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Persuasive Argument for Pretrial Diversion, Speech Example

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Words: 1189

Speech

Pretrial diversion (PTD), the popular alternative to prosecution also known as pretrial intervention, is more than just a way to avoid prison.  The program can serve the duty of rehabilitation in ways that the prison system claims to offer but in many ways fails. Currently, there are over 11 million people in prison in the U.S. today. According to the “Report of the Re-entry Policy Council: Charting the Safe and Successful Return of Prisoners to the Community,” two out of every three prisoners released from prison return within three years (Angelo, p2).  This means the prison system either fails its inmates at attempts of rehabilitation, or that criminal behavior is genetic and those sent to prison were condemned since conception. I like to believe that human beings are capable of a wide range of actions, some moral, some immoral and that no one person is completely all bad or good. This means that anyone has the chance of getting arrested, and ultimately imprisoned. Without pretrial diversion, there would be no safety net, or second chance to separate potential career criminals from individuals who are just down on their luck.

If someone is charged and convicted of a crime, they serve the judgment laid down to them. The court system can be very basic at face value. As the previously mentioned study noted, if this judgment requires the convicted person to go to prison, the prisons system doesn’t offer too much for them in the way of rehabilitation. Pretrial diversion on the other hand, offers the following: one it offers those with criminal charges an alternative to traditional criminal court; two, it allows accused to join voluntarily, and three, if completed, all charges are dismissed (USAM, p1). The most important aspect of pretrial diversion is that, “it occurs no sooner than the filing of formal charges and no later than a final adjudication of guilt (USAM, p1).” The clever aspect of pretrial intervention, or diversion, deals with the creativity of the projects.  It is actually possible to learn from the process, if for example the program requires volunteer work, or community service.  The likelihood that one could actually take something from the program is more likely than if they were to spend the time in jail or prison.

There are benefits to pretrial diversion that go beyond simply avoiding conviction. The only people who are not eligible for it are those involved in matters of national security, a person who has two or more prior felony convictions, or one who is accused of certain charges that must be diverted to the state.  The process of being accepted into the pretrial diversion program is challenging, and it can be even more challenging to complete the process. In most cases, those accepted as participants in a pretrial diversion program, enter into an agreement with the prosecutor. In some cases, depending on the jurisdictions this agreement is entered into with the court. The person diverting their case must abide by the terms of their pretrial diversion agreement. Usually this involves prearranged counseling meetings, community service, or restitution to the victims of the crime. As Clark notes, “Their criminal case is held in abeyance while they are in the diversion program.  If they abide by the terms within the diversionary period the charge is dismissed.  If they fail to do so, the diversion is terminated, and their case is reinstated to the court docket for prosecution (Clark, p14).” Many view pretrial diversions as an easy way to avoid hard time, but if not taken seriously it can be a very difficult process.

The obligations set by pretrial diversion can be more complicated and difficult than just going to court and dealing with the being processed through the legal system. In many cases if one does not have the responsible nature necessary to make it through the pretrial diversion process, they could find it more difficult to endure than traditional prosecution. For example, someone charged with a drug or alcohol related crime for the first time may have accidently been caught driving under the influence, or selling illegal substances, or they may be an addict, in which case pretrial diversion would be extremely difficult without adequate addiction therapy.

In the case of Barry Dalton who failed to comply with his pretrial diversion agreement, a hearing was scheduled in response to his violation. After he failed to appear at that hearing, a warrant was issued and he was ultimately arrested. He was charged with felony obstructing official duty as a result of failing to appear on a felony charge. Prior to his trial on that charge, Dalton filed a motion asking that the charge be dismissed. He argued that the failure to appear was for violation of a diversion agreement (Clark p14). It was his position that, “violation of diversion proceedings are similar to violation of probation proceedings, which the Kansas courts have ruled are quasi-civil in nature.  Consequently, Dalton could not be charged with felony obstructing official duty. The trial court disagreed and Dalton took the case to the court of appeals (Clark, p14).” When all was said and done, the court of appeals revoked his diversion agreement and he was subject to the same charges for which he had been arrested. As Clark notes, “Once a defendant’s diversion status has been revoked, he or she must then answer to the exact criminal charges which were placed in abeyance pursuant to the diversion agreement (Clark, p14).” This goes to show that pretrial diversion is a gift, an opportunity offered by the criminal justice system to prevent first time offenders from getting trapped in a legal system from which statistic suggest they will never be able to escape.

In sum, pretrial diversion is more than just a way to avoid prosecution. It is a systematic way to distinguish potential career criminals from those who accidentally get caught in the system.  The reality of the criminal justice system is that it can be more detrimental to one’s future than a way to condition them out of the bad habits of the past.  Those who oppose pretrial diversion as a way of undermining the legal system or putting criminals back on the street, fail to recognize the level of responsibility involved in the pretrial intervention process.  If one is mean for prison, chances are they will find their way into a the system. If they aren’t meant for it, there is also a chance they could find themselves convicted of a crime they did not commit. Pretrial diversions is not a get out of jail free card; it’s difficult shot at eliminating habits of one’s character that may be leading them down the wrong path.

Work Cited

Angelo, Marty. “Interesting Statistics – Prisons, Arrests, Re-arrests, and Substance Abuse at Marty Angelo Ministries.” Interesting Statistics – Prisons, Arrests, Re-arrests, and Substance Abuse at Marty Angelo Ministries. Once Life Matters Ministries, Inc., 2011. Web. 01 Aug. 2012. <http://www.martyangelo.com/stats.htm>

Clark, John. “Pretrial Diversion and the Law: A Sampling of Four Decades of Appellate Court Rulings.” Pretrial Justice Institute, 2006. Web. 31 July 2012. <http://www.napsa.org/publications/ptdivcaselaw.pdf>.

“USAM 9-22.000 Pretrial Diversion Program.” USAM 9-22.000 Pretrial Diversion Program. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Aug. 2012. <http://www.justice.gov/usao/eousa/foia_reading_room/usam/title9/22mcrm.htm>.

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