***This watch site is maintained by the Global Health Justice Partnership at Yale University in collaboration with the Sex Workers and Allies Network as a public tool to monitor the history, funding, and operations of the LEAD program in New Haven and keep it accountable to its intended purpose to divert low-level criminal offenders from arrest to case management and social services.


What is the New Haven LEAD (Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion) Program?


In November 2017, the City of New Haven launched a  pilot version of a pre-booking diversion program known as  Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD). The LEAD model, originating in Seattle, aims to reduce criminal legal system involvement for individuals who commit - or are at risk of committing - certain low-level offenses. LEAD may be offered case management and social services instead of being arrested. The overall goal is harm reduction for the participant, their families and the community.

What is the LEAD National Support Bureau


The LEAD National Support Bureau is a project of the Public Defender Association (PDA), based in Seattle, WA. PDA acknowledges its partnership with the Katal Center for Health, Equity, and Justice in the launch of the Bureau in 2016.


The LEAD national support bureau developed the core elements of a functional and effective LEAD program, and provides support to police departments that are looking to implement LEAD programs in their jurisdictions or assess the effectiveness of existing programs. 

The Bureau draws on the expertise of prosecutors, police, case managers and community public safety leaders who are now using LEAD on the ground, and are willing to share lessons learned with their peers around the country. They describe Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) programs as "community-based diversion approach with the goals of improving public safety and public order, and reducing unnecessary justice system involvement of people who participate in the program."

GHJP and SWAN's Approach to Assessing LEAD's Functionality

Our approach to assessing the fidelity and appropriateness of fit of New Haven’s LEAD program model have been the guided by the following questions:

  1. Does this program do what it is supposed to do according to the LEAD national support bureau's guidelines?

  2. What social services are people meaningfully being connected to? Are these services adequate?

  3. What is New Haven’s capacity for implementing this program?

Through our extensive inquiry to address these questions, we do not believe the LEAD program is functioning well in New Haven. The City of New Haven is not implementing LEAD with fidelity to what it was originally stated to do (harm reduction, etc.), and New Haven's social services are not adequate to address the needs of those who are enrolled in the LEAD program either through social referral or arrest deferral. 


Summary of Key Concerns About the New Haven LEAD Program

  1. People are not actually being diverted from arrest. Few participants have been referred to LEAD instead of arrest. The vast majority entered through “social contact” referrals by the police. Rather than diversion from criminal justice, New Haven is increasing police contact with citizens by giving them the additional job of being street outreach social workers.

  2. No services are provided through LEAD other than access to New Haven’s already inadequate resources. No more units of housing have been created, no more shelter beds or drug treatment beds. Participants access the same resources, but in a program where they are tracked by the police and prosecutors.

  3. The City agreed to involve the community in the program's design and management. To date, the City has failed to meaningfully involve potential LEAD participants in planning and has been unable to demonstrate that LEAD is reducing harms associated with engagement with the criminal justice system. This website aims to makes information about the history, funding, and operations of the program publicly accessible.

At present the online New Haven LEAD dashboard is hosted here: https://veoci.com/veoci/p/dashboard/h2567kvepg 

This dashboard reports only active LEAD cases and does not reflect cumulative numbers of people who have ever been in NHV LEAD. It serves as a location where LEAD Policy and Operational Working Groups are stored, and provides information about active LEAD cases broken down demographically. This site can also be accessed by clicking on the "NHV LEAD Dashboard" button at the top of this site. 



Do you have questions or opinions about the LEAD program? Have you been offered the LEAD program yourself? Do you want to stay updated about our research or are interested in getting involved? Please reach out to us at the email address: health.justice@yale.edu

©2018 by LEAD Watch Site.

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