WASHINGTON (Jan. 10, 2021) – U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and U.S. Representative Teresa Leger Fernández (D-N.M.) are welcoming $582,810 from the U.S. Department of Justice to enable Rio Arriba County's Health and Human Services Department to expand and enhance the existing Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program.
The LEAD program is a pre-booking diversion program developed to address low-level drug and prostitution crimes. The program allows law enforcement officers to redirect low-level offenders engaged in drug or prostitution activity to community-based services, instead of jail and prosecution. By diverting eligible individuals to services, LEAD is committed to improving public safety and public order, and reducing the criminal behavior of people who participate in the program.
“Violent crime in our communities must be taken seriously so that we can keep people and communities safe. This funding helps our law enforcement and prosecutors up their focus on violent crime,” said Heinrich. “It does that by expanding this successful diversion program for nonviolent and low-level offenders – especially young people – providing the rehabilitation that will create a safer and healthier community for us all.”
“The rehabilitation focus of this program directs nonviolent offenders toward community-based services. This will allow law enforcement to prioritize violent crime prevention,”said Luján. “It is critical that we empower law enforcement to keep our communities safe, while also showing compassion to low-level offenders – often young people who deserve a second chance. This funding is a commitment to public safety and to building up our young people.”
"This important investment improves public safety and provides non-violent, low-level offenders with opportunities to learn new skills and give back to their communities,” said Leger Fernández. “The LEAD diversion program reduces recidivism, changes lives, and ensures law enforcement has the resources to address violent criminal activity. We must prioritize crime prevention so that we can create safe, healthy communities.”
This funding will result in enhanced coverage during peak off-business hours, late nights, and during the weekends, in addition to establishing an expanded intake network in order to maximize the number of beneficiaries of the program. This project will result in 80 individuals that are referred by law enforcement for pre-arrest diversion to treatment, and will provide transitional housing assistance for at least four of these individuals.