An Analysis of the Use of Transformational Relationships in the Atlanta/Fulton County Pre-Arrest Diversion (PAD) Initiative: A Process Evaluation Open Access

Baker, Nicole (Spring 2019)

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Traditional criminal prosecution is an inefficient, time-consuming, and expensive response to the commission of low-level crimes as the consequences of arrest make it significantly more difficult to survive without reoffending. The Atlanta Fulton County Pre-Arrest Diversion Initiative (PAD) partners with the Atlanta Police Department (APD) in an innovative approach to addressing crimes stemming from poverty, problematic substance use, and mental illness. This evaluation focuses on the way the interactions, contributions, perceptions, and priorities of different stakeholders, individually and as a collective group, bolster or hinder the achievement of program aims. Using open-ended questions to guide conversation, semi-structured interviews inquired about stakeholders’ perspectives on PAD in general, aspects of their roles in PAD including challenges and priorities, and specifically affective & cognitive stakeholder buy-in. Though each stakeholder expressed investment in PAD’s success some way or another, due to the specific mission of each partner, priorities have already differed in the past and eventually will conflict again in the future. Adhering to a specific, mutually agreed upon set of guiding principles allows for stakeholders to hold each-other accountable through program implementation, inform stakeholder’s prioritization, and ensure activities remain centered on achieving PAD outcomes, not individual stakeholder priorities. The Atlanta/Fulton County Pre-Arrest Diversion Initiative has demonstrated success in positively transforming relationships across stakeholder organizations, paving the way for alignment in their vision to improving public safety through towards utilizing rehabilitation through services instead of retribution through incarceration. 

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Operational Definitions. i

Chapter 1. Introduction & Background. 1

Statement of Need. 1

Atlanta/Fulton County Pre-Arrest Diversion (PAD) Initiative Overview.. 2

Goals & Objectives 2

Program Design & Implementation. 3

Theory 7

Funding & Support 9

Characterization of Target Population. 10

Mental Health. 11

Homelessness 12

Sex Work 13

Substance Abuse & Addiction. 13

Characterization of Stakeholders 14

Purpose of Evaluation. 16

Chapter 2. Comprehensive Literature Review.. 17

Mass Incarceration. 17

Incarceration in the United States 17

Incarceration in Georgia 21

Societal Impacts of Mass Incarceration. 23

Criminal Justice Diversion Programs and Initiatives 25

Diversion at the Law Enforcement Level 26

Transformational Relationships in Stakeholder Collaboration. 31

Chapter 3. Methodology. 33

Study Design. 33

Program Description. 33

Population and Sample. 33

Partner Organizations 34

Focus Group: Midtown Residents 34

Interviewers and Interview Materials 35

Interviewer 35

Interview Guide 36

Procedures 36

Data Management 37

Data Analysis Plan. 37

Chapter 4. Primary Findings. 39

Stakeholder Characterization of the Pre-Arrest Diversion Initiative. 39

Affective Stakeholder Buy-In. 43

I.     Belief that all relevant stakeholders have had meaningful involvement in designing the initiative 44

II.    Belief that the initiative has good staff who can implement it well 44

III.   Belief that Atlanta has sufficient resources for the initiative to work well and sustainably 46

Cognitive Stakeholder Buy-In. 51

I.   Stakeholder perceptions that the initiative is more or less cost effective than current practice 51

II.   Stakeholder perceptions that the initiative improves or devalues the neighborhood  52

III.   Perceptions that the initiative reduces or increases crime. 55

IV.   Perceptions that the initiative improves participants’ quality of life, and that this is a good thing. 58

Chapter 5. Discussion, Conclusion, & Recommendations. 61

Discussion: Transforming Stakeholder Relationships 61

Stakeholder Recommendations 65

Limitations 66

Implications. 67

Conclusions 68

Additional Resource. 69

References. 69

Appendices. 78

Appendix A: Interview Guide. 78

Appendix B: Process Evaluation Matrix (Stakeholders) 1

Appendix C: PAD Criminal Justice System Navigation Protocol 1

Appendix D: PAD Care Navigation Protocol (v3) 1

Appendix E: Atlanta/Fulton County Pre-Arrest Diversion Initiative - Memorandum of Understanding 18

Appendix F: Atlanta/Fulton County Pre-Arrest Diversion Initiative - Operational Protocol 19

Appendix G: Codebook. 29

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