Individuals – Collins et al. (2017)
Collins, S. E., Lonczak, H. S., & Clifasefi, S. L. (2019). Seattle’s law enforcement assisted diversion (LEAD): Program effects on criminal justice and legal system utilization and costs. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 15(2), 201-211.
Clifasefi, S. L., Lonczak, H. S., & Collins, S. E. (2017). Seattle’s Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program: Within-subjects changes on housing, employment, and income/benefits outcomes and associations with recidivism. Crime & Delinquency, 63(4), 429-445.
Location in the Matrix; Methodological Rigor; Outcome:
Individuals; Focused; Reactive; Rigorous; Effective
What police practice or strategy was examined?
Seattle’s “Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion” program diverted offenders suspected of low-level drug and prostitution activity to social and health services instead of processing them through the traditional criminal justice system. Individuals arrested during the intervention were diverted by police officers to the LEAD program at the point of arrest if they were eligible (see article for further details on eligibility). Individuals eligible for LEAD were referred to a case manager who would connect the participant to appropriate services (legal services, job training/placement, housing assistance, counseling, health services, etc.).
How was the intervention evaluated?
For nearly three years, police officers were randomized to either “LEAD” or control shifts, during which eligible individuals were allocated to either the LEAD or control condition if they were arrested during those shifts. The control condition individuals were arrested and received the “system as usual” criminal justice system process. The evaluation tracked LEAD effects on recidivism over the short and long term (six months post-treatment and two years post-treatment). LEAD and control subjects were matched on characteristics via propensity scores for the comparisons.
What were the key findings?
LEAD participants had 60 percent lower odds of having at least one arrest after LEAD program entry in the six months following treatment. In the longer term, LEAD participants had 57 percent lower odds of being arrested at least once after treatment in the two years following program entry. Compared to control participants, LEAD participants had 39 percent lower odds of being charged with a felony after LEAD program entry.
What were the implications for law enforcement?
Collaborating with social services to connect low-level drug and prostitution offenders to appropriate resources showed positive results in terms of subsequent arrests and felony charges as compared to the traditional criminal justice arrest procedures. Police collaboration with social services can be valuable in reducing recidivism for drug offenses.
Where can I find more information about this intervention, similar types of intervention, or related studies?