News from the Research Commons

May 25, 2018

3MT Finalist Spotlight: Benjamin Beach

Diversion Programs in the Juvenile Justice System

School of Social Work, Master of Social Work (MSW)

Ben Beach began his career as a public servant at age fourteen. As the brother of a teen who had been arrested and detained, Ben was inspired to serve as an advocate for other teenagers who had been arrested. This experience both inspired Ben’s professional interests and raised academic questions. After acquiring experience in the legal and social services fields, Ben returns to the questions that began his career fourteen years ago: How do juvenile diversion programs work and how are they legally authorized? How can juvenile offenders circumvent court and how do different jurisdictions operate these programs? Ben has spent fourteen years preparing to answer these questions. Ben graduated from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, where he completed an interdisciplinary concentration on judicial administration and thesis research on a juvenile detention scandal. Ben has worked for criminal defense attorneys and the Northwest Justice Project. Ben is now the King County Coordinator at the Northwest Justice Project and an intern on the Family Intervention & Restorative Services team for juvenile court in King County. Ben founded an interdisciplinary Registered Student Organization, Poverty Law & Social Services, as a graduate student at the University of Washington School of Social Work.

Through his thesis titled “Understanding the Implementation of Diversionary Juvenile Justice Programs: An Examination of Organizational and Political Processes,” Ben was able to dive deep into the institution of the juvenile justice system and conducted extensive research into diversion programs. Diversion, he defines, occurs when folks hold youth accountable for the crimes that they commit without actually charging them for those crimes. Ultimately, Ben’s research showed that “juvenile diversion programs are often outright unlawful or hardly lawful, completely unstructured or loosely structured, or cause community controversy due to the actions of program directors.”

Ben’s research draws on the disciplines of¬†Social Work, Law, and Organizational Psychology.

Congratulations to Ben, who was one of the 3MT Competition 2018 finalists!