Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) is a trauma-informed, community oriented approach to policing that seeks 1) to reduce criminal behavior and 2) to improve public safety by connecting low level offenders with treatment, social services, and other community resources.


This approach has proven to save money with demonstrated success for reducing future criminal behavior, as opposed to processing low-level offenders through the criminal justice system.

Identified Problems:

  • Chronic incarceration of individuals due to an underlying issue with substance use, behavioral health, and/ or lack of resources.

  • Escalation of deaths and/or chronic health issues due to opioids and other drugs.

  • Lack of adequate treatment and support for offenders, leading to a cycle of criminal activity, incarceration, and/ or early death.

  • Lack of case management, peer support services, and transportation for linkages to appropriate community resources.

  • Barriers to gainful employment and stable housing (key factors in successful recovery from addiction) due to criminal record and incarceration.

Program Objectives:

  • Prevent long-term involvement with the criminal justice system by diverting low-level crimes towards restorative social services via case management, peer support, and connection with community resources (SA/MH treatment, housing/food/medication assistance, health services, employment/ vocational training/support, etc.)

  • Reduce over-reliance on emergency healthcare through linkage to affordable preventative care.

  • Support collaborative education, prevention, and intervention efforts involving opioid use and other substance use disorders, for all ages.

  • Utilize peer support and case management to assist and encourage justice-involved individuals to enter systems of care, remove barriers to recovery, and stay engaged in recovery.

We believe all people should have an opportunity to succeed.

Our Mission

By diverting low level criminal charges towards case management and treatment resources, the Watauga County  LEAD Program strives to improve the lives of citizens without destroying their futures.


Restorative Justice

Restorative Justice is a different way of responding to crime and/or harm in families, communities and especially in the criminal justice system. Restorative justice emphasizes repairing the harm caused or revealed by unjust behavior through inclusive and cooperative practices that involve the victim, offender, and community members

Learn More About our Jail Program

Contact us with any questions or to get help for yourself or someone you care about. 

Email: wataugalead@gmail.com

Phone: 828-406-8069

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© 2020 by Mediation and Restorative Justice Center, a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Organization. All rights reserved.

"LEAD" is a registered trademark held by the Public Defender Association for the Seattle/ King County LEAD Policy Coordinating Group.