Prosecutors praise success of DuPage diversion program
Just more than five years after its inception, DuPage County prosecutors are celebrating the 100th person to successfully complete their Pre-Trial Diversion Program.
The DuPage County state's attorney's office created the program in August 2012 as a way to give first-time nonviolent offenders an opportunity to keep a felony from being permanently attached to their record.
Successful completion of the program is defined as a participant who satisfactorily finishes the program and doesn't receive another misdemeanor or felony conviction within the following year.
Since its inception, prosecutors have received roughly 285 applications. A review of the first 100 completions reveals that 94.37 percent of participants have not been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony within a year of completing the program. There currently are 30 participants in the program.
"Nationally, approximately 68 percent of convicted offenders successfully complete probation," DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin said. "When compared to that number, a success rate of nearly 95 percent for participants in our program is outstanding."
To be considered, participants must undergo a thorough qualification process. Once qualified, the participant is required to plead guilty to the alleged offense.
Upon successful completion of the program, prosecutors move to vacate the guilty plea and dismiss the pending charges against the defendant.
If, however, a participant fails to successfully complete the program, prosecutors will ask that a judge terminate the defendant from the program. If a judge so orders, the case is returned to the court for a sentencing hearing on the charges.
"What I find particularly encouraging is that this is a win/win situation for the participant and the community," Berlin said. "The participant benefits by avoiding a felony conviction on their record and the community benefits with the participant having the opportunity to become a productive member of society."
Prosecutors declined Tuesday to provide any details about the 100th successful case.