Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $1,200,000)
The Snohomish County, WA Prosecuting Attorney’s Office (PAO) is seeking to expand the operational capacity of our existing Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) project. Depending on funding this expansion would at a minimum allow us to increase the number of individuals diverted to the program and possibly expand the geographic coverage of the program. Begun in November 2020, Snohomish County LEAD is a cross-sector collaborative effort involving the PAO, the Everett City Attorney, the Everett and Lynnwood, WA police departments, the County Executive, the Mayor’s of Everett and Lynnwood, and the Snohomish County Public Defenders Association. LEAD was designed and implemented in an attempt to reduce the number of individuals being jailed and prosecuted for low-level drug offenses or other law violations due to behavioral health. Based on experiences in other jurisdictions our expectation was that such a program would help address racial and other disparities in the criminal justice system, help build trust and improve the relationship between law enforcement and the community, and reduce recidivism among those diverted to the program. Our experience to date has borne this out and based on this, feedback from the community, and strong buy-in from our law enforcement partners (as evidenced by the fact that in less than a year we are over-capacity) we wish to expand our capacity and coverage areas. The Snohomish County LEAD program utilizes both pre and post-arrest diversions. Pre-arrest referrals are made by both police and prosecutors who identify individuals who they believe would benefit from a referral to community based services. Post-arrest diversions are made by officers who have grounds to arrest individuals who have committed LEAD eligible law violations and, again, who they feel would benefit from services rather than jail and possible prosecution. Since we are already operational and have an existing service provider the process and timeline for service expansion should be rapid.