Seattle Prosecutor’s Diversions Help 1,500 Teens Avoid Misdemeanors


The 180 Program, a criminal-justice diversion effort funded by Seattle’s King County Prosecuting Attorney, gives minors accused of misdemeanor offenses a chance to have charges waived before they're even filed, reports the Seattle Times. The trade-off: Four hours in a weekend workshop, where participants hear from people who have changed their lives after brushes with the law, and brainstorm a new path for themselves. “Our job is to really understand that wall they see in front of them, get them to understand it's a hurdle and help them find a way to jump above it,” says Terrell Dorsey, co-director of the program. “A lot of people may think that you come into our program and you get a free pass. But you're getting more than a free pass; you're getting to develop healthier life skills.”

The 180 Program stemmed from conversations between King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg and Pastor Doug Wheeler, a leader in the African-American community. The first workshop was hosted in 2011. The program funded by the prosecutor's office has helped almost 1,500 young people avoid misdemeanor charges. “The community really grabbed a hold of this idea and put together a fantastic curriculum,” Satterberg said. “I'm absolutely confident that this program has a much better outcome than teaching (youth) where the courthouse is.”

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