No charges for personal drug possession: Seattle’s bold gamble to bring ‘peace’ after the war on drugs

Seattle’s new model has been hailed by criminal justice reformers as a humane alternative to the punitive drug policies of the ’80s and ’90s
The Washington Post (US)
Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Late last year, prosecutors in King County, which encompasses Seattle, became the first in the nation to stop charging people for possessing small amounts of drugs — heroin, meth and crack included — in virtually all cases. Many people who once would have been locked up are now immediately offered help through Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD). It is a profound shift that builds on efforts launched here in recent years to divert low-level drug offenders into treatment and other programs to assist with recovery. The approach, which is being considered elsewhere, amounts to a bold experiment during a historic drug epidemic: Can a major American city beat drug abuse by treating it as a public health crisis rather than a crime?