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Press Release Auditor Bump Recommends Improved Data Collection for Worcester County District Attorney’s Young Adult Diversion Program to Assess Program Effectiveness

Audit found that better data collection by the program can improve transparency and assessment of its success.
For immediate release:
3/23/2018
  • Office of State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump

Media Contact for Auditor Bump Recommends Improved Data Collection for Worcester County District Attorney’s Young Adult Diversion Program to Assess Program Effectiveness

Mike Wessler, Communications Director

The front of the  Worcester District Courthouse

BostonState Auditor Suzanne M. Bump today released an audit of the Worcester County District Attorney’s Office-Middle District (WCDA) that examined the administration of its Young Adult Diversion Program (YADP), Victim/Witness Assistance Program, and Drug Forfeiture Community Reinvestment Program. The audit found no deficiencies in two of the programs and provided recommendations to improve and evaluate the YADP. The audit is the first in a series focused on YADPs administered by district attorneys across the Commonwealth.

The Young Adult Diversion Program is available to first-time offenders between the ages of 17 and 22 who are charged with certain nonviolent crimes, including possession and purchase of alcohol, disturbing the peace, and shoplifting. It aims to help young people who have committed minor offenses avoid getting a criminal record for those offenses. Participants are allowed to postpone their arraignment for 90 days while completing the program’s education and community service requirements, and paying court costs. Upon successful completion, the charges against the participant are dismissed before the arraignment.

In the audit, Bump calls on the WCDA to improve its identification, collection, and evaluation of data in a number of areas, including participant recidivism. Bump notes that tracking this information will allow WCDA to better assess the impact of the program on its participants, and provide a level of transparency to the Legislature and other stakeholders on the program’s effectiveness. While it is not an explicit goal of the YADP, the audit notes that reducing recidivism rates of participants is widely viewed as a primary purpose of this type of diversion program.

“As our state looks to reform our criminal justice system to reduce incarcerations and promote innovative diversion programs, it is essential that these programs collect data that allow state and local leaders to analyze operations and determine whether the programs are meeting their intended goals,” Bump noted of the audit. “I appreciate the Worcester County District Attorney’s Office cooperation during the audit process and commend them for taking steps to improve the Young Adult Diversion Program in response to our audit. This is an example of how we can work together to make government work better.”

Additionally, the audit found that WCDA was not documenting participants’ completion of all program requirements, and did not require most participants to complete the required online education programs. WCDA officials told auditors that online educational programs were not available for all relevant offenses, some participants did not have access to a computer, and one could not speak English. In these instances, participants were allowed to complete additional community service hours instead of the online education program, despite the education being a requirement of the program. In response to the audit, WCDA noted that has improved documentation of participant completion of all program requirements, and has adjusted its online education program to accommodate the needs of participants.

WCDA serves four cities and 56 towns in central Massachusetts and has 11 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 of the Worcester County District Attorney’s Office- Middle District is available here.

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Media Contact for Auditor Bump Recommends Improved Data Collection for Worcester County District Attorney’s Young Adult Diversion Program to Assess Program Effectiveness

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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