KAUAI’S LONG-AWAITED LEAD PROGRAM IS UNDERWAY
The innovative, collaborative and promising pilot project deals with substance abuse, homelessness and low-level crime
News Release from Office of the Governor, Dec 13, 2019
Lihue, Kauaʻi – Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) has arrived on Kauaʻi, the latest island to launch the nationally recognized arrest diversion program.
The pilot project, which received $650,000 in ʻOhana Zone funding from the State, launched recently in Lihue. The Kauaʻi-based nonprofit Women in Need (WIN) will operate the pilot project alongside key partners, including the Kauaʻi Police Department, the Kauaʻi county Prosecutors, and Mental Health Kokua. All partners have expressed a willingness to make the program a success and a dedication to serving Kauaʻi’s most vulnerable populations.
“The LEAD program shows what is possible when people collaborate and work together for the greater good,” said Scott Morishige, the Governor’s Coordinator on Homelessness. “We’re proud that the State was able to provide ʻOhana Zone funds to launch Kauaʻi’s LEAD pilot, and we look forward to seeing how the pilot program will reduce unsheltered homelessness on Kauaʻi and positively change lives.”
“We are excited to partner with WIN and KPD in rolling out this program,” says Justin Kollar, Kauaʻi’s elected Prosecuting Attorney. “A lot of less-serious criminal conduct results from mental health and substance abuse problems that go unaddressed. Diverting these individuals from the criminal justice system reduces the burden on law enforcement and frees up resources to deal with violent criminals. Getting people the treatment they need also reduces the likelihood that they will commit crimes in the future. It truly takes a community to solve these problems and we are grateful to play our part.”
LEAD is an arrest diversion program implemented as an alternative to the normal criminal justice system cycle of booking, detention, prosecution, conviction and incarceration. Under the LEAD program model, law enforcement officers contact low-level nonviolent offenders or individuals at high risk of arrest and refer them into a trauma-informed intensive case-management program. There, the individual receives a wide range of support services, often including transitional and permanent housing and/or drug treatment. The original LEAD program began in Seattle in 2011 and has been replicated in 34 states.
There are LEAD projects already operating on Oʻahu, Maui and Hawaiʻi island. Honolulu’s LEAD pilot began in July 2018, and a recent 1-year evaluation found that participants saw a 55 percent reduction in law enforcement citations, an increased feeling of wellness, and a decrease in meth use.
“WIN is excited to be an integral part of LEAD,” said Penny Hanohano of Women in Need-Kauai. “We’re looking forward to serving clients that will benefit through the program’s supportive services, while working with Kauai Economic Opportunity (KEO), Mental Health Kokua (MHK), Kauai Police Department (KPD) and Justin Kollar with the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney.”
The WIN staff accompanied Oʻahu’s LEAD hui to Seattle in September of this year to learn from the founders of LEAD about implementation, program development and critical partnerships for a successful program.