Challenges and Critiques of New Haven LEAD
As of October 2019, assessments by GHJP finds LEAD New Haven faces the following challenges:
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. A Social Contact Referral is the process of referring an individual who has not committed an offense to an Engagement Specialist for services. Social Contact Referrals enable police officers to refer an individual who is at risk of criminal justice involvement and has problematic substance use, mental illness, poverty, or homelessness to services without having to wait for them to commit an offense.
Rather than diverting participants from criminal justice, New Haven is increasing police contact with citizens by giving police the additional job of being street outreach social workers as members of LEAD.
No services are provided through LEAD other than access to New Haven’s already inadequate resources. No more units of housing have been created, and no more shelter beds or drug treatment beds have been created. Participants enrolled in LEAD access the same resources, but are tracked by the police and prosecutors while they are participating in this program.
Our continued critiques of and recommendations for the
New Haven LEAD program include:
Global Health Justice Partnership and SWAN Responses
LEAD Reform Letter 2
In April of 2019, GHJP, with the input of community partners, submitted a "LEAD Reform Letter" presenting concerns and suggesting reforms to the New Haven LEAD program (see next section below). In December of 2019, SWAN, GHJP and allied community partners released a follow-up Letter, in light of the NHPD and Engagement Specialist (ES) protocols and LEAD Guidelines released in May 2019 and the draft recommendations issued by the National LEAD Support Bureau in October 2019. The follow-up Letter highlighted continued concerns with New Haven LEAD’s failure to ensure fidelity with the principles and goals articulated by National LEAD and, secondly, to create a program appropriate for the New Haven context and responsive to local community needs. The letter was endorsed by Sex Workers and Allies Network, Connecticut Bail Fund, Unidad Latina en Acción, Showing Up for Racial Justice, New Haven, Yale Global Health Justice Partnership.
LEAD Reform Letter
In April of 2019, GHJP, with the input of community partners, submitted this "LEAD Reform Letter" (attached below) to city leaders and groups associated with the New Haven LEAD program. This letter presents concerns and suggests reforms to the New Haven LEAD program, and was endorsed by Sex Workers and Allies Network (SWAN ), Connecticut Bail Fund, My Brother’s Keeper, Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), with support from the Global Health Justice Partnership at Yale.
Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) in New Haven: A Call for Community Action
This report, the "Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) in New Haven: A Call for Community Action" published by SWAN and GHJP in September 2018, lays out the history of this program in New Haven, its funding sources, and why it appears to be failing at its goals. The purpose of this report is to improve knowledge of LEAD amongst community members in order to develop a program that actually helps this City.
Additional Research on LEAD Criticisms
The Criminal History Exclusions in New Haven LEAD Are Excessive, Violate the LEAD Model, and Should be Eliminated
The attached letter, entitled "The Criminal History Exclusions in New Haven LEAD Are Excessive, Violate the LEAD Model, and Should be Eliminated," was prepared by the Global Health Justice Partnership, in coordination with the Sex Workers and Allies Network in New Haven on December 9, 2018.
The below document makes the following recommendation: based on a review of the policies of 3 other LEAD programs— Atlanta, Seattle, and Albany — New Haven is an outlier in the extent of its criminal history exclusions. New Haven should remove criminal history checks from its LEAD diversion process. Atlanta’s Pre-Arrest Diversion program does not have any exclusions based on criminal record, and examination of record is not part of their process: they exclude only those who have a pending charge for a violent offense. New Haven should adopt a similar policy.
SWAN and GHJP's Historical Critiques of New Haven LEAD include: