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Friendship was developed in the late l960ís by a group of concerned citizens in Thurston County.   Their concerns revolved around young persons getting caught up in property crimes and not having any means by which they could avoid a criminal conviction.   Their further concerns were for victims who might not receive any financial reimbursement for any loss sustained as a result of the criminal activity.

 Several meetings were held with Patrick Sutherland, the Thurston County Prosecutor, and members of his staff.   A decision was made to develop criteria for deputy prosecutors and defense counsel to use in allowing some defendants the opportunity for a pre-charge diversion.  In other words no criminal charges would be filed if the defendant completed restitution, community service and paid a fee to Friendship.

 When sentencing reform was enacted this process was modified and today the criminal charges are filed against the defendant.  However, on successful completion of the diversion the deputy prosecutor moves to have the charges dismissed, except in some cases where the charges are reduced (District Court).

 In the mid 1990ís Mason County joined in the use of diversion both in Superior and in District Court. .  In 2003 we opened offices in Yakima, Spokane and Kitsap Counties for Superior Court cases and, in 2004, Kitsap and Spokane began making use of diversion for District Court defendants.  In 2006 Clallam and Jefferson Counties signed contracts for diversion services and are using diversion for both Superior and District Court.   Thurston County added District Court in 2006 as well.

In addition to diversion we are also providing day reporting supervision, electronic home monitoring and alcohol detection, as well as supervising community service for defendants who have had their jail time converted to community service.

 The basic structure of diversion continues today with defendants being held responsible for their actions through financial reimbursement to the victim, the completion of assigned community service hours, paying the fee to Friendship reducing the cost to the taxpayers and accepting responsibility for their crime.   Defendants often are assisted with employment, training, education and referral to community resources in the belief this will assist them in the future to avoid further negative contact with the criminal justice system.


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