Following the national trend, Douglas County, Kansas has experienced an explosion in its female jail population. Most incarcerated females are being held for misdemeanor or drug offenses, with a significant portion of the population in-custody because of failure on pre-trial release or probation.
Diversion has long been used to divert low level offenders away from the criminal justice system. Historically, any history of prior offenses has barred participation in standard diversion programs. Since standard diversion programs are designed to address low level offenders, support services such as drug treatment, employment assistance and housing stabilization are not addressed.
The District Attorney’s Office is developing a new pre-trial, prosecutor-led diversion program aimed at nonviolent repeat female offenders that will allow for quick release of the female to meaningful monitoring program with support services aimed at addressing substance abuse, mental health, housing and employment, resulting in restoration of their social status. The goal of the program is to rapidly divert the defendant from the jail to a system that addresses underlying issues contributing to her criminal behavior. If she successfully completes the support program, pending charges are dismissed with prejudice. We would start with a data-driven review of the target population and then engage local stakeholders to create a map of available resources to support them.