Have you ever wondered why we treat many of our low-level criminal offenders so terribly? Many of the people who accused of these relatively minor offenses are often hit with some truly harsh penalties that make their lives very difficult. In fact, in some cases, the legal consequences associated with their low-level crime — and the criminal history that follows them around wherever they go — ruins their future for a long time, if not forever.
This can lead to an endless cycle of recidivism, where the person accused of the crime can’t get a job or a decent place to live, which leads them to committing crimes to get by, which lands them in jail, which makes it harder for them to get a job or find housing, and so on and so forth. The wheel just keeps spinning, and it benefits no one.
Well, this wheel may have finally been broken by a new program in Seattle. — and maybe, someday, we’ll see this program here in Raleigh.
The program is called Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD), and it is predicated on the agreement that police officers in the area and the program have to take low-level drug and prostitution offenders and give them a case worker via LEAD (instead of just throwing them jail and into the criminal justice system).
This case worker, and the program, offer the individual a variety of services and outlets to allow them to change their ways. As a result, LEAD has seen some astonishing recidivism rates that could point to the future of crime prevention.
Source: Drug Policy Alliance, “Report: Seattle’s New Approach to Low-Level Drug Offenses Produces Nearly 60% Reduction in Recidivism,” April 8, 2015