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Program may help drug addicts get treatment instead of charges

Law enforcement officials in Baltimore are trying a new program aimed at reducing incarceration rates for minor drug crimes and prostitution. In a planned three-year pilot program, people who are charged with low-level drug crimes or prostitution would be taken to get treatment for their problem instead of being sent to jail. The program pulls together local non-profit agencies and the police department.

Police Commissioner Kevin Davis notes that there are too many people who are facing criminal charges because of a drug addiction. Instead of simply locking those people up, the program will provide them with the help they need to overcome the addiction. The hope is that once they kick the addiction, they won’t get into any more legal trouble.

While the program is small now, it was modeled after successful programs in other areas of the country. People who chosen to participate in the program can get mental health help, rehabilitation, and help with housing. Other services, such as providing clean clothes or a safe place to sleep for the night are also possible.

Police officers who come into contact with eligible individuals would contact Baltimore Crisis Response Inc for assistance through the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program.

Only around 60 individuals are expected to be enrolled in the program at a time. Even with this small enrollment, the difference it can make is huge.

For now, some people will still face criminal charges for these crimes. If you are one of the ones who isn’t offered the program, other options might be available. Find out about your defense possibilities as soon as possible after you are charged.

Source: The Baltimore Sun, “Baltimore police to divert low-level drug, prostitution offenders to support services rather than jail,” Kevin Rector, Feb. 06, 2017

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