Diversion Program Finds Funding Source in The California Endowment, Commencing Pilot Program in Long BeachRelease Date: 2016-03-03
His proposal is two-fold, both addressing a demographic whose minds may not be fully formed, but also a demographic which statistically represents the largest group in Long Beach and also the one most heavily impacted by unemployment. According to Pacific Gateway figures from 2015, that group experiences an unemployment rate that outpaces national averages across the board. In Long Beach, the unemployment figure for this age group is above 20 percent.
City Prosecutor Doug Haubert, who pushed for the diversion program alongside Richardson, said diversion not only reduces crime but also saves the taxpayers money in keeping cases out of court and people in jobs, not jails. According to his office’s website, some 5,000 qualify for diversion measures, a number that’s expected to go up with the recent passage of Proposition 47.
Although placement in PATH would be purely discretionary, as there are no set parameters for what crimes would qualify for the PATH program, it appears that a substantial number of youth stand to benefit from the beginning of the pilot program. Haubert’s office is no stranger to diversion programs, as it has assigned over 100,000 hours of community service to non-violent offenders over the past five years instead of dishing out jail sentences or fines.
Haubert said that the expansion of diversion process will make the city safer, and it’s something he embraces. His office has help expand the city’s history of innovative diversion measures over the past few years, PATH being the newest addition to his office’s tool chest.
“This is the first workforce development focused court diversion program of which we know of in the United States,” Haubert said. “So Long Beach is doing something that is creative and innovative and hopefully it becomes a pilot project that other communities can look at.”
The program, which calls for an additional $120,000 from the fiscal budget to hire a diversion coordinator in Haubert's office, will also ask the Department of Economic and Property Development for an additional $75,000, although The California Endowment's contribution is not contingent on matching funds.