Policy Studies Alternatives to Arrest

Conservative Jurisdictions Champion Diversion Efforts

Author

Lisel Petis
Resident Senior Fellow, Criminal Justice and Civil Liberties

Key Points

Pre-arrest diversion programs have been adopted by several conservative jurisdictions because they are found to support law enforcement, reduce recidivism and repeat callers and better utilize taxpayer dollars.

Pre-arrest diversion programs have demonstrably stopped the revolving door into the criminal justice system, saving the time and resources of law enforcement, courts, prosecutors and public defenders.

Pre-arrest diversion programs are not meant to supplant law enforcement, but to supplement them. Multiple funding sources exist to help launch these programs.

Executive Summary

Law enforcement agencies across the country, regardless of state or jurisdiction population size, are facing challenges on a daily basis, including exhaustion and frustration from dealing with “frequent flyers” and “repeat callers;” continued stress and pressure caused by agency staffing shortages and negative public sentiment; and increased rates of community mental health and substance abuse issues leading to potentially dangerous outcomes. In response, some conservative areas have found a way to better support their local law enforcement and the communities they serve through pre-arrest diversion programs. Pre-arrest diversion models—such as Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD), co-responder and community responder—have become some of the most successful trends in criminal justice. These programs already exist across the nation and have proven efficient and effective in diverting low-level offenders from the criminal justice system. By looking at the execution of LEAD in Laramie County, Wyo., Behavioral Health Connect (BHCON) in El Paso County, Colo. and Community Assistance and Life Liaison (CALL) in St. Petersburg, Fla., other jurisdictions can understand how pre-arrest diversion reduces calls for service, saves police officers’ time and decreases jail populations. Furthermore, these districts serve as an example that allows us to explore how to successfully implement a diversion program and navigate potential challenges.

Featured Publications