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Diversion programs are being implemented by law enforcement

Diversion programs are being implemented by law enforcement

Diversion programs are being implemented by law enforcement
February 28
15:22 2019

IN DENVER, ALAMOSA, LONGMONT AND PUEBLO

Newsroom/El Comercio de Colorado

Four cities in Colorado, including Denver, joined a program that instead of arresting individuals for non-violent misdemeanors, offers options of diversion and mental health. The program ​Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) is a community-based diversion approach with the goals of improving public safety and public order and reducing unnecessary justice system involvement of people who participate in the program.

By participating in LEAD, these individuals will not be fined or arrested for their actions. According to Beth McCann, Denver District Attorney, this is a way to reduce crime and social problems. McCann said from now own it will be possible to prevent long jail times for theft charges with no violence, or for not being able to post bail.

Cases in Colorado

A case that illustrates the facts happened in El Paso County. In that county, located about 80 miles south of Denver, 184 people accused of misdemeanors remained jailed for several weeks in 2016 and 2017. These individuals served their time because they couldn’t pay the $55 administrative fee to be freed.

This program was also activated in Alamosa, Longmont and Pueblo and it will be funded through subsidies from the taxes on recreational marijuana. McCann explained that many people with addictions and mental health issues end up in jail, overwhelming a system that doesn’t respond to addictions and mental health needs.

Its origin and expansion

The District Attorney added that she supports this program and any other program that prevents jailing certain individuals, and for them to receive the help they need to stay out of the criminal justice system. This program started in Seattle, Washington, in 2011, to offer food, shelter, work training and treatment to those who commit misdemeanor crimes related to drugs or prostitution.

In 2016, the program was formally accepted by the Seattle District Attorney and shortly after, it expanded to Santa Fe, New Mexico and Albany, NY. Since then, in Seattle, 58 percent of those who participated in the LEAD program were less likely to relapse than those who didn’t participate in the program. In October 2018, about 18 cities and counties throughout the U.S. had implemented LEAD. Another 17 cities will subscribe to it in 2019.

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Edición Virtual | #338 | 9 de mayo 2019

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