Diversion Programs Successfully Lower Incarceration Rates

by | Jun 28, 2024

OSBI’s most recent crime reporting shows that in 2021 the crime rate in Oklahoma City was 77.88 per 1,000 residents, compared to 102.72 per 1,000 in Tulsa. Additional reporting by the FBI shows that crimes counted as part of the National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS) have decreased or remain flat in most categories in Oklahoma. But is this the full story?

Crime is societal and it’s complicated. Understanding our crime rates requires a lot of data and research. In fact, experts say that it is too difficult to pinpoint any specific policies as the sole cause of increasing or decreasing crime rates. Policies around housing, healthcare, education, and the many other systems that have both positive and negative impacts on people could have cumulative positive and negative impacts on crime rates.

Diversion programs like Oklahoma County Treatment Court, TEEM, Diversion Hub, and others are overwhelmingly successful at diverting individuals from prison, which is what they are intended to do. Graduation rates across the board for these programs are all above 90%, while the rates of recidivism are equal to or better than that of those who were incarcerated alone. Diversion works better than imprisonment for most people.

While these programs aren’t intended to be a cure-all for crime prevention, crime in many categories, especially the violent ones, as reported by Oklahoma City Police Department is decreasing or remaining flat. This is especially striking during a time when the Oklahoma County Jail has dramatically decreased its population, and statewide prison populations have decreased since 2019.

Research also shows that pretrial release programs, specifically used to provide support and services to individuals who have been charged with a crime but are still presumed innocent, are effective at improving outcomes for participants. Compared to individuals who remained in custody before trial, individuals released to a pretrial program were more likely to maintain employment, have stable housing, and were less likely to be charged with additional crimes in the future.

 As seen in the OKC Friday on June 28, 2024.