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Press Release Audit Calls on Norfolk DA to Better Track Success of its Diversion Program

Audit found Norfolk DA was collecting data on its Diversion Program, but was not using it to assess program performance.
For immediate release:
10/24/2018
  • Office of the State Auditor

Media Contact for Audit Calls on Norfolk DA to Better Track Success of its Diversion Program

Mike Wessler, Communications Director

The Norfolk Superior Court

BostonState Auditor Suzanne M. Bump today released an audit of the Norfolk District Attorney’s Office (NDAO) that examined the administration of its Diversion Program and Victim Witness Assistance Program. In the audit, Bump recommends NDAO use data collected related to its Diversion Program to assess whether the program is meeting its goals and to make needed improvements.

 The Diversion Program at NDAO is available at the discretion of Assistant District Attorneys, to offenders who are 23 years old or younger, charged with certain nonviolent crimes including alcohol offenses, disturbing the peace, disorderly conduct, and shoplifting. Program participants can postpone their arraignments while completing program requirements, which may include paying restitution, sending a letter of apology, performing community service, and completing an educational program. Upon successful completion, the charges against the participant are dismissed. NDAO does not receive separate funding for the program but instead uses the money the Legislature appropriates each year to fund the office’s general operations. NDAO estimates the annual cost of the program to be $30,350.

“As our state legislature and judiciary strive to improve our criminal justice system, performance goals and measures are essential. The Norfolk District Attorney’s Office already collects important information involving its Diversion Program and uses it to ensure program completion. In our opinion, however, the program would benefit from the articulation of long-term goals and desired public safety outcomes. Data indicating program success would also aid in making the case to lawmakers that this is a program worthy of additional investment,” Bump said of the audit.

Recently, Bump released an audit of the Plymouth County District Attorney’s Office, which found the office also was collecting but not analyzing this data over the long term. In its response, the Plymouth DA’s Office indicated it would begin to use this data to assess the program’s success. Audits of the Bristol, Worcester and Hampden District Attorneys’ Offices called on these offices to start collecting and analyzing this data.

NDAO serves one city and 26 towns in eastern Massachusetts and works from the superior and juvenile courts, and five district courts. It represents the Commonwealth at bail hearings, commitment proceedings related to criminal matters, and rendition proceedings. It also assists in the investigation and prosecution of a variety of criminal activities.

The audit of the Norfolk District Attorney's Office is available here.

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Media Contact for Audit Calls on Norfolk DA to Better Track Success of its Diversion Program

Office of the State Auditor 

The Office of State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump (OSA) conducts audits, investigations, and studies to promote accountability and transparency, improve performance, and make government work better.
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