite findings of worsening effects (more delinquency), and eight studies cite equivocal findings.10 Klein points out that, with one exception, these studies did not employ random assignment of youth to diversion and nondiversion alternatives. The study that did utilize random assignment, Lincoln et al. (1977), found substantially lower rates of recidivism for diverted youth as compared to youth who received juvenile court petitions. However, those youth released outright, without any form of services, had even lower recidivism rates. This finding concerning youth released outright has important implications regarding the potentially detrimental client effects of diversion, particularly for those clients who would have been released if not for diversion's client net-widening. However, since the diversion studies have not generally differentiated between system-insertable diversion clients and clients normally released before diversion, it remains unclear whether diversion is or is not reducing subsequent behavior difficulties or influencing perceptions for intended diversion clients.
In assessing the effects on clients subject to diversion because of net-widening, there are a limited number of studies which have suggested diversion's potential to accelerate client jeopardy, system penetration, and subsequent behavior difficulties. In the earlier-cited comparative study of adult diversion by Mullen (1975: 26), for example, it was documented that clients referred to diversion pro-rams who were unable to meet the program's requirements were likely to be subjected to informal double jeopardy -returned for prosecution on their original charge, prosecuted vigorously, convicted, and placed on probation supervision. Mullen further suggests that most of the clients handled in this manner would not have been subject to formal justice -processing if not for the Client net-widening accompanying diversion program operations. Similar findings in a juvenile diversion program have been provided in relation to youth whose families were not amenable to diversion's whole-family intervention methods. Specifically, Blomberg (1977a: 277-280) indicates that when families were unable or unwilling to cooperate with diversion's family treatment process, the children were frequently referred to the juvenile court for suitable out-of-home placement. This resulted in accelerated court penetration of the siblings of diversion's targeted clients, who would not have come to the attention of the justice system if not for diversion's family focus.
The potential, related to diversion's net-widening, to create or intensify subsequent behavior difficulties related to justice system contact and subsequent 'increased visibility, is supported by Klein (1975) in his study of the relationship between rearrest and alternative dispositions for young offenders. Among the reported results related to various referrals, Klein indicates that providing diversion services to those youth who might otherwise have been released outright may well have increased their subsequent rearrest rates, because of their increased visibility to their "treaters" and the police, rather than increased rate of misconduct.11
On the basis of these results, therefore, it appears that in some client instances, because of the potentially detrimental effect accompanying diversion's "Widening of the client net, doing nothing (outright release without referral or nonintervention) is preferable than doing something in the name of diversion. Nonintervention, however, is neither likely nor preferable for those clients who may well benefit and/or need some form of diversion service. Yet, because of net-widening, it is unclear whether or not diversion can or does produce, beneficial client results for justice system-insertable clients. Consequently it is essential that diversion program evaluators determine the various client effect, resulting from diversion program efforts, and differentiate the effects on system-insertable clients from those effects on net-widening clients.
Evaluating Client Effects Associated ,with Diversion's Net-Widening
It is important for evaluators to realize that demonstration of net-widenings, occurrence, as a result of poor diversion program implementation, will not I necessarily surprise or alter system agents' notions of their legitimate clientele. However, if evaluators can demonstrate that net-widening does produce detrimental client consequences, then clear evidence for mandating appropriate diversion client target-hardening would be provided. In the absence of such evaluation evidence, it is likely that system agents' perceptions of appropriate clients will continue to expand.
In attempting to determine the client effects associated with diversions net-widening, evaluators must first differentiate diversion clients (system-insertable) from net-widening clients (nonsystem-insertable). This differentiation can be accomplished by following the earlier-reviewed client characteristic assessments necessary to identify net-widening. Once differentiation is made between diversion and net-widening clients, a number of evaluation approaches should be considered. Ultimately, in determining a particular evaluation approach, evaluators must consider the suitability of the approach to the evaluation's questions as well as the workability of The approach within a given project setting. Often evaluators must decide not to pursue a "preferred" evaluation orientation because of feasibility issues related to cost, legality, political volatility, and so on. Consequently, it is essential for evaluators to be informed of various evaluation approaches if their efforts to fit the approach to the evaluation questions and project setting are to he successful in this area of net-widening evaluation.
