As part of their ongoing effort to get low-level drug offenders off the streets and into treatment, City Attorney Mara W. Elliott and San Diego Police Chief Nisleit have teamed to launch Prosecution and Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion Services (PLEADS).
PLEADS is a voluntary, pre-booking diversion pathway that allows individuals suspected of being under the influence of a controlled substance to avoid prosecution and jailtime by agreeing to seek support services. The Neighborhood Policing Division is issuing PLEADS referrals during first watch, which is between 5 a.m. and 3 p.m. In its first week, police made nine referrals and six individuals agreed to treatment.
The City Attorney’s Office created PLEADS with three primary goals:
1. Divert low-level drug offenders away from the criminal justice system and connect them to support services.
2. Save taxpayer dollars on time spent by police, attorneys, the court, sheriff staff, jail staff, and judges processing individuals for being under the influence of a controlled substance.
3. Reduce recidivism, allowing police officers and prosecutors from the City Attorney’s Office to focus on other public safety priorities.
Prior to PLEADS, the same support services were not offered until after criminal prosecution and sentencing.
Here is a breakdown of potential taxpayer cost savings:
• In 2017, there were 888 arrests of individuals for being under the influence of a controlled substance by the San Diego Police Department alone.
• The cost per case was at least $2,000 (including staff time for police, attorneys, the court, sheriff staff, jail staff, and the judge).
• With PLEADS in place, the potential annual savings is more than $1.5 million, not including savings from the reduction in calls for emergency services and taxpayer-funded hospitalizations.
Read more: San Diego Community News Group