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Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) to address low-level drug and prostitution crimes in Belltown

Help has arrived to address low-level drug and prostitution crimes in Belltown.

Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) is a new program built on many of the same principles as a pilot program developed with the community under my leadership in 2006 to divert low-level drug and prostitution offenders from arrest.  Police officers and the Department of Corrections help outreach workers identify specific individuals likely to benefit from services to stabilize their lives and keep them out of jail.  The goal in doing so is to reduce recidivism and improve public safety as well as neighborhood quality of life.

An important principle LEAD has in common with the earlier program iteration is:

Unlike Drug Court or other diversion-programs, that require an arrest and costly involvement in the criminal justice system, pre-booking diversion doesn’t require an arrest. Some people are ready to change when they understand that in exchange for their commitment to the program, rather than face a long waiting list for treatment and services, LEAD has many of the resources necessary to immediately begin to pay for treatment, housing, and/or other services.

What’s new is:

1)      A broader segment of the law enforcement community – namely the City Attorney and the King County Prosecutor – is invested in LEAD.  Along with the Seattle Police Department and other community stakeholders, they comprise the LEAD Policy Coordinating Group. 

2)      LEAD is not using any public funding.  Among other private funders, LEAD’s funders include the Ford Foundation, Open Society Foundation, and the Social Justice Fund Northwest.

3)      The LEAD Policy Coordinating Group is designing an evaluation tool on the front end of the program.  The evaluation will include a control group needed for evaluation that was lacking in the earlier iteration of the program and will seek to determine whether “LEAD has resulted in reductions in drug use and recidivism, whether LEAD is more cost-effective than traditional criminal justice processing, and whether LEAD has had a positive impact on a community’s quality of life.”

To learn more about LEAD see here. 

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