In the review of previous evaluations of diversion's client effects, it was pointed out that, with few exceptions, the evaluations did not employ random assignment of matched clients into diversion programs and the justice system. Consequently, meaningful assessments of the comparative client effects resulting from these two forms of processing could not be made. To overcome this inadequacy, arid working with a population subject to diversion processing only because of net-widening, evaluators could randomly assign the clients either to diversion programs or to outright release. Subsequent tracking and follow-up of these two groups of clients in terms of official recidivism indicators (rearrest, court referral or intake, petition-filing or petition reappearance, and subsequent sentence or disposition) and related self-report indicators (frequency of undetected misconduct, perception and attitudinal changes) would enable evaluators to assess comparatively the beneficial or the detrimental effects resulting from net-widening. Specifically, if diversion processing compared to outright release was shown to result in increased rearrests, double jeopardy in terms of return to court and vigorous prosecution for adults, or accelerated justice system penetration for juveniles, convincing documentation would be provided concerning the detrimental client effects resulting from net-widening.
It is likely that evaluators will find, however, that control and experimental approaches are not often workable in diversion project settings. In these instances evaluators can focus their evaluation effort upon documenting specific client effect indicators associated with diversion's net-widening. For example, evaluators can track the progress of net-widening, clients through diversion programs to describe their experiences and determine any subsequent consequences particularly relevant to potential double jeopardy and accelerated justice system insertion. Official indicators of these potential consequences could be found in diversion program intake records, type of program service recommendations, case-worker recommendations, other justice agency referrals, and subsequent dispositions or sentences. In addition, self-report information could be gathered regarding instances of undetected misconduct, and of clients' perceptions and attitudes reflecting the effects of their diversion program experiences. A major concern here is to collect various items of information which together enable the evaluator to describe accurately the experiences and consequences of these experiences for net-widening clients.12
Since many juvenile diversion programs are focusing increasingly upon whole families, evaluators should develop evaluation capacities in this area. Again, various self-report measures can be used to explore family members' perceptions of their family treatment experiences. In addition, the official indicators previously identified can be used in combination with the self-report information to describe program experiences and consequences occurring as a result of those experiences. However, it is essential here for evaluators to differentiate not only between initial diversion referrals, to determine if the referrals are of system-insertable diversion clients or net-widening clients, but also, in their client follow-ups and assessments between the siblings of these initial referrals. Evaluators should be alert to the capacity of family intervention to produce net-widening this double sense: first, with initial referrals, and second, with siblings. Further, evaluators need to determine if, in fact, initial referrals and their siblings are being accelerated into the justice system when their families are found not amenable to diversion's family intervention methods.
Ultimately, in the evaluation of both diversion's net-widening and associated client effects, evaluators must be imaginative. There is no specific checklist to be 1wed in conducting responsible diversion program evaluations. In all likelihood, such an evaluation checklist would not be equally relevant in all jurisdictions, given the variation in diversion program orientations, personnel, available data, political and jurisdiction conditions, and so on. However, as the preceding review indicates, there are a number of salient evaluation issues and means of addressing these issues in order to carry out responsible program evaluations that produce compelling results. Without such compelling results, not only will net-widening probably continue or accelerate, but diversion will remain an untested correctional concept.
