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New pilot program offers treatment for drug offenders instead of jail time

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COLORADO -

Pueblo County is tackling jail overcrowding issues thanks to a pilot program offering treatment for low-level drug offenders instead of jail time.

A grant from the state totaling more than $400,000 made this diversion program possible.

The LEAD program, which stands for Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion, provides intervention plans and case management services to low-level offenders.

The goal is to target drug addiction and hold these individuals accountable for their recovery rather than letting them get trapped in the system.

"Instead of dealing with the problem by creating more capacity in the jail and continuing to incarcerate, it's a progressive approach in the right direction to see if we can't better address the root of the issue," said Pueblo County Commissioner Garrison Ortiz.

Ortiz added it'll likely take at least two years before those inmate numbers begin to change.

The Pueblo LEAD Pilot Program is a multi-agency collaborative partnership between the Pueblo Board of County Commissioners, the 10th Judicial District Attorney, Pueblo County Sheriff's Office, City of Pueblo Police Department, Pueblo County Public Defender's Office, Pueblo City-County Health Department and the Southern Colorado Harm Reduction Association.

The program will be operational in April 2018.

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