While it may not seem like it in criminal dramas or highly-publicized trials, there are more solutions to a criminal case that don’t simply involve fines or sending a defendant to prison.
Court diversion programs are just one part of a multistage model of resources aimed at reducing Oklahoma’s increasing incarceration rate. Through treatments, community outreach, and more, people that find themselves in the justice system have alternatives to get the help they need while having their charges against them dropped.
From our dedicated team of criminal defense attorneys at Ford Law, here’s everything you need to know about court diversion programs in Oklahoma.
What Are Court Diversion Programs?
Court diversion programs are programs that provide alternate paths so that prison is not the only option for clearing a convicted person’s name and criminal record.
Oftentimes, this means signing an agreement that documents everything a defendant must do or must not do for the charges against them to be dropped by the prosecution.
These agreements may require actions like participating in drug or alcohol treatment programs, mental health and anger management practices, or other means of restorative justice such as community service.
For veterans that find themselves in the justice system, for example – whether as victims of circumstance or otherwise – there is a highly effective Veteran’s Court. Programs can also earn the “Zone4Vets” distinction for their services under the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (ODMHSAS).
This certifies that the program’s personnel have received specialized training and follow established practices for identifying at-risk veterans or veterans already in the criminal justice system for enhanced collaboration between veterans and community resources.
Oklahoma City diversion programs include:
- Female Diversion Program
- DUI and Drug Court
- Veteran’s Treatment Court
- Mental Health Court
- Misdemeanor Diversion Program
- OKC Community Sentencing
- ReMerge (for mothers and families)
Why Do We Need to Expand Court Diversion Programs?
The results of court diversion programs are clear to see through independent research studies and the results of these practices implemented across the state. Everyone benefits from these solutions, including taxpayers.
For example, the annual cost of a drug court ruling and agreement to participate in a structured and supervised program costs just $5,000 compared to $19,000 for incarceration.
Those who complete a mental health court are over seven times less likely to relapse to criminal actions and be incarcerated as a result than inmates who have done time and been released.
Who Suffers Most From Lacking Court Diversion Programs?
Currently, many people fall through the cracks in the guidelines of who is eligible for a court diversion program and who isn’t – particularly when it comes to our veterans.
Unfortunately, many people are treated the same when it comes to facing a trial, no matter their background or history. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and traumatic brain injuries as a result of battling on the frontlines are all overlooked when it comes to the ability to manage stressful stimuli.
This means that veterans who resort to violence against others or other self-destructive behaviors can often be sentenced to the highest degree, instead of being given the support they need after valiantly fighting for our country.
Without expanding these programs, Oklahoma County can only expect to see increased crime and recidivism rates as new and old criminals resort to self-serving and violent ways.
The Diversion Hub in Oklahoma City
The Diversion Hub is a comprehensive network dedicated to assisting individuals involved in the justice system in Oklahoma City:
“Our goal is to provide life-stabilizing resources and services to justice-involved individuals to help them become safe, self-sufficient, and stable members of the community, thereby reducing their encounters with the justice system.”
A client may be referred to the Diversion Hub by Oklahoma County judges or public defenders, private defense attorneys, the Misdemeanor Diversion Program, or other existing Diversion Hub projects.
The Diversion Hub provides assistance with a range of services, including:
- Mental Health Referrals
- Government Benefits
- Substance Abuse Referrals
- Education Referrals
- Legal Assitance (i.e., Rule 8 Hearings, Housing, Expungements)
Contact Jacqui Ford for Representation in Oklahoma
Jacqui Ford is dedicated to helping the people of Oklahoma City make it through their court cases and understand the problems they face. Jacqui is especially dedicated to supporting the veterans that have worked so hard to protect the country.
If you need help understanding the agreements you are to be provided, or are unsure what steps to take or whether you are eligible for court diversion programs, contact us at Jacqui Ford Law today.