News

Lisa Daugaard, The Defender Association, Seattle, WA

12/10/2013

Lisa Daugaard, The Defender Association, Seattle, WA

12/10/2013

Lisa spent years defending clients in Seattle charged with low-level drug and prostitution offenses and became acutely aware that arrest and incarceration only exacerbated her clients’ suffering. She began to ask herself, “is there a way to meaningfully address the problems that fuel addition and prostitution?”

Lisa DaugaardShe found her answer with those who shared her concerns in the police and prosecutor’s office. Using her traditional tool of litigation wasn’t working, so she initiated a collaborative effort to develop an alternative public safety and public health approach to addiction. Daugaard created the Law Enforcement Diversion Program (LEAD) to give police officers another option before booking low-level drug or prostitution offenders into jail. Instead through LEAD, officers can refer these individuals to social workers who work to stop the cycle of criminal activity.

LEAD began its pilot project in Belltown in October 2011. To date, LEAD has approximately 130 clients, 75% of whom were homeless upon entering the program and most of whom lacked access to even basic services. LEAD also benefits taxpayers: unlike other diversion programs, LEAD referrals occur before clients are booked into jail and thus reduces criminal justice expenditures.