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Study: Diversion Court a success

Judge Brandon Birmingham
Judge Brandon Birmingham

A recent study, conducted by the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute proves DA-driven diversion court to be an overwhelming success by saving taxpayers money while drastically reducing recidivism rates amongst graduates. The Meadows’ Recidivism and Cost Benefit Analysis Report specifically focused on AIM, the county’s first District Attorney-driven diversion court started in 2016. AIM, which stands for Achieve Inspire Motivate, focuses on giving non-violent felony offenders ages 17-24, a second chance at life.

The Report shows a 74% reduction in recidivism among AIM Court participants when compared to similarly situated probationers. What’s more is that it has been proven that there is a 94% reduction in recidivism amongst AIM Court graduates.

“This impressive 74% reduction in recidivism and positive cost-benefit analysis is proof that collaboration between inspired and creative Judges and the DA’s office can create meaningful change in the lives of our youth,” said Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot.

While this diversion program was initiated by the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office, the Court’s presiding Judge, Hon. Brandon Birmingham continues to be a vital reason behind the program’s success noted within the Report.

“The study proves that a creative approach to reducing recidivism works. Watching the AIM staff effect meaningful, positive change in our youth has been the highlight of my time on the bench,” said Judge Birmingham. “The program is difficult, but the payoff is huge – not just for the individual, but for all of us,” he continued.

The AIM Court takes a holistic approach to diversion by providing life skills training, counseling, and substance use disorder treatment, if needed. During their 18 months of monitoring and case management, participants are required to obtain either employment or their GED before graduating to become productive, contributing members of society rather than victims of the criminal justice system’s revolving door.

Not only has AIM Court been proven to increase public safety through its reduced recidivism rates, the diversion initiative has been shown to save taxpayer dollars.

Specifically, the Report concludes that for every $1 invested into AIM Court, the criminal justice system saves $6.86. It is clear that this study not only sets AIM Court up to be a model diversion initiative in North Texas, but in jurisdictions nationwide. To that end, DA John Creuzot shared his hopes for the AIM Court’s influence on the criminal justice system:

“It is my desire that this study provides a pathway for other jurisdictions to implement this type of positive change, thereby reducing incarceration and its costs to the public, while creating safer communities.”

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