Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion Programs
Who is eligible for diversion into LEAD?
Individuals who are arrested for eligible offenses within specified boundaries for Belltown or Skyway may be diverted into LEAD. Eligible offenses include low-level drug offenses, and engaging in prostitution. Individuals who have certain violent offenses in their criminal history are ineligible for diversion.
How will we know if LEAD works?
After two years of operations, the program will be evaluated rigorously. The evaluation will consider, among other factors, 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.
Who runs LEAD?
LEAD is the result of a unique collaboration between law enforcement agencies, public officials, and community groups, who share a mutual dissatisfaction with the outcomes and costs of traditional drug law enforcement. These original collaborators now sit on LEAD's Policy Coordinating Group, which governs the program. The Policy Coordinating Group makes decisions by consensus via memorandum of understanding. It is entirely voluntary, and any stakeholder may choose to withdraw from LEAD at any time. The Policy Coordinating Group members include:
Who will provide services to LEAD participants?
- Seattle Office of the Mayor
- King County Executive Office
- Seattle City Council
- King County Council
- Seattle City Attorney's Office
- King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office
- Seattle Police Department
- King County Sheriff's Office
- Washington State Department of Corrections
- Belltown LEAD Community Advisory Board
- Skyway LEAD Community Advisory Board
- The Defender Association, Racial Disparity Project
- ACLU of Washington, Drug Policy Project
LEAD stakeholders have contracted with Evergreen Treatment Services (ETS) to provide services to LEAD participants, according to harm reduction principles. ETS has provided addiction treatment services in Washington for over 30 years, and has been actively involved in federally-funded research projects. ETS's REACH Program has been a key provider in the delivery of street outreach services to chronically homeless and chemically addicted adults in Seattle for 15 years.
Do community members support LEAD?
LEAD is strongly supported by community members. LEAD will be piloted first in Belltown and then in Skyway. Members of both communities have participated in the program's design, and will continue to provide feedback about the program.
How is LEAD funded?
LEAD formally began on October 1, 2011. LEAD is funded by private foundations for two years, with the expectation of continued foundation funding for an additional two years while the evaluation is conducted and analyzed. LEAD's funders include the Ford Foundation, Open Society Foundations, Vital Projects Fund, RiverStyx Foundation, Massena Foundation, and the Social Justice Fund Northwest. If LEAD is found to be effective, an ongoing source of funding will be sought.
When participants are first diverted to LEAD, they begin working immediately with case managers to access services. The case manager will identify any urgent needs and will attempt to meet those needs by providing immediate access to any of the following service:
- Hygiene services
- Medical referrals
- A place to stay for the night
After the initial diversion, the case manager will work together with the participant to identify the factors that led that individual to being arrested for a drug or prostitution offense. The case manager will develop an Individual Intervention Plan (IIP) designed to meet that participant's specific needs. The IIP may include providing linkages or access to any of the following services:
- Substance abuse treatment
- Mental health counseling
- Health Care
- Obtaining ID
- Vocational training
- Legal Services
In order to sustain behavioral change that may be accomplished through LEAD participation, each LEAD participant who receives funding or services in some way will be required to participate in regular peer mentoring sessions. Experienced participants will assist in leading those sessions after receiving training. The role of peer mentoring is to create a support system for behavioral change that can continue after the individual no longer needs other direct services, and to create a pool of peers who can credibly engage others involved in problematic drug activity and report positively about LEAD.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
Operations to Date
Since LEAD launched on October 1, 2011, more than 30 individuals have been referred to the program. During LEAD's first several months of operation, participants have gained access to a variety of services, including: methadone, in-patient and out-patient chemical dependency treatment, mental health and medical referrals, legal services, temporary housing, Section 8 housing vouchers, public transportation vouchers, state and federal benefits, and educational funding.
LEAD's current needs include finding long-term housing placements and employment opportunities for LEAD participants who typically have criminal history, a lack of recent rental history, and a lack of recent work history. If you are a housing provider or employer willing to provide a LEAD participant with a much-needed and potentially life-altering opportunity, please contact us at 206.447.3900 x530.