Doesn’t Chesa just send everyone to diversion or restorative justice and fail to have real accountability?
Some forms of diversion (pre-filing) are decided by the DA instead of filing charges, but most are after the DA has filed charges and diversion eligibility is determined and run by the court. Some forms of diversion are state-wide laws (like mental health diversion) and others are programs run in SF courts for decades. These are essentially treatment courts that try to address the struggles or situations someone is facing that led them to commit a crime–whether it’s mental health, addiction, being a young adult, or homelessness. These are intensive programs that require participants to follow up on many strict requirements and have meaningful accountability. If they succeed, they can earn a dismissal. If they don’t? Well, then the DA can still prosecute the traditional route.
Diversion programs are shown to reduce recidivism , especially for drug and violent crimes. A California Policy Lab evaluation from this year that looked at more than 10 years of SF collaborative court diversion looked at recidivism for the 5 years after a crime occurred and found that felony defendants who go through collaborative courts are almost 20% less likely to be convicted of a new crime than if they went through traditional prosecution. It found positive effects just from being sent to diversion even for folks who don’t complete the entire program.
Restorative justice is a program that focuses on accountability by forcing someone who commits a crime to take responsibility and try to repair the harm. It centers the victim and their needs–which is why victims who undergo restorative justice tend to feel more satisfied with the process. The California Policy Lab also found that young people referred to restorative justice in SF were 44% less likely to be rearrested than kids who aren’t in the program.