- Office of the State Auditor
Media Contact for Audit Recommends Ways Bristol District Attorney’s Office Can Better Measure Success of Juvenile Diversion Program
Mike Wessler, Communications Director
Boston — State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump today released an audit of the Bristol County District Attorney’s Office (BCDA) that examined the administration of its Juvenile Diversion Program and Victim Witness Assistance Program. In the audit, Bump recommends BCDA collect data to assess whether its Juvenile Diversion Program is meeting its goals and use that data to improve the program.
The Juvenile Diversion Program at BCDA is available at the discretion of Assistant District Attorneys, to offenders who are 18 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, writing an essay, and completing an educational program. Upon successful completion, the charges against the participant are dismissed. The program is not required or governed by statute. BCDA 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.
“When a young person commits a low-level offense, it is in all of our best interest to ensure she or he is not permanently burdened with a criminal record,” Bump said. ”The Bristol County District Attorney’s Office should be commended for offering the Juvenile Diversion Program. To ensure this program is meeting its goals, I encourage the DA’s office to improve its data collection and monitoring. Improved data collection will not only help to make the program work better but will also help to make the case to lawmakers and the public that these diversion programs are worthy investments.”
In the audit, Bump calls on the BCDA to improve its identification, collection, and evaluation of Diversion Program data. Bump notes that tracking this information will allow BCDA to better assess the effectiveness of the program, and provide information to the Legislature and other stakeholders on its performance.
Bump recently released similar audits that examined the juvenile diversion programs in the Worcester District Attorney’s Office and the Hampden District Attorney’s Office. Both audits also called for improved data collection in the programs.
BCDA serves four cities and 16 towns in southeastern Massachusetts and operates from four 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.