Clackamas County has been awarded $900,000 for the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) Plus project. The LEAD project, launched in January 2019, offers people involved in low-level drug offenses the choice of case management instead of jail time. The goal is to emphasize harm reduction and connection to services as a way to keep people out of the criminal justice process.
The county contracts with Central City Concern, who assess the individuals and submit a report to a team made up of representatives from the county's Health, Housing, and Human Services Department, Sheriff’s Office, and the District Attorney's Office. If the committee finds they are eligible for the program, the case managers then become personal advocates for their clients, helping them access services including housing and health care.
Of the 84 enrolled participants, 43 identified a housing related need. 36 participants had a housing related need met, including 14 who moved from homelessness into permanent housing.
“These new funds will help us expand the great work Central City Concern is doing to get people the help they need instead of sending them to jail,” said Vahid Brown, Housing Policy Coordinator. “We are proud to be taking a harm-reduction approach, and it is great to see that many of our partners are implementing this model as well.”
The LEAD program is just one of many ways that Clackamas County and its partners have responded strongly to opioid misuse. These new funds will also allow them to strengthen the comprehensive response by creating structure to unite efforts with ongoing coordination. This will maximize the overall impact and turn the tide of the crisis.
Key partners of H3S included in this project include the Clackamas County District Attorney’s Office, Sheriff’s Office, Milwaukie Police Department, the Indigent Defense Corporation, homeless/houseless service providers, and substance abuse treatment providers.
“LEAD provides law enforcement agencies, in conjunction with the DA, the option to redirect low-level offenders involved in drug activity to intensive case management tailored to those persons’ individual needs, instead of jail and prosecution,” said Richard Swift, Director of Clackamas County Health, Housing and Human Services. “This approach focuses on providing access to services to reduce trauma to self and the surrounding community, lowering recidivism rates and failures to appear in court. This program decreases the number of people experiencing houseless and people of color who are repeatedly prosecuted for low-level drug possession, and improves outcomes for all.”