Colorado Criminal Drug Law – Pre-Booking Diversion – Getting Out Of The Criminal Justice System – A pilot program in Maryland called STEER provides for a diversion point utilized by the police to “deflect” certain drug crimes cases out of the system and into treatment programs before those cases are filed and lives are ruined by that very same system.
The truth is this – while not the subject of discussion because it is so obvious, in almost every case, the only way into the justice system is through the police. The police make approximately 14 million arrests a year.
The new idea is this – “STEER.” A form of “police deflection” STEER stands for Stop, Triage, Engage, Educate and Rehabilitate
The experimental program was started in 2016 in Montgomery County Maryland. The police call cases that can be diverted from the criminal justice system “deflecting” those case. A kind of “front end” justice, the reasoning behind deflection, while still an uncharted area of policing, makes great sense.
Deflection is based on the police knowing, using predetermined criteria, when a citizen needs help instead of needing to be arrested. Deflection means, under the facts of the specific case, the…
“…correct movement of citizens either into the criminal justice system or away from it and towards the human services system…”
As a result deflection results in:
1) reducing crime,
2) (re-)building community relations,
3) reducing drug use and
4) restoring the lives of citizens.
Giving The Police Discretion To Help – “Evidence-Based Officer Decision Making”
Evidence-based practices are currently used in almost every one of the many criminal justice systems across the country – including Colorado’s criminal justice system. Deflection – returns discretion to the police to make the kind of “front end” decisions of risk-need, screening and assessment that law enforcement has conducted for decades. This kind of discretion especially makes sense in drug crime cases.
The police should be allowed to use so called evidence-based risk-need tools to enhance and guide their decision-making in the field.
Here Is How Deflection Works
Deflection provides discretion to the street cop to conduct a field risk-need screens – such as determining whether the suspect needs to go to lock-up or whether that individual fits “a low-moderate criminogenic risk profile and high treatment need profile.”
If, after applying pre-determined criteria, even if the suspect is eligible for the filing of criminal charges, the police have the discretion to hold those charges in abeyance if the individual voluntarily accepts an intervention referral.
In Maryland this is called a “warm handoff.” The police officer “hands off” the case to a 24/7 community-based case manager for a full clinical assessment and referral to treatment resources. The resources are many and are used to address underlying substance abuse disorder and/or mental health challenges.
The case manager, after the warm handoff focuses his or her work on:
- rapid treatment access,
- retention in treatment,
- motivation for treatment,
- engagement in treatment, and
- completion of that treatment.
- demonstrating significant levels of officer buy-in –
A Tool To Help In The Opioid Epidemic
The opioid crisis is rampant in almost every state in the country. Overdoses and overdose deaths have increased the burden on first responders who encounter overdose situations daily. Arresting a drug addict after an emergency room visit makes no sense.
Deflection models such as STEER provide a useful tool for fighting the opioid overdose epidemic. Rather than focusing on prosecution the model focuses on prevention and intervention.
“Prevention stops future entry into the criminal justice system following police contact by providing the individual with a case manager and peer mentor and access within two days to treatment that will reduce criminogenic (criminal) behavior.”
Colorado Criminal Drug Law – Pre-Booking Diversion – Getting Out Of The Criminal Justice System
If you found any of the information I have provided on this web page article helpful please click my Plus+1 or the Share buttons for Twitter and Facebook below so that others may also find it.
The contents of this article are based upon my research, my personal experience and my personal analysis and opinions developed from my thirty six years (as of 2018) of criminal trial experience from both sides of the courtroom – as a former career prosecutor for Arapahoe and Douglas Counties (13 years) and as the owner of my own Criminal Defense Law Firm since 1999 (19 years).
The reader is also admonished that Colorado criminal law, like criminal law in every state and at the Federal level, changes constantly. The article appearing above was accurate at the time it was drafted but it cannot account for changes occurring after it was uploaded.
If, after reading this article, you have questions about your case and would like to consider retaining our law firm, we invite you to contact us at the Steinberg Colorado Criminal Defense Law Firm – 303-627-7777.
Never stop fighting – never stop believing in yourself and your right to due process of law. You will not be alone in court, H. Michael will be at your side every step of the way – advocating for justice and the best possible result in your case. H. Michael Steinberg is passionate about criminal defense. His extensive knowledge and experience of Colorado Criminal Law gives him the edge you need to properly handle your case
A Denver Colorado Criminal Defense Lawyer – or call his office at 303-627-7777 during business hours – or call his cell if you cannot wait and need his immediate assistance – please call 720-220-2277.
“A good criminal defense lawyer is someone who devotes themselves to their client’s case from beginning to end, always realizing that this case is the most important thing in that client’s life.”
You should be careful to make a responsible choice in selecting a Colorado Criminal Defense Lawyer. We encourage you to “vet” our firm. Over the last 36 plus years – by focusing ONLY on Colorado criminal law – H. Michael has had the necessary time to commit to the task of constantly updating himself on nearly every area of criminal law, to include Colorado criminal law and procedure and trial and courtroom practice.
Putting more than 36 years of Colorado criminal defense experience to work for you.
H. Michael works hard to get his clients the best possible results in and out of the courtroom. He has written, and continues to write, extensively on Colorado criminal law and he hopes this article helps you in some small way – Colorado Criminal Drug Law – Pre-Booking Diversion – Getting Out Of The Criminal Justice System.