Residents of Fort Bend County, Texas, who are facing charges for nonviolent crimes may be able to avoid a criminal conviction and the associated jail time or formal probation sentencing. As noted on the county’s Government CSCD web page, a pretrial intervention and diversion program may provide certain nonviolent-crime defendants with an alternative to criminal processing. 

A Community Supervision and Corrections Departments Pretrial Intervention Program, if completed successfully, may enable an offender to avoid a criminal record and penalties. The District Attorney’s Office makes the offer of the program, and the defendant must then comply with the specific terms of the agreement. The terms may include electronic monitoring, an ignition interlock or random drug and alcohol testing. 

Diversion programs to reduce mass incarceration and provide a second chance 

Rather than suffer the consequences of a criminal conviction, first-time nonviolent offenders may have an opportunity for a fresh start. As noted by the Fort Bend Independent, the county’s diversion programs are also intended to reduce high rates of mass incarceration while using tax dollars wisely. The county expects to save money by shortening the time required to resolve criminal cases and by reducing incarceration costs. 

Typical diversion program participants 

First-time offenders accused of DUI or possession of cannabis are typical contenders for a diversion program. Applicants must show that they are ready to receive instruction or treatment and are willing to accept responsibility for their actions. Instead of posting cash bonds, low-risk offenders may also have an opportunity to post personal recognizance bonds. 

Diversion programs focused on rehabilitation rather than punishment 

Youthful defendants have much to gain from pretrial intervention programs. Fort Bend County’s diversion programs may be one of the most effective ways for juveniles to avoid the school-to-prison pipeline. Sparing a young offender from the collateral consequences of a trial, conviction and sentencing can instead place the focus on rehabilitation. Productive alternatives to incarceration may provide a teen with a much-needed second chance when an out-of-character mistake results in an arrest.