Thousands of defendants avoid convictions by resolving their cases through community service and substance abuse treatment in a non-trial diversion program
PHILADELPHIA (December 3, 2015) – Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams today announced a major milestone: 20,000 criminal cases have been diverted into the city’s Accelerated Misdemeanor Program (AMP). AMP is a pre-trial diversion program for individuals charged with non-violent misdemeanor crimes. Defendants can resolve their cases without being placed on probation or sentenced to jail, often resulting in no criminal conviction.
“Twenty thousand cases have been diverted out of our courtrooms, which helps our courts, and thousands and thousands of Philadelphians who have received the second chance they deserve for a poor decision in an otherwise law abiding life – like I often say – that is smart on crime,” said District Attorney Williams. “In addition to the team at the District Attorney’s Office, the Municipal Court of Philadelphia, the Defenders Association of Philadelphia and Philadelphia Health Management Corporation deserve congratulations for working in partnership and for reaching this impressive milestone.”
AMP began as a pilot program in 2010 focusing on community service for first time offenders. In October 2011, AMP was expanded to its current two-tier system in which non-violent misdemeanor cases are resolved without trial. Since that time, the program has accounted for over 20 percent of all misdemeanor cases.
Under a restorative justice model, AMP Tier 1 provides first-time offenders with an opportunity to resolve their case by completing up to 18 hours of community service at court approved sites in the neighborhood where their crime was committed. Once their community service is complete and court costs paid, their case is withdrawn and they may apply to have the arrest expunged from their record.
Defendants with no recent history of violence in their background who have had reoccurring contacts with the criminal justice system, are also eligible for this diversion opportunity as part of the second tier of AMP. In AMP Tier 2, defendants work to address the underlying issue that caused them to come into contact with the criminal justice system. The majority of these cases involve substance abuse and in lieu of a potential jail sentence or probation, defendants agree to engage in a program to address their addictions. Many of these cases also resolve without a conviction and with an opportunity to expunge the arrest from the defendant’s record.