Mass incarceration has affected the whole country--several states are recognizing that we are not able to afford to fund the criminal justice system, not with our taxpayer dollars. As society are thinking of alternatives, King County have been working with several methods to decrease the amount of those incarcerated.
One of the most innovative programs is the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD), a pre-booking diversion program focused on improving public safety and public order. The program addresses low level drug and prostitution in Belltown and Skyway. Instead of being in the criminal justice system, LEAD divert low level drug and prostitution offenders to community-based treatment and support services--including healthcare, job training, housing, treatment and mental health support. As a harm-reduction program, clients in these programs are still able to use while utilizing their services.
A two hour documentary, Frontline, documented the program and clients. With the documentary, we are able to see how LEAD focuses on developing good relationships between case managers and clients, that clients are not turned away because they are using. These clients range from age and gender, but are those who need it the most. Police officers are able to use their discretion between those who are perpetrators and those who are in need of services. We see the raw emotions of the clients as they live through the struggles of drug addiction and their connection with the program.
Currently, there has been a 60% decrease in interactions with the criminal justice system. As we approach these issues with the criminal justice system, thinking of ways how we can be inclusive while decreasing stigmatizing is something to think about.