The Portage County Diversion Program was created to provide low-risk first-time offenders a voluntary alternative to criminal adjudication by allowing them to fulfill a set of conditions designed to address, treat, or remedy issues specific to their offenses and needs. Evidence suggests traditional criminal justice practices can actually increase the likelihood of recidivism by exposing these individuals to higher-risk offenders. The Diversion Program limits or eliminates this exposure. Upon successful completion of the conditions, the charges against the defendant are not filed, dismissed, or amended. The program takes into consideration the offender's charges, risks, and needs before participation is approved. The two types of agreements that are offered are Deferred Prosecution Agreements (DPA) and Deferred Entry of Judgments (DEJ).
Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA)
Deferred Prosecution Agreements suspend the filing of criminal charges to allow a defendant a specific period of time to complete conditions particular to their offense and needs. These individuals tend to be self-correcting in that introducing them to the formal criminal justice system can be ineffective in reducing recidivism. Management of these cases is designed to be non-intrusive, allowing the defendant to complete the conditions and time necessary to have their charges disposed of. Furthermore, these agreements will not be public records. If defendants fail to fulfill their conditions or acquire a new criminal charge, the District Attorney's Office may resume prosecution of the offense(s).
Deferred Entry of Judgment (DEJ)
Deferred Entry of Judgment Agreements delays the entry of Judgment of Conviction for a specified time period, allowing the offender to complete conditions tailored to their needs. The difference between this agreement and the DPA is that a criminal complaint is filed, a plea of Guilty or No Contest is required, and all DEJs are public record. Furthermore, these agreements need the approval of the court. Conditions of this agreement can be similar to those of a DPA; however, the agreements could correlate with a probation term if the defendant is facing multiple criminal charges. After a specified period of time, if all requirements are satisfactorily performed and no new offenses have caused the court to vacate the DEJ, the offense will be either dismissed or reduced in severity.
The Diversion Coordinator screens all defendants referred to the Diversion Program. The COMPAS assessment is utilized to measure defendants' risks and needs and plays an integral role in determining conditions of the diversion agreement, which are tailored to address specific needs related to each participant. The primary duties of case management include monitoring defendants' compliance with their conditions, holding defendants accountable for their behavior, and ensuring completion of community service hours.
Diversion Program & How it Relates to Victims
The Diversion Program works in coordination with the Victim/Witness Coordinator to ensure victims have a voice when such cases are considered for diversion. The Diversion Program takes into account the impact a particular offense may have on victims of crime and strongly considers victim opinion before acceptance into the program. Restitution for any damages and harm reduction to the community are prioritized before agreements are finalized. The program complies with victims' rights legislation as established under Chapter 950 of the Wisconsin Statutes.