Creating Institutional Change in the Criminal Justice System: White House Blog Post by Judge William Dressel

(Chicago, IL)  –  Judge William F. Dressel, president of the National Judicial College, discusses a collaborative effort for systems change in a new blog post for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

The Judicial Leadership Systems Change Initiative was developed by the National Judicial College and TASC’s Center for Health and Justice, with support and participation from a number of researchers and federal entities, including the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (SAMHSA/CSAT), the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA).

Please read Judge Dressel’s post to find out about this innovative effort to help jurisdictions use science-based, systemwide responses to interrupt cycles of drug-related offenses. The initiative is promoted as a model for institutional change in the 2011 White House National Drug Control Strategy.

TASC Model Recommended in National Drug Control Strategy

The 2010 National Drug Control Strategy includes specific mention of TASC as a model to help break the cycle of drug use, crime, delinquency, and incarceration.

Released by the White House, the strategy establishes five-year goals for reducing drug use and its consequences.  It was developed by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) with input from federal, state, and local partners. 

With 50 percent of 7 million adult offenders in the U.S. classified as dependent on drugs, one of the strategy’s recommendations is that the infrastructure be developed to promote alternatives to incarceration when appropriate. Recommended actions include:

A. Enhance and Promote Diversion Strategies

B. Support Drug and Other Problem-Solving Courts

C. Promote TASC Model of Intensive Case Management

D. Foster Equitable Drug Sentencing

E. Promote Best Practices as Alternatives to Incarceration

Under the TASC recommendation, the National Drug Control Strategy reports:

 “Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities (TASC) offers a state-level model for how intensive case management of drug offenders might work to reduce crime and incarceration and support reentry programs. In many states and localities, governments have provided access to treatment as an alternative to prison for nonviolent offenders with substance abuse or dependence disorders. If clients meet eligibility criteria under the statute, TASC conducts an indepth assessment of their criminal justice history, the nature and extent of addiction, readiness for treatment, and likelihood of treatment success. Through a specialized system of clinical case management, TASC initiates and motivates positive behavior change and long-term recovery for individuals in criminal justice, corrections, juvenile justice, child welfare, and public aid systems.

“TASC case managers develop individualized service plans that include links to community-based substance abuse treatment, medical/mental health services, vocational/educational programs, and other needed social services. This approach has translated into substantial cost-savings through referrals to treatment and services. States should look to places that have effectively implemented the TASC process, such as Illinois and New York, and the Department of Justice will continue to fund alternatives to incarceration so that TASC and TASC-like processes can work effectively.”

In Illinois, TASC’s case management services increase the success rates of those mandated to treatment as part of their probation sentence. Clients who receive TASC’s services are twice as successful in treatment as other treatment clients in Illinois. Two thirds (64%) of TASC clients complete treatment successfully, compared to only one third (33%) of all criminal justice-referred clients in Illinois.

Please click here to access the full strategy.