IV. CORRECTIONAL REFORM AND WIDENING OF THE SOCIAL CONTROL NET: AN ORGANIZATIONAL INTERPRETATION
The net-widening phenomenon extends considerably beyond diversion to include a series of correctional reform efforts. During the 1950s and 1960s, for example, California experienced substantial population increases in its state prisons and youth reformatories. In subsequent attempts to reduce local commitments to state facilities, subsidies for the development of local institution and intensive probation supervision alternatives to state institutions were provided. 13 Studies of the impact of California's effort to decrease state institutional confinement have determined that while reductions in state commitments were achieved, overall (combined state and county) increases in the total number of persons controlled resulted. 14
Similarly, in their national assessment of the deinstitutionalization of juvenile offenders into community-based alternatives, Vinter et al. ( 1975: 77) report that the ten most deinstitutionalized states had a higher combined rate of assignment (state institutions and community-based programs) than the fifty-state average. Current research is further demonstrating net-widening in association with the present national effort to deinstitutionalize status offenders.15
Moreover, the net-widening trend can be associated with a number of turn-of-the-century correctional reforms, including parole, probation, and the juvenile court. Specifically, since the early nineteenth-century development of prison-based corrections in the United States, there have been a series of reforms generally considered as alternatives to imprisonment. However, as Messinger (1977) argues, these reforms can perhaps be better understood as alternatives to doing nothing with individuals, or almost nothing-like reprimanding a suspect or discharging a convicted person. Thus, it is not surprising that the history of U.S. correctional reform has consistently resulted in net-widening whereby an increasing proportion of the population has become subject to some form of institution- or community-based control.
While there appears to he little doubt concerning the net-widening, results that have been produced from various correctional reform efforts, there has been considerable debate as to whether or not net-widening has been intentional or unintentional. A number of writers have argued that the history of social control reform can best be understood as an intentional and persistent effort by a privileged and powerful few to increase the network of social control and the population subject to control, in order to strengthen or ensure the status quo (Gusfield, 1963; Erikson, 1966; and Platt, 1969). This critical historical orientation is often contrasted with the liberal or "march of progress" interpretation, in which credence is given to the stated reform rhetoric and humanitarian motives of the reformers (Reith, 1952; Handler, 1965, Fox, 1970; and McKelvey, 1977). Undoubtedly, both approaches have explanatory merit, as evidenced in recent historical studies combining both approaches (Rothman, 1971; Schlossman, 1977; and Scull, 1977). However, if the consistent occurrence of correctional net-widening is to be interpreted, there are a number of questions that must be addressed beyond reformer motives.
Beginning primarily in the 1960s, there emerged critical research interest in the organizational characteristics of justice agencies. This represented a significant departure from the major focus of previous research. Prior studies had been primarily concerned with the causes of crime, emphasizing the importance of the individual, the group, the environment, or some combination of these factors in creating crime. It was assumed that justice agencies were guided by their formal goals, defined rules, and a sense of disinterested professionalism. This assumption was increasingly questioned with the emergence of the labeling perspective, which stimulated critical interest and study of justice Packer (1968). In a review of the organizational perspective emerging from these studies, Feeley (1970: 413) summarizes:
They all tend to view the organization of the administration of criminal justice as a system of upon cooperation, exchange, and adaptation, and emphasize these considerations over adherence to formal rules and defined "roles" in searching for and developing explanations of behavior and discussing organizational effectiveness. Rather than being the primary focus of attention, and "disinterested Professionalism" are viewed as only one set of the many factors shaping controlling individuals' decisions, and perhaps not the most important ones.
This organizational orientation has been referred to as the "functional-systems approach" because of its view that justice agency goals, structure, and Processes are functions of technological and environmental forces rather than static elements existing in a vacuum, to be manipulated by management (Mohr, 1976). With respect to the courts, the connection between environment, technology, structure, and process is clear. Courts can vary considerably across jurisdictions with regard to available dispositions or sentencing alternatives. Further, disposition and sentencing alternatives change over time, influenced as they are by broader economic and cultural developments. Such variations have direct implications for court structure and process in terms of how offenders are viewed and ultimately processed. Thus, patterns of court decision-making are not timeless but are affected by the specific organizational arrangements and context in which they take place and to which they have relevance. The courts organizational context provides a framework of constraining court service alternatives which influence offender insertion into the court, and subsequently structure patterns of court decision-making relative to those offenders.
