Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $1,000,000)
The Vera Institute of Justice’s (Vera) Reshaping Prosecution initiative seeks funding to address inequities in access to diversion programs for justice-involved communities. Vera will partner with prosecutors and community-based organizations that serve justice-involved communities to build or expand a diversion program that addresses a health and safety need in the local community and includes the following features: (1) has no automatic exclusions based on criminal history, (2) has no mandatory fines or fees, (3) adopts a needs-based public health approach (as opposed to an offense-based approach), (4) provides programming and case management through a community-based organization, and (5) consults justice-involved communities to create metrics to evaluate the diversion program. Each partnership will include three main components: collaboration with a community partner to implement and support their diversion program through research support and other resources, collaboration with the prosecutor's office to implement racially equitable processes for diversion referrals, and quantitative and qualitative research to collect data for process and outcome evaluations of diversion programs. Vera will also provide subgrants to the community partners to support increasing diversion capacity.
Expected products include implementation and evaluation tools such as guides and fact sheets for building and evaluating the success of the previously described diversion programs; a report to share lessons learned and qualitative and quantitative research collected from the partnerships, including around recidivism and metrics chosen by the local community; and a Vera-led learning community of past partners to support sustainability and help spread similar diversion programs across the field.