March 30, 2020  Last Update: November 12, 2019, 4:01 pm

Seattle Beat Cops L.E.A.D. some prisoners to Treatment

Seattle police are working with The Defender Association to lower incarceration rates and truly understand and treat addicts involved in low-level crimes. The two entities have created the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD), a four-year pilot program that offers hand-picked participants alternatives to arrest and jail time. These alternatives depend on individual needs, but range from inpatient drug treatment and educational opportunities to housing assistance and micro-loans for would-be business owners.

To repeat that — cops are now considering treatment options for low-level offenders, instead of jail time.

Some Seattle cops can choose treatment instead of jail for some arrests

The program is the first of its kind in the nation, but is learning from a similar model in the UK. For Seattle, the program starts in Belltown, and will eventually move into Skyway (south of King County) as well.

The collaborating group includes everyone: top officials from Seattle police, the King County Sheriff’s Office, the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, Seattle’s City Attorney’s Office, the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, city and county government, and local neighborhood and business associations. There’s likely a treatment specialist or two involved as well, through one or more of those agencies. It seems everyone is interested in improving the drug dealing/crime issue, without the expense of lock-up.

For now the program will only be available certain days, since it is a pilot. On the off days, those arrested will be tracked through the system and, ultimately, compared to those who do participate in the program.

According to the Seattle mayor, the Seattle neighborhood of Belltown might be called repeat offender town. He says just 54 individuals are responsible for 2,700 arrests in Belltown.  Obviously the arrest and incarcerate approach isn’t working very well.

“One goal of drug prosecution is to offer addicted people a chance for treatment. LEAD can achieve that goal through bypassing the jail and courthouse and bringing an arrested offender immediately to treatment. I have high hopes that this new option will increase public safety and change lives for those caught in the downward spiral of drug addiction,” said King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg.



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