It has been argued in functional -systems studies of diversion innovations that, because justice agencies are characterized by operational and technological instability, externally funded program innovations such as diversion will be perceived as compatible with the functional necessities, goals, and practices of these agencies.16 Further, perceptions of continued instability predispose the agencies to implement innovations as supplements to previous practice (formal or informal), rather than as significant alternatives to previous practice, this partially explains the net-widening finding. As the court organizations disposition or sentence alternatives expand as a result of diversion, there is initiated a modification of client insertion and processing patterns whereby clients previously viewed as unsuitable for justice system insertion and processing are judged, within a less constrained context of alternatives, as suitable for diversion.
The net-widening brought on by diversion's "discovery" of new clients is further influenced by the fact that justice agency funding is based upon numbers of client contacts or workload units. Static or declining client loads result in corresponding static or declining budgets. Throughout this century the trend has been consistent1v upward in numbers of justice clients and corresponding justice budgets. However, with the present concern over ineffective public policies and spiraling government spending, a new demand for accountability is being voiced loudly throughout the country. The historically consistent pattern of public agency growth arid ever-increasing fiscal support appears to be unsuited to the times. As a result, change in the characteristic growth of the justice system could be anticipated. The question is, how will justice policy emerge in the wake of accelerated conditions of environmental scarcity and social-political demands for performance accountability?
V. SUMMARY AND DISCUSSION
The major purposes of this chapter have been to demonstrate diversions net-widening potential and resulting detrimental client effects, and to identify strategies for evaluating net-widening, in diversion programs. In considering the literature addressing diversion's overall impact. net-widening was consistently documented. In effect, diversion programs produced net-widening by selecting the major proportion of their clientele from a population previously not subjected to justice system insertion. With regard to net-widening's effect on clients, a number of detrimental consequences were identified, including double prosecution jeopardy, increased rearrest rates, family intrusions, and accelerated justice system insertion. Relevant evaluation strategies concerning diversion's net-widening and client effects were identified and reviewed to alert evaluators to various means of discovering and assessing these diversion program capabilities.
The documentation of diversion's net -widening and related detrimental client effects could be used as arguments for terminating diversion practice. As Dunford (1977) speculates, diversion may be rejected in practice, not because it did not fulfill its promise, but because it was not given the opportunity to do so. Certainly the net-widening results associated with diversion programs do not demonstrate failure of the diversion concept, but demonstrate instead failure in the implementation of diversion programs. As a result, diversion cannot as of yet be considered a failure or a success.
A significant implication that can be drawn from the overall net-widening that is occurring (in relation to diversion and other deinstitutionalization and community-based treatment efforts) is the need to check the continuing sprawl Of the correctional system. A catchphrase now often heard concerning various Public agencies is the need for quality instead of quantity. Education, welfare, government, justice, and correctional agencies are becoming increasingly subject to scrutiny with regard to cost-effective accountability. Certainly, the increasing emphasis upon justice and correctional evaluation has not emerged out of a social vacuum but fundamentally reflects a growing awareness of basic conditions of scarcity in which ineffectual practice must be reduced. The provision of support for various programs without documented accountability is clearly declining.17
In Florida, effort, stimulated by the legislature, is being made to develop an a1ternative funding formula for correctional agencies. Traditionally, correctional funding in Florida, as in most states, has been based upon a workload unit formula in which numbers of clients served provided the essential basis for funding allocations, thus encouraging net-widening client selection practices. Florida's alternate funding proposal would, for example, convert the workload unit system to school-age enrollment funding. Specifically, the current number of professional staff within juvenile probation will be divided into the total 411mber of school children aged 10 to 17, producing a ratio of professionals to children "at risk" of delinquency or related behavioral difficulties. Since the school enrollment in this age bracket has not been subject to growth in Florida, the juvenile probation budget would reflect a no-growth allocation. Further, if this age bracket declines, so would the budget allocation to juvenile probation, reflecting a downward trend in the "population at risk" ratio.18
In the absence of compelling results concerning various correctional strategies to guide policy makers, and in view of the negative trends associated with previous correctional system reforms and proliferation, there is a need for serious consideration of such funding alternatives. Perhaps determinant funding formulas for correctional agencies could thwart traditional organizational impediments to appropriate implementation of innovative program strategies and stir a corresponding commitment to the evaluation of these strategies. Certainly, the integral role of evaluators in shaping subsequent correctional policy decision-making is becoming increasingly apparent.
