By Gary Warth
For homeless people dealing with drug addiction, life can be an endless loop of arrests and incarcerations, often leading back to the street to repeat the cycle.
In the near future, homeless people found to be under the influence of drugs when contacted by San Diego police officers will have a chance to break that cycle with an offer to meet with drug counselors rather than return to jail.
”This is just the right thing to do,” San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit said about Prosecution and Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion Services, or PLEADS, a pilot program being launched as a joint effort by the city and county.
“It’s the right thing for the community, the right thing to do for that person who is battling addiction and it’s the right to do for us on the prosecution side,” he said.
The goal of the program is to provide an incentive to get drug-users into rehabilitation by offering treatment as an alternative to arrest and jail time, Nisleit said.
He stressed that PLEADS was not a response to Proposition 47, passed by voters in 2014, which reduced some nonviolent offenses— including simple drug possession and some property crimes — from felonies to misdemeanors.
Some law enforcement officials and others have said the proposition took away the court’s leverage to offer people rehabilitation programs rather than stints in county jail or state prison.