New Haven LEAD Timeline 

10/25/16: Sex Work Stings

New Haven police department’s Narcotics and Criminal Intelligence units arrest 14 women in a sex work sting in the Dwight/West River and Fair Haven neighborhoods.

11/18/16: Protests Against Sex Work Stings

A group of 25 stages a protest outside City Hall in opposition to the October 25th sex work stings. Then-interim police chief Anthony Campbell agreed to stop arresting sex workers on prostitution charges after seeing the public response. SWAN is formed out of this response.



04/03/17: City Signs MOU

The City signs an MOU with the police department, Cornell Scott, the Community Foundation of New Haven, and community partners (including SWAN) as part of its grant application to the Federal Government to fund a LEAD program in New Haven. The MOU states that if the City is awarded the grant, “all signatories will join with stakeholders in a staffed planning process” to design the LEAD program. SWAN is never invited to such a planning meeting.

05/01/17: CT Awards Grant to Cornell Scott

CT Department of Mental Health and Hygiene awards $200,000 to Cornell Scott for arrest diversion services over two years.

05/09/17: City Pitches LEAD to Hill North


Keith Brown, director of health and harm reduction at the Katal Center for Health, Equity and Justice, gives a LEAD presentation to Hill North’s Community Management Team’s (CMT) monthly meeting. Brown describes the Albany LEAD program and how LEAD might work in New Haven. A similar presentation is planned to be held at Hill South’s CMT meeting the next week and a “participatory conversation” is announced to be held the next month for community members to give their input.









09/22/17: Federal Government Awards Grant to New Haven

The Department of Justice awards the City $75,000  for the development of a LEAD program.

11/29/17: LEAD Pilot Program Launches

LEAD pilot program launches in the Downtown, Hill North, and Hill South neighborhoods. At the time of launch, the program’s only decision-making and governing structure is an Operational Work Group (no Policy Coordinating Group or Community Leadership Team exist).

12/15/17: Roundtable on Pre-Booking Diversion Programs

Roundtable discussion held at Yale Law School to bring together sex work advocates and city officials involved in LEAD and discuss GHJP’s work on prostitution diversion. SWAN and other community organizations call on the City for more transparency related to the LEAD program and mechanisms for community engagement. These calls are not heeded.

06/15/18: Meeting with Dr. Muley

Members of SWAN, the CT Bail Fund, GHJP, and other community groups impacted by LEAD request to meet with two-thirds of the Operational Work Group to discuss lack of community involvement in LEAD management bodies and lack of information sharing with the public. Only two members of the work group (Dakibu Muley and Ayishea Denson) attend the meeting. After the meeting, SWAN members request to receive a copy of the LEAD Operational Protocol and request to have a meeting with the new LEAD Project Manager (who is in the process of being hired) within two weeks of their hiring. The City does not respond to either request.

09/2018: New LEAD Project Director Hired

Cynthia Watson is hired as the new LEAD Project Manager. Members of SWAN and GHJP are not contacted to have a meeting with Watson, despite their June request.

09/10/18: Watson Contacts Community Groups Regarding Community Leadership Team

Watson contacts various community groups inviting them to a meeting “to discuss the Community Leadership Team for the LEAD program.”



















04/30/19: CT Grant for LEAD Pilot Set to Expire

CT Department of Mental Health and Hygiene grant to Cornell Scott for arrest diversion services is set to expire. This is part of the funding used toward the LEAD pilot.

04/2019: LEAD Reform Letter Sent To New Haven LEAD Management 

A letter presenting concerns and reform to the New Haven LEAD program was signed 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. 

06/06/2019: A Conversation with Dr. Paul Joudrey (Joudrey Report)

The Community Leadership Team hosted a meeting featuring Dr. Paul Joudry's preliminary research findings observing the LEAD program. This report consisted of two parts: an analysis of New Haven Police Department (NHPD) arrest data among LEAD trained officers during the first eight months of the LEAD Pilot (October 2017-July 2018) and interviews with LEAD trained NHPD officers. The key findings from the report included: 1) Few eligible arrest events resulted in diversion into the New Haven LEAD program; 2) Arresting officers perceive arrest as less time consuming than diversion; 3) Among individuals declining arrest diversion, it is unclear what is the advantage of diversion into LEAD relative to the New Haven programs; 4) Individuals declining arrest diversion prefer traditional misdemeanor processing through the court rather than arrest diversion; 5) Not all individuals are ready to change behavior at the time of an eligible arrest event. GHJP would like to note that no interviews with LEAD participants or community members were included in this analysis. The final report from Dr. Joudrey was released in January 2020 (see below).

07/2019: LEAD National Support Bureau Assessment of New Haven LEAD

Representatives from the LEAD National Support Bureau visited New Haven to assess New Haven LEAD program and provide feedback and support.


12/2019: LEAD Reform Letter 2 Sent To New Haven LEAD Management 

A follow-up to the April 2019 LEAD Reform letter highlighting continued concerns with New Haven LEAD’s failure to ensure fidelity with the principles and goals articulated by National LEAD was released 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. 

01/2020: Final Report on the Formative Evaluation of New Haven’s LEAD Pilot Program Conducted by Dr. Paul Joudrey Released

The key findings from the final report on the formative evaluation of the implementation of the LEAD Pilot Program in New Haven included: 1) Few eligible arrest events resulted in diversion into the New Haven LEAD program; 2) Enrollment into LEAD was primarily occurring through social contact referrals rather than via arrest diversion, 3) on the NHPD side, barriers to successful LEAD implementation included insufficient training, high attrition, stigma towards people with substance use disorders, discordant attitudes among implementing officers about the appropriate role of law enforcement in responding to substance use issues (including beliefs that criminal penalties are a necessary response), and a lack of communication with service providers 4) Many LEAD-eligible individuals declining arrest diversion had previous contact with the social service programs being offered and expressed skepticism towards potential benefits of referral through LEAD to services they had already tried. Given the many barriers to successful implementation of LEAD, the evaluation also recommended the City of New Haven rethink the program altogether and consider community-based alternatives to the LEAD model that would operate independently of the police. 

01/28/2020: “Pilot Effort Fails. Who’s To Blame?” (New Haven Independent article)

Various stakeholders including representatives of SWAN and GHJP; Police Chief Otoniel Reyes; and the city’s Community Services Administrator, Dr. Mehul Dalal, discuss the findings of Dr. Joudrey's report and the future of the LEAD program in New Haven.

9/26/18: LEAD Teach-In

Thomas Breen Photo

Thomas Breen Photo

Sara Tabin Photo

Thomas Breen Photo 

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