Faith Community Support of the Atlanta/Fulton County Pre-Arrest Diversion Initiative Open Access

Noblitt, Joshua (Spring 2018)

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The issue of recidivism has become an increasingly detrimental problem in urban areas across the United States, and particularly in Atlanta. Various stakeholders affected by recidivism formed a taskforce in 2013 that later evolved into the Atlanta/Fulton County Pre-Arrest Diversion Initiative (PAD) in 2016.  Pre-Arrest Diversion (PAD) is a pilot program by which individuals detained by police for certain nonviolent crimes can be diverted into services or treatment, rather than be processed into the criminal justice system. This project examines how clergy and congregations can be involved with pre-arrest diversion efforts by mobilizing churches in the pilot district to provide meaningful support, collaboration, and resources to the Atlanta PAD program. Saint Mark UMC collaborated with Lutheran Church of the Redeemer and PAD to form a Memorandum of Understanding outlining terms for our churches to create and maintain a space stocked with resources for use by the PAD social workers, referred to as “Care Navigators.”  The Care Navigators bring participants diverted from arrest to the church to take care of immediate basic needs such as food, shower, and rest and to begin the triage process for getting services and treatment. An analysis of the initial findings of this collaboration are offered along with considerations for expanding faith community collaboration with PAD if and when it moves from a pilot program to city and county-wide policy. 

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