Diversion Courts Work--If you Have Money
Date:  12-13-2016

Study found that in some places diversion courts were used as a way to gain revenue
From The New York Times

During the tough financial times of 2011, Marcy Willis, a single mother who raised five children in Atlanta, used her credit card to rent a car for an acquaintance in exchange for cash. But the man — and the car — disappeared, she said. Four months later, when Ms. Willis finally recovered the car and returned it, she was charged with felony theft.

As a first-time offender, Ms. Willis, 52, qualified for a big break: a program called pretrial intervention, also known as diversion. If she took 12 weeks of classes, performed 24 hours of community service and stayed out of trouble, her case would be dismissed and her arrest could be expunged, leaving her record clean.

Diversion is not uncommon. Last year, Rebecca Horting, a 36-year-old nurse in Topeka, Kan., was offered a similar deal for an offense that caused far greater harm. She was charged with reckless battery and texting while driving after she hit a girl on a bicycle, causing brain damage and the loss of a leg. Both women did what was required of them, yet their cases took different paths. The reason: money.

Ms. Horting was able to pay $1,138 in fees and is on track to have her case dismissed.

Ms. Willis, who owed $690, had a harder time. When she paid all but $240, her case was sent back to court for prosecution. By that time, the arrest had already led to her losing her job, and then her apartment. At a homeless shelter, she was robbed. Accustomed to earning a living, she began to despair.

Continue Reading >>