Louisiana’s state law allows for post-arrest, pretrial diversion programs that are operated by prosecuting attorneys around the state.
While these can provide better outcomes for individuals who are eligible to participate, the state sets no standards for the type of interventions that are provided, and no standards for access by people who cannot afford participation fees. State law is silent on pre-arrest diversion programs, but there are examples of public-private partnerships in the state. Louisiana could improve its diversion services by establishing more pre-arrest diversion programs and establishing evidence-based standards for post-arrest diversions, as well as ensuring that the programs are accessible to all justice-involved people.
Pre-Arrest Diversion Availability
State law does not establish pre-arrest diversion programs but the law is permissive for the creation of local programs. There are private diversion programs in the state, like LEAD in New Orleans.1
Post-arrest diversion programs are allowed under state law and operated by district attorneys throughout the state.2 3 4 Prosecutors offer post-arrest diversion services to individuals who have been arrested and charged with a crime. Participants can complete programming as an alternative to trial and sentencing for their offense. While services vary between jurisdictions, they are available throughout the state.
State law imposes few guidelines on the operation of post-arrest diversion programs in the state. District attorneys decide how to set fees for participation in the program, who can access the program, and can provide access at no charge to indigent people, at their discretion. Policies vary between districts. This lack of statewide standards denies access to some individuals who cannot afford to participate in diversion.
District attorneys have broad latitude to operate diversion programs. The lack of state standards results in programs of varying quality throughout the state. While most programs are relatively short in duration, few appear to offer any evidence-based interventions. The lack of standards results in varying degrees of success among participants, due in part to varying qualities of the interventions applied.
1. LEAD New Orleans, https://www.nola.gov/health-department/behavioral-health/lead/