Santa Fe, NM’s Innovative Opiate Diversion Program Shows Promise to Improve Health Outcomes Without Negatively Impacting Public Safety

Press Release October 10, 2018
Media Contact

Emily Kaltenbach, 505-920-5256
Tony Newman 646-335-5384

An evaluation of the Santa Fe’s Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) pilot program was recently conducted by the New Mexico Sentencing Commission in partnership with the NM Statistical Analysis Center and Pivot Evaluation. The aim of the evaluation was to understand the impact of a pre-arrest diversion program for persons involved in non-violent, low level drug related crime on individual health, public safety, and the stigma of drug use and recovery. Results of the evaluation show promising outcomes on all points of interest.
A press conference releasing the evaluation findings will be Thursday, October 11th, at the City of Santa Fe Council Chambers.
Santa Fe was the second jurisdiction in the Country to implement a Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program. LEAD is a pre-arrest diversion program that enables law enforcement officers to utilize their discretion to redirect persons involved in non-violent, low level drug related crime to services instead of arrest and incarceration.   These individuals receive trauma-informed, intensive case-management and other treatment and harm reduction services that the criminal justice system cannot provide.
LEAD has operated in Santa Fe since May of 2014.  Since the inception, 177 individuals have been diverted from arrest and prosecution to services and treatment.
“The evaluation data is incredibly encouraging as it shows that diversion programs that do not arrest people for possession and use of small amounts of drugs can work. Treating people in the health system instead of punishing them in the criminal justice system leads to better outcomes for individuals as well as the community at large,” stated Emily Kaltenbach, state director of Drug Policy Alliance. “We will use the data to improve and enhance the Santa Fe program while sharing it with other cities, in New Mexico and nationally, that are interested in replicating the model. Currently, there are over eighteen cities nationwide with LEAD programs like Santa Fe’s, with another eleven programs launching soon.”
What: Santa Fe Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion Evaluation Report Release
Where: Outside Santa Fe City Hall, 200 Lincoln Ave, Santa Fe, NM 87501
When: Thursday, October 11th, 9:30 am
Speakers will include:

•    Mayor Alan Webber, City of Santa Fe
•    Marco Serna, District Attorney, First Judicial District
•    Santa Fe Police Department (Invited)
•    Bennett Bauer, NM’s Chief Public Defender
•    Denise Herrera, Mother of a LEAD Participant
•    Emily Kaltenbach, Drug Policy Alliance (moderator)


A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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