Within the pre-arrest diversion pilot low-level drug and prostitution offenders – of whom 80%-86% are homeless – are referred to the project’s case-workers by police.

25 Mar 2015

The concept of pre-arrest diversion – especially the part where police officers work closely with caseworkers and have a stake in the recovery, not just the capture and punishment of offenders – is new and unusual, but is making waves in criminal justice circles across the US.

It is still a pilot program, but several cities, including Houston, Atlanta, Chicago, Baltimore and Santa Fe, are all now actively exploring exporting similar programs, and a team from New York mayor Bill de Blasio’s office visited Seattle on a fact-finding mission in January.

One of the key figures in the Lead program’s success is Lisa Daugaard. A public defender by trade, and deputy director of the Seattle Public Defender Association, she makes no secret of the belligerence which often exists between defenders like herself and prosecutors and law enforcement.

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