The Pandemic and North Carolinians Battling Drug Addiction

New op-ed at NC Policy Watch by Dr. Allison Robertson, PhD, MPH - an Associate Professor in the Services Effectiveness Research Program, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University School of Medicine, and faculty member with Duke Law Center for Science and Justice. Dr. Robertson is currently researching a series of LEAD programs in North Carolina - and by Melissia Larson is Law Enforcement Programs Manager for the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition (NCHRC).

COVID-19 is making community alternatives to incarceration more important than ever before

An excerpt of their new piece:

Much important attention is focusing on how the COVID-19 pandemic is gravely affecting people who are incarcerated in U.S. jails and prisons, a crisis that is worsening daily. There are also very serious concerns about justice-involved people who are living in the community during the pandemic, and are at particularly high risk. Now more than ever, we need alternatives to arresting people: but we also face new challenges providing those alternatives in the community.

The time has come to more broadly embrace LEAD, or Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion, which debuted in Seattle, Wash., and has spread nationwide. The idea is rather than arrest a person for drug-related and other low-level criminal offenses, a person should instead be connected to a range of treatment and social services in the community. The LEAD model, based on a partnership between law enforcement, judicial officials, case managers and service providers, takes a harm-reduction approach, with strong community outreach to meet people “where they are.”