FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jessica Morkert-Shibley, 971-563-3735
Multnomah County public safety partners are expanding a pilot project that provides people struggling with serious chronic drug addiction a chance to access social services and treatment, rather than continuing to cycle through the criminal justice system.
The Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion or LEAD® is a county-funded, pre-booking jail diversion program that allows police to divert someone facing low-level drug offenses to case managers and away from jail or prosecution. The pilot, now entering its second year, will expand from its current operation area in downtown Portland, Old Town/Chinatown and the Lloyd District. The boundaries for the expanded area will move east across the Willamette out to SE/NE 12th, north to Interstate 84 and south to SE Powell.
LEAD® is a coordinated effort between law enforcement agencies, service providers, community organizations and elected leaders to reduce crime and reduce the harm someone struggling with addiction causes him or herself and the surrounding community.
The County has contracted with local nonprofit Central City Concern to provide case management and services. Participants can choose to connect with a caseworker and advance toward self-identified goals including treatment, employment, mental and physical health needs, and more.
Since the program’s launch last February:
- 99 people have enrolled in LEAD® as of May 10, 2018
- 76 remain active in the program
- 1,005 documented needs were met
"The expansion of the LEAD® program into southeast Portland is critically important to our community,” said Multnomah County District Attorney Rod Underhill. “It shows our commitment to embracing a harm reduction model for people who are struggling with addiction or mental health. As the program's boundaries expand, we will be training our law enforcement partners to recognize even more qualified participants. Those individuals will work closely with their caseworkers from Central City Concern to get them the help and services they need. We must recognize the work that has gotten us to this point. The Multnomah County Board of Commissioners, including Chair Deborah Kafoury, have made funding the LEAD® program a top priority. With that vision, we are starting to move away from the punitive and sanction-based model of prosecution and are continuing focus on the individual.”
As the program progresses, the County is committed to a rigorous evaluation of its impact and effectiveness and will evaluate whether LEAD® has resulted in reductions in drug use and recidivism, and is more cost-effective than traditional criminal justice responses to addiction.
“We’re encouraged by the progress people are making in the LEAD® program, getting connected to addiction, mental health, peer, or housing services,” said Chair Deborah Kafoury. “We need strategies that keep the public safe and hold people accountable, but also gives them an opportunity to recover and change for the better. Programs like LEAD® demonstrate our commitment to expanding those opportunities.”