Thursday, August 11, 2016

Criminal Justice Reform comes to Pinellas County

Today Sheriff Bob Gualtieri put forward his Adult Pre Arrest Diversion Program. Among the highlights:

--The diversion program applies to a variety of misdemeanor offenses including theft, assault, battery, trespass, disorderly conduct, petit theft and possession of marijuana.
--If the offender meets the criteria, law enforcement must refer them to diversion instead of making an arrest.
--There is no cost to the offender for the diversion program. They will complete public service and possibly be referred to a program.
--The program will be adopted via a memorandum of understanding between all the local players in the criminal justice system. This means no ordinance has to be passed by the county or any of the municipalities.
--Successful completion of diversion means no record of arrest or conviction.
--The program is available to second and third offenders.

All in all, it appears that this program is a major improvement over the status quo. The goal is to reduce the number of admissions to the Pinellas County Jail, reduce the number of persons on probation, allow minor offenders an opportunity to avoid an arrest record, and promote fairness for all persons.