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Former Pittsburgh Zone 1 Cmdr. Rashall Brackney (Courier File Photo)


ast year, a group of advocates, city and county justice and human service officials, academics and foundation representatives held a series of meetings on implementing a program that could both reduce the disparate number of low-risk Black offenders in the Allegheny County jail, but also help repair the strained relationships between police and Pittsburgh’s African American communities.

Called LEAD, for Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion, the program diverts select non-violent defenders into a human service and treatment regimen rather than to jail at the point of arrest. Prosecutors hold the charges in abeyance pending completion of the program.

It sounded like, as Alliance for Police Accountability Executive Director Brandi Fisher called it, “a no brainer,” especially since then Pittsburgh Zone 1 Cmdr. Rashall Brackney and Northside Coalition for Fair Housing President and CEO Ronell Guy were set to roll out a pilot version in select neighborhoods.

Fast forward to last week, and the University of Pittsburgh Institute of Politics released its Criminal Justice Task Force report on improving incarceration policies and practices in Allegheny County. Among it’s recommendations:

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