1. Diversion's major conceptual rationale reflects labeling and differential association theories. For summary statements and critiques of labeling theory, see Kitsuse (1963), Gibbs (1966), Mahoney (1974), and Wellford (1975). For a similar review of differential association theory, see Cressey (1960), Burgess and Akers (1966), and Deneur and Quinney (1966). For identification and discussion of additional rationales underlying diversion, see Public Systems Inc. (1974).(back)
2. For general elaboration upon the organization and treatment variations reflected in diversion programs, see Biel (1974), Rovner-Pieczenik (1974), O'Brien and Marcus (1976), and Rutherford and McDermott (1976). For a specific review of juvenile diversion programs, see Kobetz and Bosarge (1973), Sarri and Isenstadt (1973), Klapmuts (1974), and Crime and Delinquency (1976).(back)
3. For further description of the Des Moines Community-Based Corrections Program, see National Institute of Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice (1975, 1976a, 1976b).(back)
4. Further description of the Sacramento Family Counseling Diversion Project is provided in Baron and Feeney (1976).(back)
5. For example, a recent survey by Bellassai (1978)documented that of 148 pretrial diversion programs compiled by the ABA Pre-trial Intervention Service Center in 1976, only 17 percent were administered by independent agencies. In contrast, I I percent were court-affiliated, 16 percent prosecutor-affiliated, and 36 percent were under the control of county probation departments.(back)
6. See California Youth Authority (1975a, 1975b, 1976).(back)
7. For elaboration on client characteristics assessments in diversion program evaluations, see Behavioral Research Institute (1977).(back)
8. Several researchers have relied upon versions of system processing rates for measuring diversion's justice system impact, and have termed the approach differently. See Elliott (1974), Elliott et al. (1976), Klein (1975), and Blomberg (1977a, 1978a).(back)
9. For further specification of procedures, computations, and applications of system processing rates in assessing net-widening, see Blomberg (1978a: 4349, 66-70, 87-90).(back)
10. The studies reviewed by Klein which cited positive effect findings were Baron et al. (1973), Klein (1974), and Ku and Blew (1977). The studies which cited negative effect findings were Lincoln (1976) and Elliott (1978). The studies which cited equivocal findings were Carter and Gilbert (1973), Binder et al. (1976), Forward et al. (1974), Klein (1974), Stratton (1975), Berger et al. 11977), Lincoln et al. (1977), and Elliott (1978).(back)
11. For additional discussion of the potential of increased client visibility, resulting from diversion program contact, to increase the likelihood of rearrest, see Tittle's 1979 review of Fishman's (1977) study of adult and juvenile diversion programs in New York City.(back)
12. For an example of diversion research which has combined official rearrest data with self-report data, see Klein (1975). For an example of diversion research aimed at assessing perceptions through inter-viewing techniques, see Pasternoster et al. (1979).(back)
13. For a detailed account of California's local institution and intensive probation alternatives to state institutions, see California Probation, Parole, and Correctional Association (1963) and Smith (1971).(back)
14. See Lerman (1975) and Blomberg (1978a).(back)
15. See, for example, Rutherford and McDermott (1976), Young and Pappenfort (1977), Schneider et al. (1978a, 1978b), and Klein (1979).(back)
16. See Blomberg (1977a, 1978a, 1978b).(back)
17. California's Proposition 13 and similar legislative considerations reflect a growing mood that will no doubt considerably influence justice system funding and operations. LEAA's current nationwide effort to train various federal, state, and local criminal justice Personnel in project-monitoring and evaluation, to-ether with offering evaluation technical assistance, reflects the trend toward increased accountability.(back)
18. This information was gained through interviews with administrative personnel of Florida's Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, and through review of related departmental and legislative budget documents.(back)
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