• Description

Diversion programs have emerged as an alternative to the traditional criminal justice system, particularly for non-violent offenses. The Supporting Education and Employment Development (SEED) program is a 13-month pre-plea deferred-prosecution program, which aims to serve emerging adults, aged 18-26, charged with Delivery or Intent to Deliver in Cook County, Illinois. Heartland Alliance's Social IMPACT Research Center worked with the SEED team to evaluate the implementation of the SEED program between May 2021 and June 2023. Overall, results of this evaluation show that despite some operational challenges, SEED was implemented smoothly. However, interviewees did indicate there were opportunities for program refinement and additional evaluation. Longer term evaluation of SEED and its effects on both participants and the criminal justice system will take time and requires tracking participants beyond the immediate end of the program.