This study assessed disparities in the placement of law-enforcement-based treatment referral and recovery programs.
This study compares the characteristics and geographic placement of law enforcement agencies with and without Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (PAARI) in 29 states. This placement of PAARI programs reflects broader inequalities in criminal justice and health. More advantaged, predominantly white communities benefit from diversionary programs while fewer alternatives to formal criminal processing exist for lower-income areas and communities of color. Law enforcement agencies situated in communities with lower rates of poverty and smaller Black populations have lower odds of having a PAARI program. Although expanding to hundreds of agencies, PAARI efforts may not be equally distributed across communities, raising concerns about access to non-arrest diversion and increasing disparities in the criminal processing of drug-related offenses. Agencies based in counties with more overdose deaths and greater unmet treatment needs have increased odds of deflection programing. Additional research should explore these growing disparities in the deployment of law enforcement-based treatment referral programs and their consequences on drug law enforcement. (Published Abstract Provided)