Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $900,000)
Statistics from a 2021 data report on “Accidental Drug Overdose deaths in Los Angeles County During the COVID 19 Pandemic” showed there has been a 48% increase in accidental drug overdose deaths during the first five months of the pandemic compared to the same time period in 2019, with the highest accidental drug overdose death rate per 100,000 population being associated with methamphetamine and fentanyl. This same report also suggests that findings generally demonstrated that Long Beach was one of three communities with higher densities of drug overdose deaths and increased numbers during the pandemic period compared to the same period in 2019. Through the support of the BJA FY 21 Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant, and Substance Abuse Site-based Program grant, the Long Beach City Prosecutor’s Office will implement the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program in alignment with the DOJ priority: To develop, implement, or expand comprehensive efforts to identify, respond to, treat, and support those impacted by illicit opioids, stimulants, and other drugs of abuse. Follow up data from the 2017-2019 LAC LEAD program (of which the Long Beach Prosecutor’s Office was a participant) shows that since joining the pilot LEAD, more than two thirds of the clients (71.1%) who took the follow up survey reported they were using less (64.4%) or had stopped using drugs (6.7%). The data also shows that for those individuals that did not have access to the program: Misdemeanor arrests were about one and a half times higher (153%), Felony arrests were over five times higher (537%), and Felony cases were almost five times higher (487%). While creating a framework for Prosecutor lead diversion programs that could be replicated nationally, the Long Beach Prosecutor’s Office will expand the LEAD program throughout the entire Long Beach community with a focus on High Poverty Area zip codes. Strategic partnerships with the Long Beach Police Department, community based substance abuse programs, community members and the Long Beach Prosecutor’s Office will ensure access to a network of service providers and create a platform for consistent case management from the moment an individual is found in need of diversion and substance abuse support. Program objectives will include: Increasing the capacity of Long Beach Law Enforcement and non law enforcement city officials in an effort to reduce the number of individuals with low-level drug convictions from reentrying the criminal justice system. Offering individuals at risk of offending/reoffending a connection to case management services intended to redirect participants to substance abuse, mental health and housing support. Fostering a public dialogue ( locally and statewide) about Prosecutor-led diversion efforts (specific to LEAD).