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Atlanta Could Get A Pre-Arrest Diversion Program

A new Atlanta initiative would offer an alternative to jail.
Credit David Goldman / Associated Press

Audio version of this story here.

The city of Atlanta is working on a new program that would offer an alternative to jail.

It’s called the Pre-Arrest Diversion program. It would only apply to certain crimes, like carrying less than an ounce of marijuana.

It’s part of a program that Xochitl Bervera helped to design. She’s the director of the Racial Justice Action Center.

“There would be no handcuffs,” Bervera said. “The officer will stop that person for a moment and let them know they had probable cause to make an arrest. But if the person chooses the program that arrest will not take place.”

Atlanta’s program is modeled after a similar diversion plan in Seattle. Bervera says Seattle reduced repeat offenders by almost 60 percent over a five-year period.

The pilot is supposed to launch this summer.

This would be the first program of its kind in both Fulton County and the city.

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