Diversion Programs

Diverting people away from the criminal justice system is one of PCAO’s top priorities in lowering the population of incarcerated people in Pima County and Arizona. Our Office is dedicated to diversion because getting people help for substance use disorder and mental illness, rather than incarcerating them, will keep families together and help create a safer, more equitable Pima County. Read below about some of the ways PCAO diverts people away from incarceration toward healthier, happier lives.
diversion programs

Diversion Unit

Jordanna Carvalho, Supervisor

PCAO’s Diversion programs divert both youth and adults out of the criminal justice system, while still holding each person accountable for the harms caused to the community and the victims. The adult diversion program is comprised of 12 separate diversion entities that address various misdemeanor and felony offenses, whereas the youth program focuses primarily on those accused of misdemeanor offenses. Each entity provides the individual with a set of requirements that must be met to complete the program successfully. These requirements provide the person with the tools, education, and resources needed to repair the harm caused by their offense and grow as an individual. PCAO partners with several organizations throughout Pima County to achieve this rehabilitative approach.

CMPS Court

Vanessa Helms, Director of Specialty Court Programs

Consolidated Misdemeanor Problem Solving (CMPS, or “Compass”) Court is a regional misdemeanor pre-conviction and post-conviction court supervision program for people with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders who have had frequent contact with law enforcement and/or have multiple open cases in one or more participating jurisdictions within Pima County. The program focuses on people who are high-risk (likely to recidivate) and high-need (significant behavioral health and substance use issues) as determined by screening and assessment tools. As an alternative to incarceration, CMPS Court provides participants the opportunity to achieve recovery, reduce recidivism, restore relationships, obtain housing and income stability, and successfully reintegrate into the community.

Drug Treatment Alternative to Prison

Vanessa Helms, Director of Specialty Court Programs

The Drug Treatment Alternative to Prison (DTAP) program is an enhanced drug court option for people who would otherwise go to prison. It provides people with severe substance use disorder and non-violent, non-dangerous felony convictions with the opportunity to participate in intensive treatment and probation supervision. The program includes: probation monitoring, drug testing, intensive treatment, clinical coordination between the court and treatment providers, wrap-around recovery services, and employment/vocational programming for participants to develop job skills and secure meaningful employment.

Supportive Treatment and Engagement Programs with Services (STEPs)

Amy Ruskin, Supervisor

Spearheaded by Pima County Superior Court Judge Danielle Liwski, and in partnership between PCAO, Pima County Public Defense Services, and the Pima County Administrator, STEPs is an award-winning court program designed around pre-indictment treatment for substance use disorder that is based upon a person’s need. Those who qualify for the program enter into an agreement with the State that they will meaningfully engage in a treatment program based on their needs. If the person so engages for an agreed-upon period (a minimum of at least 30 days), they may be released from the program as graduated or promoted, and the State thus agrees to not file formal charges against them. If for some reason, the person does not engage fully for a great length of time or at all, the participant will be removed from STEPs and the State may proceed to indictment.