DA King Announces the Grand Opening of Pathways, the First Judicial District Attorney’s New Diversion Program

GOLDEN, Colo. (Nov. 29, 2022) – District Attorney Alexis King announced today the official launch of the highly anticipated Pathways program and the grand opening of a dedicated Pathways office in Lakewood.  

Established in 2022, Pathways is the First Judicial District’s new diversion program that connects individuals who have committed low-level, non-violent crimes with the resources, treatment, and social support needed to address the underlying causes of their criminal behavior. Unlike the previous Adult Diversion Program, which required a guilty plea prior to participation, Pathways now diverts individuals into programming before charges are filed and before they become part of the criminal justice system, which is a significant change from the previous program.

“Expanding our diversionary options for individuals who are low-risk and who can be stabilized in our community, is essential to community safety and well-being,” said District Attorney Alexis King. “This was one of my key campaign promises and a fundamental part of my vision for public safety; I am proud to have delivered a program that is and will continue to positively impact our community.”

The Pathways program, led by former public defender Ken Hayes, was developed with technical assistance from the Center for Court Innovation and colleagues from across the metro area, and relies on its dedicated client specialists, many of whom have served justice-involved clients for over twenty years. This year, Pathways specialists have served over 526 clients and based on current data, it is estimated the program will serve over 1300 clients in 2023.

Pathways has four different programs, the Safe and Licensed Driver Program, Substance Intervention Program, Encourage Path, and Engage Path. Each program or “path” uses a collaborative, strength-based approach with clients and community resources to provide targeted services and a path toward compassionate accountability. With a focus on community safety, repairing harm, and reducing the damaging collateral consequences of criminal convictions, Pathways seeks to reduce the risk of individuals reoffending by utilizing “Risk, Need, & Responsivity” assessments to identify and implement appropriate community services and interventions.

The Safe and Licensed Driver Program (SLD), which has already served over 169 clients since launching in September, is a commonsense program that was created to decrease the negative impacts of unlicensed and uninsured driving on the community and navigate drivers to get reinstated and insured. In Colorado, when someone receives a ticket for Driving Under Restraint (DUR), any plea to a moving violation results in one additional year of suspension of that license. The penalties progress the more pleas that occur within certain time frames, and as a result, people become caught in a cycle of revocation that can last 5, 10, or even 15 years, making them unlikely to ever reinstate their driver’s license or drive with insurance.

“This program is a start to ending that cycle,” said Director Ken Hayes. “Many people lack the resources to navigate the unfamiliar and often confusing process to reinstate their license. Yet, in a metro area like Jefferson County, the ability to drive remains vital for these individuals to accomplish every-day responsibilities like going to work, grocery shopping, attending appointments, and taking kids to school. The Safe and Licensed Driver program is a centralized and knowledgeable resource that partners with individuals to reinstate their license and obtain insurance so they can drive within our community and achieve their daily needs in a legal and safe manner.”

Not only is Pathways producing results in its first year, but the program has also improved racial equity amongst diversion participants. Currently, 34% of participants identify as Hispanic, 6% of participants identify as Black, and 47% as White. “Providing equitable opportunities to diversionary programs was one of our top priorities when developing the program,” said King, “this is essential for fundamental fairness and will build trust within our community.”

The grand opening celebration will occur at the new building on December 6th, 2022.