Priced Out: A 50-State Survey of How Diversion Fees Create Unequal Justice


40 states & the District of Columbia have statutes expressly authorizing at least some type of fee for participation in a diversion program.

Diversion programs have been proven to produce good results for individuals and their communities: reducing recidivism, promoting accountability, and helping prosecutors and courts alleviate large caseloads. ​ However, when participation in a diversion program requires a fee, it creates a two-tiered justice system where those with enough money can avoid a criminal conviction and another where those who cannot afford these costs are formally prosecuted and face lifelong consequences from court involvement. Diversion program fees can disproportionately burden working-class and low-income individuals and contribute to racial disparities within the criminal legal system. The Fines and Fees Justice Center (FFJC) examined legislative authorization and statewide court rules in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to determine whether statutory provisions explicitly authorize or permit diversion program fees and, if so, whether they establish guidance or limits on what may be charged. In this report, diversion programs are defined as pre-prosecution programs offered by the criminal legal system that allow individuals to address alleged behavior without incurring the lasting repercussions of a criminal record. FFJC also conducted an in-depth examination of local diversion programs in over twenty states to contextualize state-level statutory authorizations.

You can read the full text here.

Key Findings:

  • Only six states cap how much a participant can be charged for diversion programs.
  • Connecticut sets a $600 program fee, a $100 application fee, and a $150 evaluation fee to participate in a diversion program.
  • Maryland, New York, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts statutes are silent on whether participants can be charged fees for diversion programs, but FFJC found programs in these states that charged fees for diversion programs or related costs.
  • 27 states have statutes establishing the fee amounts associated with participating in a diversion program.
  • Only 21 states and the District of Columbia require a person’s ability to pay diversion program fees be considered.
    • Connecticut, Nevada, Oklahoma, and South Carolina expressly prohibit denying participants from participating in a diversion program for an inability to pay the fee or costs.