The Athens-Clarke County Pre-Arrest Diversion (PAD) Program is a collaborative effort of the Athens-Clarke County Police Department, the Athens-Clarke County Solicitor General’s Office, the Athens-Clarke County Probation Services, and the Athens-Clarke County community. PAD is an initiative intended to divert first-time offenders of low-level, non-violent offenses away from arrest while holding them accountable for their behaviors. However, it is not a "get out of jail free" card.
As a department and community, we recognize the long-term value of identifying and addressing the root causes of certain minor criminal conduct (e.g., misdemeanor shoplifting and criminal trespass). Mental health crises, substance abuse disorders, homelessness, and other conditions are often underlying issues that influence the behaviors of individuals within our community. If we can successfully mitigate these types of root causes, then we believe we can reduce the rate of criminal recidivism and, thus, criminality.
In general, only individuals who commit certain minor offenses and do not have pending charges or prior criminal convictions are eligible. Officers who encounter an eligible and willing individual may refer him/her to the PAD program by citing them (as opposed to making an arrest) for the criminal offense and submitting proper documentation to the Solicitor General for review. PAD participants are expected to complete tailored requirements set through the Solicitor General’s Office that are designed to correct their individual behaviors. Participant success or failure is monitored through the Probation Services. Unsuccessful participants are subject to being removed from the program and prosecuted for the initial criminal offense. However, those who are successful in the program will not be prosecuted. This process is intended to simultaneously address individuals’ underlying issues/needs that influence criminal behaviors and meet the needs of society and the criminal justice system by mitigating recidivism, reducing crime rates, and decreasing costs.