International Development, Community and Environment (IDCE)

Date of Award


Degree Type

Research Paper

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Community Development and Planning (CDP)


International Development, Community and Environment

Chief Instructor

Laurie Ross

Second Reader

Shelly Tenenbaum


In October 2017, the city of Worcester began a three-month pilot program that worked to divert youth charged with domestic assault and battery crimes away from the criminal justice system and towards restorative services. Studies show that incapacitation, especially of low level offenders, does not reduce crime or produce better outcomes for individuals, families, or communities. Thus, it is essential to explore alternatives, such as diversion programs, that work to downsize the prison population, target the factors contributing to delinquency, and rehabilitate rather than purely punish offenders. For this study, I interviewed personnel involved in the implementation of the Family Chaos Diversion Program in Worcester to determine the foundations of the program, its challenges and successes, and recommendations for sustaining a program of this type in the future. Through these interviews, I discovered the efforts of the city of Worcester, the District Attorney’s Office, the Clerk’s Office, the Probation Office, and community and professional organizations to work together to implement and maintain a program that was an important step towards reforming the justice system. The interviews, combined with scholarship on the topic of juvenile justice reform, demonstrate that the Family Chaos Diversion Program laid a strong foundation for the future of diversion as an effective response to youth crime in the city of Worcester and beyond, but that further expansion of the program and the implementation of tracking measures will be necessary for its future success.





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