The LEAD program was established in 2011 as a means of diverting those suspected of low-level drug and prostitution criminal activity to case management and other supportive services instead of jail and prosecution. The primary aim of the LEAD program is to reduce criminal recidivism. Secondary aims include reductions in criminal justice service utilization and associated costs as well as improvements for psychosocial, housing and quality-of-life outcomes. Because LEAD is the first known pre-booking diversion program of its kind in the United States, an evaluation is critically needed to inform key stakeholders, policy makers, and other interested parties of its impact. The evaluation of the LEAD program described in this report represents a response to this need.
Background: This report was written by the University of Washington LEAD Evaluation Team at the request of the LEAD Policy Coordinating Group and fulfills the first of three LEAD evaluation aims.
Purpose: This report describes findings from a quantitative analysis comparing outcomes for LEAD participants versus "system-as-usual" control participants on shorter- and longer-term changes on recidivism outcomes, including arrests (i.e., being taken into custody by legal authority) and criminal charges (i.e., filing of a criminal case in court). Arrests and criminal charges were chosen as the recidivism outcomes because they likely reflect individual behavior more than convictions, which are more heavily impacted by criminal justice system variables external to the individual.
Findings: Analyses indicated statistically significant recidivism improvement for the LEAD group compared to the control group on some shorter- and longer-term outcomes.