UMKC Law Review


The idea of finding alternatives to the traditional approach of arresting, prosecuting, and punishing an individual for criminal behavior in the hopes it will deter future illegal conduct is not new. In 1947, the Judicial Conference of the United States met to make recommendations for the first diversion programs focusing on youthful offenders. Approximately fifteen years later, states began to explore diversion as an option for some adult lawbreakers.

The birth of diversion generated a novel approach to addressing criminal activity. However, before any individual could participate in a diversion program, law enforcement arrested the person which imposed a host of struggles upon him or her. From this unavoidable repercussion, the concept of deflection emerged. Unlike diversion, deflection intervenes at the moment of initial police contact or prior to law enforcement involvement.

Since deflection as a concept is rather new throughout the United States, locales wishing to implement programs have few guiding principles in creating their own processes. The Federal Government had largely remained silent on the concept of deflection until 2022 when the White House Office of National Drug Policy announced The Model Law Enforcement Officer and Other First Responder's Deflection Act.

This Article will provide a thorough analysis of the Act, review the history behind deflection programs, and then review specific key sections of the act while comparing them to other programs currently in existence. Finally, the author will offer specific ideas for those places wishing to implement deflection to improve their criminal justice systems.