Wednesday, September 19, 2018
Public safety

No changes for Pinellas County's arrest diversion program

Law enforcement and judicial representatives from Pinellas County met last week to discuss the state of an arrest diversion program that started last year and decide whether any changes should be made.

The group decided not to make any revisions, said Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, saying the program was "meeting and exceeding expectations." But they did go over the most recent data, which shows almost 800 people have avoided arrest from its start last October through June 30.

Some other highlights:

• 3,228 people were screened for eligibility. Of those, 2,010 people, or 62 percent, were deemed ineligible, about half because they had prior arrests, Gualtieri said.

• Of the 1,218 people who were eligible, 778 completed the program, which consists mainly of community service and restitution. Another 89 are still pending. The rest did not complete the program requirements.

• Those who made it through the program completed more than 18,000 hours of community service and paid about $15,000 in restitution.

• The top offenses were marijuana and possession, possession of drug paraphernalia and retail theft.

The group will continue the discussion about the program's progress in early 2018 with a full year's worth of data.

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