Pretrial diversion into drug treatment and other rehabilitative programs helps to save many defendants each year from the stigma and other negative consequences of a criminal conviction. Overall, about eight percent of felony defendants in large urban counties are diverted. Is this benefit distributed fairly among different racial and ethnic groups? New research by Traci Schlesinger suggests not.
Schlesinger analyzed data on pretrial diversion in felony cases in urban counties from 1990 to 2006. Even controlling for offense severity and criminal history, Schlesinger found that black defendants were about twenty-eight percent less likely, and Hispanic defendants about thirteen percent less likely, to receive pretrial diversion than non-Hispanic white defendants.
Schlesinger’s article is forthcoming in Race and Justice.