Seattle’s Collaborative Approach to Tackling Recidivism

Seattle’s Collaborative Approach to Tackling Recidivism
Seema Clifasefi, Heather Lonczak, Susan Collins
Crime & Delinquency
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Though the relationship between homelessness and criminal recidivism is not clearly understood, the two are inextricably linked. Research has found that the prevalence of prior homelessness among incarcerated people is up to 11 times higher than it is among the general population, and nearly a quarter of homeless and marginally housed people have a history of incarceration. Seattle’s Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program, which offers case management, job training, housing assistance, financial support, and legal advice people suspected of low-level drug and prostitution offenses, has taken an innovative approach to attempt to end this cycle of recidivism.

To explore the association of time and number of case management contacts with participants’ housing, employment, and income and benefits outcomes, this study conducted a single-arm, within-subjects analysis among 176 LEAD participants. Participants’ baseline housing, employment, and income and benefits statuses were based on their retrospective self-report to case managers during intake (1 month before participation), and ongoing data were collected by case managers throughout an 18-month follow-up period and documented in the agency’s database. The findings showed that, during their participation in LEAD, participants experienced improvements across all outcomes and that obtaining housing and employment was associated with reduced recidivism.

Key findings

  • Participants were twice as likely to have been sheltered and 89 percent more likely to have obtained permanent housing after their LEAD referral. For each contact with case managers, the likelihood of being housed increased 5 percent.
  • For each additional month housed, participants were 17 percent less likely to have been arrested during the follow-up.
  • There was no statistically significant increase in employment. But when this outcome was expanded to include being employed, in vocational training, or retired from legitimate employment, participants were 46 percent more likely to be in one of those categories during the follow-up.
  • For each additional month employed, participants were 33 percent less likely to have been arrested.
  • LEAD participants were 33 percent more likely to be connected to income and benefits.

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