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Issue Brief: Proven Ways to Reduce Low-Level Offenses, Taxpayer Costs

In an era of change, our guide showcases innovative models for reducing low-level crime and costs, including community partnerships that replace traditional arrest-and-detain practices with new programs that better break the cycle of crime. Click here to view or download.

Examples include:

LEAD (Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion), a partnership between Seattle police and the community – in cooperation with the District Attorney – that diverts individuals suspected of low-level drug, prostitution or other nonviolent offenses to case managers who address the root causes of the behavior. Participants were 58% less likely to be re-arrested than people who were arrested and booked for similar offenses. 

San Francisco District Attorney’s Neighborhood Courts, where volunteer residents (trained in restorative justice) resolve low-level cases to reduce caseloads at criminal courts. The 10 Neighborhood Courts handled 651 cases in a year, while reducing the likelihood of rearrests by as much as 10.3%.

Hawaii Opportunity Probation with Enforcement (HOPE) connects high-risk probationers with treatment and services needed to change behavior, while also warning participants of swift punishments if they fail conditions of their probation. Participants were less likely to be arrested for a new crime, use drugs or have their probation revoked.

Orange County’s Collaborative Courts’ focus on the specific risk factors and needs of veterans, the homeless and people with mental health and addiction problems has lead to recidivism rates of half the statewide average and to more than $1 million in savings for reduced jail stays.

These are some of the many proven programs that could be taken to scale in California to better address low-level offenses – and reduce costs. Read the brief here.



Help Californians win new safety priorities. We pledge to support smart justice strategies that increase safety and reduce costs. Join our efforts to save justice system money so we can invest in prevention, education and health. Click here to read more.