Collin County District Attorney, Greg Willis has launched a visionary initiative in Collin County called a “Diversion Program.” The Diversion Program is a voluntary program for an offender charged with a criminal offense. Offenders who complete the program may avoid prosecution and potential conviction for their charge. The Diversion Program only accepts certain types of criminal offenses, and each referral must go through an assessment prior to being accepted into the program. Once accepted into the program, a contract will list the specific requirements and obligations for each offender.
Given our experience with ex-offenders, we think this is both a biblically compassionate and common-sense approach to justice that gives certain offenders a second chance before being permanently branded as a “criminal.”
District Attorney Greg Willis understands human nature and as such, he knows that the success of this program depends, in-large-part, on criminal offenders taking personal responsibility and experiencing moral transformation that will lead them to make better life choices. In response to this need, the District Attorney enlisted the help of BridgeBuilders and the local church.
DA Willis worked with BridgeBuilders to learn more about our success in achieving this kind of moral transformation through our Life Skills program. To help implement the program, Chase Oaks Church in Plano stepped in to offer leadership, facilities and volunteers to develop a local program with some features of our program’s approach. For months, our WORK team worked closely with Kenny Brown, Chase Oaks’ Poverty Alleviation Director (yes, they take poverty that seriously!), to refine and implement their program.
Working with the District Attorney and Chase Oaks Church has been an incredible opportunity for BridgeBuilders to share its 23 years of experience with church and civic leaders seeking to make a difference in their communities. BridgeBuilders’ president, S. Michael Craven, commenting on the program said, “I was so encouraged by both the conviction of District Attorney Greg Willis and the determination of Chase Oaks Church to serve those that most people want to ignore or dismiss. This is a beautiful partnership between the church, para-church ministry, and local government that honors God and can affect real change.”