The Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office announced Monday it has received a $1.685 million grant to implement a program with the Lynnwood and Everett police departments to provide community health and social services — rather than jail time — to low-level offenders.
The Washington State Health Care Authority grant will fund the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion Program (LEAD). According to Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney Adam Cornell, LEAD is not a human services program, but a public safety program that uses human resources tools.
“Focusing on the underlying behavioral health challenges of those committing low level property and drug crimes and reducing unnecessary justice system involvement, we will make our community safer, and in the long run, will further economic and spiritual vitality for all of our citizens,” Cornell said.
The goal of LEAD, Cornell said, is to reduce criminal recidivism and improve community health and safety by coordinating with law enforcement to divert eligible and willing offenders away from the revolving door of jail and prosecution into case management and wrap-around supportive services.
“The Snohomish County LEAD program is a critical step towards providing better alternatives to incarceration to those in our community suffering from substance abuse and mental health problems,” said Lynnwood Mayor Nicola Smith. “The Snohomish County LEAD program is a critical step towards providing better alternatives to incarceration to those in our community suffering from substance abuse and mental health problems. We know that we cannot arrest our way out of these issues that have impacts on all aspects of our community’s quality of life. Having these alternatives available to those who are most vulnerable helps to create a better path towards wellbeing. Lynnwood is proud to participate in this effort.”
Lynnwood Police Chief Tom Davis said his department “is excited to participate in this unique program that allows officers to connect people struggling with addiction to social services instead of the penal system. These members of our community may very well be better served by an alternative to detention that has the potential to break their cycle of crime and addiction.”
Lisa Daugaard, LEAD co-founder and Director of the Public Defender Association, praised the effort to bring LEAD to Snohomish County. “We at the LEAD National Support Bureau work with jurisdictions around Washington and around the country that are exploring LEAD,” Daugaard said. “Rarely have we seen leadership so clear about the potential benefits of this approach, in reducing the burden on police and courts, reducing law violations, and improving individual and community health and safety. We’re honored to partner with the Snohomish County Prosecutor, Lynnwood Police Department, Everett Police Department, and the community leaders on their new LEAD effort. ”
Other partners collaborating in the LEAD Snohomish County effort include the Everett City Attorney’s Office, the Snohomish County Executive’s Office, the Snohomish County Public Defender Association, Cocoon House, Ideal Options, Civil Survival (an organization led by and representing individuals with past justice system involvement), the Lynnwood Police Advisory Committee and Community Health Center of Snohomish County. In addition, the effort is supported by the Snohomish Chapter of the NAACP and the Snohomish County Council.
“We and our partners are proud to bring LEAD to Snohomish County,” Cornell said.