City Attorney’s Office to Divert Some Offenders From Criminal Justice System

By City News Service
City News Service
City News Service
June 16, 2021 Updated: June 16, 2021

LOS ANGELES—The Los Angeles City Attorney’s office will divert from the traditional criminal justice system low-level, nonviolent misdemeanor offenses committed by people experiencing homelessness, mental illness, or drug addiction, City Attorney Mike Feuer announced June 15.

The goal of the Alternatives to Incarceration Pre-Filing Diversion Program is to introduce social service interventions into the criminal justice process as early as possible after arrest, and limiting prosecution and jail for individuals struggling with homelessness, mental illness, or addiction, Feuer said.

The program began June 14 as a pilot program at the Los Angeles Police Department’s 77th Street Community Police Station jail, Feuer said. It will later be expanded to the LAPD’s Central and Valley division jails, Feuer said.

“Our criminal justice system must do more to reduce recidivism and get to the root causes of nonviolent, low-level offenses committed by people experiencing homelessness, grappling with mental illness, or wrestling with drug addiction,” Feuer said.

“In many cases, treatment and services can be much more effective than a brief time in jail. This pilot program provides intervention rather than prosecution, recovery rather than the status quo.”

Arrestees will be screened by law enforcement for eligibility for the program based on the offense they were arrested for and past criminal history, using criteria developed by prosecuting agencies, Feuer said.

Eligible arrestees will be immediately introduced to service providers who will assess their needs, create a treatment plan, provide links to service, and ensure each individual is able to access the services. Unhoused participants will be offered shelter and be transported.

During treatment, which in most cases will be no more than three months for misdemeanors, the police report will not be filed. When the individual has completed the treatment program, the police report will be archived—not acted upon—and no criminal charges will be filed, Feuer said.

If a participant leaves the treatment program prior to completion, the prosecuting agency will determine an appropriate response, Feuer said.

City News Service
City News Service