Philadelphia Youth Diversion Program Yields Major Drop in School-Based Arrests

Despite a national increase in youth arrests associated with school incidents, Philadelphia’s Police School Diversion Program, launched in 2014, has decreased the number of youth arrests from nearly 1,600 in the school year beginning in 2013 to just 251 arrests in the school year beginning in 2018 (84 percent), Amanda NeMoyer and Naomi Goldstein report for The Conversation. Since then, school district data indicates the annual number of school-based arrests in Philadelphia has continued to decline — dropping to just 147 arrests in the school year that began in 2022, a 91 percent reduction from the year before the program started. Diverted students were significantly less likely to be suspended, expelled or required to transfer to another school in the year following their school-based incident. A cost-benefit analysis also revealed that the program saves taxpayers millions of dollars. The diversion program did not appear to affect long-term educational outcomes.

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