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Did Seattle discover the law enforcement program of the future?

What would you think about a system that would help people who were accused of drug crimes? Instead of the usual criminal justice system run-around, where they are thrown in jail or given critical penalties that prevent them from moving past the charges against them, they are instead given resources to help them improve themselves and avoid these sinister consequences that often lead people back into the criminal acts that got them into trouble in the first place.

Doesn't that sound like a great proposition? Doesn't that sound like something that wouldn't only benefit the individual in question, but also society in general?

Well, this program isn't some idea for a movie that is set in the future. To the contrary, this program, called Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD), is currently  in effect in the city of Seattle, and it's been so wildly successful that other major cities are inquiring about how to launch LEADs of their own.

What LEAD does is, with the help and partnership of the police, take low-level drug offenders and those accused of prostitution and gives them a case manager. Instead of going through the traditional criminal process -- with the potential for jail and other consequences -- they are given resources to reform their lives. The program has seen recidivism reduction rates as high as 60 percent.

Clearly, this program is on to something. More research and study will be necessary of course, but it appears, at least initially, that this more humane and practical approach to dealing with people who have committed an offense is far more effective than just tossing the traditional penalties at them.

Source: Drug Policy Alliance, "Report: Seattle's New Approach to Low-Level Drug Offenses Produces Nearly 60% Reduction in Recidivism," April 8, 2015

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