In many jurisdictions, offenders who commit relatively minor offenses are arrested and prosecuted to the full extent of the criminal law. Yet subjecting these offenders to pretrial detention, post-conviction incarceration, and searchable arrest and conviction records, may have hidden social costs.
Community Justice and Public Safety
In recent decades, the “broken windows” approach to policing has led several large U.S. cities to employ the proactive policing program known as “Stop, Question, and Frisk” (SQF). The New York City Police Department (NYPD) made over 5 million such stops between 2002 and 2016.
In 2016, the Chicago Police Department developed a pilot pre-arrest diversion strategy, the Westside Narcotics Diversion and Treatment Initiative (WNDTI), to respond to the opioid crisis in underserved Chicago neighborhoods. The goal was to encourage police officers to redirect low-level drug offenders (users and sellers) to treatment, instead of jail and prosecution. This strategy was modeled after a promising program in Seattle, the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD).