Diversion from Arrest
While diversion at sentencing for low level offenses has long been utilized in many communities, diversion at the point of arrest is now being utilized more frequently. Diversion from arrest saves time for law enforcement officers who might otherwise be tied up at the jail and in court on low level offenses. It also has the potential to offer immediate opportunities for treatment when needed.
Some offenses are more frequently being handled either through diversion to treatment or making the arrest for certain low level offenses – such as possession of a small amount of marijuana – a low priority.
LEAD PROGRAMS – Many of these programs operate with the assistance of law enforcement and are referred to as LEAD programs, or Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion programs. The program allows police and sheriffs to redirect low-level offenders engaged in drug or sex work activity to community-based programs and services, instead of jail and prosecution. A LEAD program is currently operating in Fayetteville. Wilmington, Waynesville and Statesville have setup LEAD committees. Learn more about the LEAD program.
Durham has established a Misdemeanor Diversion Program and is in the process of adopting a general order that places arrest for small amounts of marijuana as a low priority.
ANGEL PROGRAMS – Angel Programs are another form of police supported diversion. These programs allow any person with an addiction who wants treatment to come directly to the Police Department and receive a referral to treatment without being arrested. Learn more about the ANGEL program in Jeffersontown, Kentucky.
NEED FOR TREATMENT – Diversion at arrest has heightened awareness within the law enforcement community about the need for both substance abuse and mental health treatment options. When there are no treatment slots available, it is impossible to divert a person to treatment who needs it. The rapid increase in opioid addiction has increased public support for treatment, but adequate funding has not yet followed.