The Atlanta/Fulton County Pre-Arrest Diversion Initiative (PAD) seeks to transform our local criminal legal and service system by reducing harm and improving the quality of life for people that cycle through the city and county jails. Our initiative allows police officers to divert individuals out of this system at the time of probable cause. Since launching in October 2017, we have successfully diverted 66 people from arrest and into social services. Once diverted, PAD Care Navigators develop harm reduction goals with each participant and link them to resources.
Our agency is jointly funded by Fulton County, City of Atlanta, and private donors to accomplish the following goals:
1. Reduce Criminal Justice System Involvement for people whose criminalized behaviors are related to substance use, unmet mental health needs, and/or extreme poverty.
2. Improve Diverted Individuals’ Quality of Life, including physical and mental health, by offering ongoing case management and increasing connection to care.
3. Strengthen Social Service Infrastructure by building partnerships, providing training, and fostering collaboration with a network of partners to provide evidence-based, trauma-informed, harm reduction services, and peer support in an environment of dignity and respect.
4. Reorient Attitudes and Responses to mental illness, substance use, and poverty– away from criminalization and toward public health.
5. Advocate for Reallocation of Criminal Justice Funding to safety and wellness strategies that include community-based services and supportive housing.
6. Shift Culture and Heal Relationships between communities and police officers by providing outreach and education that promotes alternatives to arrest and consistent community engagement.