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U.S.: Reps From 30+ Cities To Meet On Innovative Approach To Low-Level Drug Offenses

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LEAD Established Unique Collaboration Among Law Enforcement, Human Service Agencies, Business Leaders, and Community Members to Produce Nearly 60% Reduction in Recidivism in Seattle

Wednesday: Convening Hosted by Major Foundations and Seattle Police Department

Thursday: Convening Co-Hosted by Major Foundations and The White House

This week, government officials and community leaders from more than 30 city, county and state jurisdictions will gather to discuss an innovative program that brings together diverse stakeholders seeking to achieve better outcomes in public health and safety by diverting people from jail to services.

The program, known as Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion, or LEAD, was pioneered in Seattle. Under LEAD, police divert individuals who commit low-level drug offenses to harm reduction based case management services. An independent evaluation found that it reduced the likelihood of reoffending by nearly 60 percent compared to a control group that went through the criminal justice system “as usual.”

LEAD’s successes and positive evaluations have sparked widespread attention and interest, especially in a moment when the police role in dealing with “quality of life” issues is controversial and the way forward after the War On Drugs is uncertain.

New York: City and County of Albany To Reduce Low Level Arrests, Racial Disparities

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Broad Array of Community Stakeholders Sign Memorandum of Understanding To Collaborate on Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion – LEAD

Working Group Includes Albany Police Department, District Attorney, Albany Mayor’s Office, County Executive and Departments, Business and Community Leaders, and Health Organizations

Officials and community leaders on Thursday announced that the City and County of Albany, New York, will be developing an innovative program to reduce recidivism while advancing public safety and public health. The program is known as Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion, or LEAD.

Under LEAD, police officers may exercise their discretion and divert individuals for certain low-level criminal offenses like drug possession; instead of being arrested and going through the regular criminal justice process, the individual is referred to a case manager, who then facilitates access to a comprehensive network of social services.

Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion was launched in 2011 in Seattle. LEAD emerged from a growing consensus that the war on drugs has failed, its associated racial disparities are unacceptable, and there is a need for innovative, effective approaches to reduce the number of people unnecessarily entering the criminal justice system.

Santa Fe became the second jurisdiction to implement the program in 2014. Albany is the first East Coast city and the third city in the nation to begin developing LEAD.

New York: NYC Council Holds Hearing On Bill To Reorient Drug Policy Towards Health

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Legislation Would Create an Office to Coordinate Drug Strategy Between Dozens of Departments

Emphasizes Evidence-based Policy Making to Promote Health and Public Safety and Reduce Negative Impact of Past and Current Policies

As the New York City Council prepared to hold a hearing on legislation to reshape how the city deals with illegal drug use, advocates packed the steps of City Hall in support.

The bill would create an Office of Drug Strategy charged with coordinating policy and programmatic priorities across dozens of city agencies and collaborating with community organizations. While similar approaches exist in scores of Canadian and European cities, the New York City office would be the first of its kind in the U.S.

“I know firsthand why we need an Office of Drug Strategy, dedicated to creating alternatives to our city's failed drug policies," said Shantae Owens, a member of VOCAL New York. "When I was arrested for possessing a small amount of drugs, I was homeless and drug addicted, selling drugs just to support a habit.

"I was offered a prison sentence instead of treatment, which was a waste of my life and our tax dollars," Owens said. "New York City can and should be a national role model for how we can end drug war policies and replace them with policies of justice and equity, and politics of compassion and love."

Washington: Seattle's New Approach To Drug Offenses Produces Nearly 60% Reduction In Recidivism

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LEAD Establishes Unique Collaboration Among Law Enforcement, Human Service Agencies, Business Leaders, and Community Members

Interest in LEAD Grows Among Major Cities Across the Nation, Including New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Houston, Atlanta, and Albany

According to a new, independent study by a University of Washington evaluation team, one of the nation’s most innovative and promising approaches to ending the War On Drugs and mass incarceration has been shown to produce a dramatic drop in recidivism.

In 2011, Seattle launched "Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion" (LEAD), a bold new harm reduction-oriented approach to address low-level drug and prostitution crimes and break the cycle of addiction, joblessness and homelessness. Under LEAD, police officers exercise discretion to divert individuals for certain criminal offenses (including low-level drug sales) to a case manager and a comprehensive network of services, instead of booking them to jail and initiating the standard criminal justice process.

LEAD established a unique collaboration between multiple stakeholders who all work together to find new ways to solve old problems. Stakeholders 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.

New York: Officials Ignore Patients; Pursue Unworkable Medical Marijuana Program

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Advocates Say Final Regulations to Leave Thousands of Patients to Suffer Needlessly

Abandoned by Cuomo Administration, Critically Ill Patients and Families Vow to Return to the Legislature to Fix New York’s Broken Medical Marijuana Program

The New York State Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday night released the final regulations for New York’s medical marijuana program. The announcement followed a period of public comment in which patients, families, experts, and industry professionals submitted more than a thousand letters and emails critiquing the proposed regulations for being too restrictive and unworkable.

In response to this incredible level of input from the public and private industry, the Department of Health made absolutely no substantive changes to the regulations. Instead, they made only handful of technical fixes, such as correcting typos, according to the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA).

Twenty-two other states have passed medical marijuana laws, five jurisdictions have passed laws taxing and regulating marijuana for adult use, and the federal government has made clear that they will not interfere with properly administered state marijuana programs. Despite this, the Cuomo Administration, in its response to the public comments, repeatedly uses federal laws as an excuse for inaction.

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