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March 3, 2010 > Cortese asks for diversion program

Cortese asks for diversion program

Submitted By Rabia Chaudhry

Supervisor Cortese asked the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors at their March 2 meeting to support developing an ordinance as a first step towards establishing a formal pre-trial diversion program for non-violent first offenders in some misdemeanor cases.

The program, allowed under the California Penal Code, would apply to adults only and divert such offenders from the criminal court system towards alternative activities such as completing education and treatment programs, community service and restitution for crimes involving a victim. The program applies only to misdemeanors and is eligible to those who have never been convicted with a felony and those without a misdemeanor within the past five years.

The program does not apply to DUIs, most violent crimes and sex offenses - crimes considered most damaging to public safety. Similar programs operate in San Francisco, Contra Costa and Marin counties.

"I believe many of the offenders who fit into this category are ripe for education and rehabilitation and would really benefit from early intervention," said Cortese. "It would also free up scarce resources to those cases involving more serious threats to public safety."

While diversion is used already in Santa Clara County, it is less stringent than what is prescribed in the penal code. A program would only become operable if the Board of Supervisors adopts an ordinance enabling such a program to exist AND the District Attorney approves the implementation of such a program.

For more information, contact Rabia Chaudhry at (408) 299-5030.

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