Sonoma County, CA
In June 2019, Sonoma County, CA, became the first county to join the Improving Outcomes for Youth (IOYouth) initiative. Sonoma County had already witnessed notable declines in the number of young people on supervision—a 40-percent decrease from 2014 to 2018. Yet some youth who don’t pose a risk to public safety and would be better served in the community are detained because of a lack of alternatives.
A comprehensive data-driven assessment of the county’s juvenile justice system culminated in policy changes. The Sonoma County Probation Department is developing formal policies and criteria about eligibility for diversion that will be based primarily on the results of a risk screening tool. The department also plans to work with local law enforcement agencies to establish and/or expand pre-arrest diversion programs to directly address front-end racial disparities and create diversion services that more effectively serve the needs of youth of color.