The Pretrial Diversion Division was founded on August 1, 1975. It was one of ten
model pretrial programs established by the U.S. Department of Labor under funding by Title
III of the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA). In 1976 the U.S.
Department of Labor in Washington D.C. judged the Baton Rouge model pretrial program the
most effective of all the DOL model pretrial programs. After more than twenty-one
years of operation, it is one of the most successful model programs nationwide. Recognition of its merit has come from the Department of Labor, the American Bar
Association, the New York State Employment and Training Council, and the National
Association of Counties (NACo).
In 1977, NACo judged this agency outstanding and awarded this office the national
County Achievement Award in the field of criminal justice. The staff has been called
upon often for technical assistance in the organization and establishment of similar
pretrial programs throughout the nation. In May, 1984, this office initiated the
incorporation of Professionals In Pretrial Services (PIPS). This Association is a
professional organization for all pretrial practitioners throughout the Southeastern
In 1993 the Parish Attorney properly aligned the Pretrial Diversion Program under the
administration of the Parish Attorney's Office.
The purpose of pretrial diversion is to intervene in the
normal judicial process to divert first offenders from the Baton Rouge City Court System. This diversion results in benefits to the participant, the community, the
prosecutor, the courts, and the jails in the following ways:
- The participants benefits by having the charges against him dismissed and his record expunged after successful completion of the program.
- The community benefits by a reduction in the rate of recidivism (return to crime).
- The prosecutor and the court benefit by saving time and money due to a reduction in the number of cases processed.
- The jails, benefit by a reduced inmate population, thus providing more jail space for the more serious and habitual offenders.
An individual should meet the following criteria in order to be eligible for pretrial
diversion. He should:
- have no previous conviction on his record (first offenders only);
- have allegedly committed a nonviolent misdemeanor;
- be at least seventeen (17) years of age.
Before an individual is accepted into pretrial diversion, the input of the victim and
the arresting officer are obtained. Their input is helpful and may result in the
prospective client being denied participation in the program.
Furthermore, all participation in the program is strictly voluntary. A person
cannot be forced to participate, nor can he forfeit any of his constitutional rights by
participating. Waiver of the right to a speedy trial must be obtained, but at any time the
participant may request that his case be returned to the city prosecutor's office for
normal processing. A base fee of $150.00 is assessed any pretrial participant who is
not determined indigent (economically disadvantaged). An additional fee of $50.00 is
assessed for any offense after the first charge with a maximum $250.00 total cost fee for
entry into the program (excluding ordered schools.) This fee is charged to help fund
in part the pretrial diversion program.
Once a participant is accepted into pretrial diversion, he attends regular counseling
meetings with his pretrial officer. If the participant has been charged with
misdemeanor theft, he is required to attend a one-day session of the responsible thinking
class, a court-sponsored shoplifting school. If the participant has been charged
with certain misdemeanors involving physical violence, he is required to attend the anger
management class. If a participant has been charged with any drug-related offense,
he is required to attend a drug abuse training seminar. If the participant is
charged with a domestic violence offense he is required to attend the Domestic Violence
Offender Program. A long term counseling session program for violent offenders.
In addition to attending an educational class, each participant may be required to
perform community service at public or private non-profit agencies in Baton Rouge. The
required number of volunteer hours is determined by the participant's alleged offense and
his economic status. This volunteer service is required to impress upon the
community that the Pretrial participant is striving to be recognized as a positive,
contributing member of the community.
These hours are monitored by the volunteer organization's supervisor and the pretrial
officer. The participant's job performance, as well as his attitude, determines his
overall program performance.
The participant is required to meet on a regular basis with his pretrial officer for
individual counseling sessions. The participant may also be required to submit to
random drug screens.
Persons arrested or summoned to appear upon the following offenses shall not be
allowed into the program unless so ordered.
- Aggravated Assault*
- Simple Assault
- Simple Battery
- Illegal Carrying a Weapon*
- Discharging of a Firearm*
* Will result in forfeiture of weapon.