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Seattle's New Approach to Low-Level Drug Offenses Produces Nearly 60% Reduction in Recidivism

Posted by Steve Karimi | Apr 24, 2015 | 0 Comments

A report released by a University of Washington evaluation team this week concluded what we criminal defense attorneys have been saying all along- mass incarceration is not the answer. In 2011, Seattle launched a new program called the “ Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion” (LEAD), aimed at addressing low-level drug and prostitution crimes and break the cycle of addiction, joblessness and homelessness. Under this program, police officers are given the discretion to divert someone with a low-level drug crime to a case manager and network of social services instead of booking them to jail and initiating the standard criminal justice process. Those under police custody must agree to go through the LEAD program in lieu of the traditional criminal process.

The stakeholders involved in the LEAD program include police, district attorneys, mental health and drug treatment providers, housing providers and other service agencies, the business community, public defenders, elected officials, and community leaders. The program steamed from the growing consensus that America's ‘war on drugs' along with its associated racial disparities has been a failure. To follow its implementation, researchers from the University of Washington followed 203 participants in the program for 6 months to 3 years. When the researchers compared participants with a control group of 115 people who had just been arrested, jailed, and prosecuted per the classic system, they found that the LEAD participants were  34-58% less likely than their counterparts to have committed new crimes since the original arrest. Additionally, those who have gone through the program will not have arrests or offenses on their record. In a statement released to the press, Seattle King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg said, “We all knew intuitively that LEAD produces better outcomes than jail. It is good to have the first of many studies prove that to be so.”

Due to the success of the program, other cities throughout the nation are considering adopting LEAD. In fact, Santa Fe, New Mexico recently kicked off their LEAD program in 2014, and Albany, NY is in the process of adopting it.

Drug crime and penalties in Washington are outlined in the state's Violation of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act (“VUCSA”), codified in  RCW 69.50 - (Uniform Controlled Substances Act). It should be noted that ore people were arrested for drug crimes than any other class of crimes in America than any other crime -- about one in every 207.

Greater Seattle Area Drug Crimes Attorney

Seattle criminal defense lawyer Steve Karimi is well versed in the laws governing drug possession and usage. As a former prosecutor, he has the experience to be able to provide aggressive legal defenses for persons charged with possession, marijuana DUI juvenile drug charges, and drug delivery charges. Drug charges, including marijuana charges, are nothing to joke about. They can lead to serious life consequences such as a criminal record, tarnished reputation, decreased employment opportunities, and academic opportunities. Mr. Kamini zealously represent juveniles, students, and adults in all aspects of VUCSA and marijuana-related charges. In many cases, he is able to get VUSCA cases dismissed in the Snohomish County Courts, as well as getting charges off your records.

If you have been charged with a drug-related crime,  contact our VUCSA defense attorney today or call 206-621-8777 to schedule a free initial consultation. We also have 24-hour call service available at 206-660-6200. Do not fight the legal system alone. Mr. Karimi will make sure your rights are defended.

About the Author

Steve Karimi

Steve Karimi attended Pepperdine University School of Law. After graduation he worked as a prosecutor in Seattle where he gained valuable insight to the criminal justice system. Attorney Karimi uses his experiences as a prosecutor everyday only now he fights for the justice of those accused.


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If you have been charged with a drug crime in Seattle, call The Law Offices of Steve Karimi right away. When it comes to your future, you need experienced and reliable legal assistance with a proven record of successful drug crime defense. Call now to get started.