Supportive Release Center Marks One-Year Anniversary; Model Replicated in Albuquerque

(Chicago) – In Albuquerque, New Mexico, a “one-stop” program recently opened to assist people newly released from jail in accessing a place to stay, food, medicine, substance use treatment, and other social supports.

The Albuquerque program—known as the Bernalillo County (NM) Resource Re-Entry Center—came about after local officials teamed up with the National Association of Counties and TASC (Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities), which has been devising and implementing collaborative linkages between justice systems and community-based services since 1976.

One year ago in Chicago, TASC and partners launched the forerunner to the Albuquerque program.

Located just blocks from the Cook County Jail, TASC’s Supportive Release Center (SRC) offers a brief overnight stay and linkages to community-based services for men leaving the jail who are struggling with mental illness, substance use disorders, and/or physical health challenges, and who have no immediate place to go. The SRC serves as a guiding resource for voluntary participants who face vulnerabilities following their release from jail.

TASC care coordinators assist participants in accessing healthcare services, health insurance, identification, and other supports such as housing, food, job training, and legal aid resources. Connections to needed services are vital for individuals to become stabilized in the community, improve their health, and lessen their likelihood of returning to jail.

As an Urban Labs Innovation Challenge winner, and with funding from an array of private foundations and donors, the SRC represents a collaboration between TASC, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office and an array of partners to offer a “softer landing” for persons being released from the jail. Alongside TASC’s program administration and care coordination services, Heartland Health Alliance (HAH) provides intensive case management for individuals who require longer-term support, such as housing or treatment for serious mental illness. The UChicago Urban Labs is evaluating the SRC to ensure the efficacy of the program and lay the groundwork for improvements, expansion, and future replication.

Since the SRC’s ribbon-cutting on July 26, 2017, more than 600 men leaving the Cook County Jail have received services at the SRC.

“The hours immediately following release from jail are critical, especially for people who face vulnerabilities in terms of behavioral health, related medical issues, and housing,” said Alicia Osborne, director of operations for TASC. “It’s a privilege not only to be able to offer a place that eases that transition, but also to see that what we’re doing in Cook County can be beneficial to other counties facing these same challenges.”

Offering an overnight stay and linkage to services in the community, TASC’s Supportive Release Center welcomes men who are leaving the Cook County Jail and have no immediate place to go.

Advertisements

National Collaborative Co-founded by TASC Launches Website Supporting Pre-Arrest Diversion

(Chicago) — The Police, Treatment, and Community Collaborative (PTACC), of which the Center for Health and Justice at TASC is a founding member, has launched a website to support colleagues across the country facing multiple public health and public safety challenges in their communities.

PTACC was formed in April 2017 to advocate for the expanded use of pre-arrest diversion by law enforcement, and advance research efforts for successful program implementation nationwide. Pre-arrest diversion provides an alternative to arrest for people with substance use and mental health conditions, as well as for those who have committed nonviolent misdemeanors. The collaborative consists of practitioners in law enforcement, behavioral health, community advocacy, research, and public policy, with a collective mission to strategically enhance the quantity and quality of community behavioral health and social service options through pre-arrest diversion.

Jac Charlier, National Director for Justice Initiatives, Center for Health and Justice at TASC

“We estimate that out of the 18,000 police departments in the US, about 550 have started new pre-arrest diversion efforts in the last five years,” said Jac Charlier, national director for justice initiatives at the Center for Health and Justice at TASC and co-founder of PTACC. “This is a time of rapid growth in this newly emerging field, and with many more departments looking to these initiatives to address the opioid epidemic or serious mental illness, the PTACC national website is timely in responding to this growth.”

By establishing its web presence at ptaccollaborative.org, PTACC will provide support to communities across the country looking to start or improve their own pre-arrest diversion initiatives. The website will highlight the efforts of workgroups within PTACC’s six Strategy Areas: Leadership; Treatment, Housing, and Recovery; Public Safety; Community, Diversity, and Inclusion; Research; and Policy and Legislation. Together, these workgroups develop resources and tools to help advance pre-arrest diversion across the country and provide guidance to practitioners in the field, their research partners, and community members.

Approximately one-third of all adults in the US have an arrest record. The majority of those in jail have not been convicted and almost half are there for a drug-related offense. The average annual cost to detain someone in jail is $47,000, according to the Vera Institute of Justice. By contrast, conservative estimates consistently show that, for every dollar invested in addiction treatment, which may range from outpatient to residential to medication-assisted recovery, $4 to $7 are saved in reduced theft, drug-related crime, and criminal justice costs. When health care-related savings are factored in, those savings are multiplied. Pre-arrest diversion provides law enforcement with an effective alternative through referral to community-based interventions, rather than arrest and the accompanying collateral consequences.

“The front door of the criminal justice system is the most dangerous door a person can pass through,” said Greg Frost, president of the Civil Citation Network and co-founder of PTACC. “A simple case of bad judgment, criminal behavior due to drug use or an emerging mental illness that results in arrest, is life-changing. In fact, research shows that arrest, even for a first-time, non-violent misdemeanor, can start a downward cycle that jeopardizes future employment, eliminates education opportunities, reduces access to housing, destroys families, and contributes to additional criminal activity.”

An estimated two million out of the almost 11 million jail admissions each year are for people with serious mental illness (SMI). Nearly three-quarters of these individuals also have a co-occurring substance use disorder (SUD). This population often has contact with the criminal justice system out of situations that arise from their SUD and/or SMI and generally involve minor quality of life or nuisance crimes. Incarceration of individuals with SUD and/or MI often exacerbates their underlying disorder, impeding their recovery, and increasing their likelihood of recidivism – a detriment to both the individual and the community. Use of early diversion programs for these individuals would keep them from entering the justice system and ensure linkage to crucial treatment and recovery support services.

“When providing treatment services to those in need, we are more effective when we work collaboratively with law enforcement, housing, and other social service agencies. Our real ‘job’ is to create a culture that supports breaking through all barriers and focusing our collective efforts into ‘building bridges’ for the men, women, and families we serve,” said Leslie Balonick, vice president of business and program development for the Westcare Foundation, and PTACC Leader.

Contact Jac Charlier or visit the PTAC Collaborative for more information.

 

 

2018 Recovery Month PSAs, Toolkit Now Available

(Chicago) – The 2018 National Recovery Month toolkit is now available online, offering resources to help increase awareness and understanding of recovery from substance use and mental health disorders and celebrate people living in recovery.

Observed each September and sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), National Recovery Month––of which TASC is a national Planning Partner––highlights achievements of individuals who have reclaimed their lives in long-term recovery, and also recognizes the treatment and recovery service providers who offer pathways to recovery.

The 2018 National Recovery Month theme is Join the Voices for Recovery: Invest in Health, Home, Purpose, and Community.

SAMHSA annually creates a Recovery Month toolkit, which provides outreach templates, tips for event planning and community outreach, information and data on behavioral health conditions, and resources for prevention, treatment, and recovery support services. The toolkit and PSAs can be used to organize events, issue proclamations, and increase public awareness.

The online toolkit also offers dozens of video and audio public service announcements (PSAs), including new PSAs in 2018 entitled r is for Recovery and Voices for Recovery. The PSAs are available in both English and Spanish, and are offered in both 20-second and 30-second versions.

To help celebrate recovery and elevate awareness of its prevalence across the country, organizations and advocates are encouraged to post and promote Recovery Month events on the National Recovery Month website.

 

 

Webinar Delivers Opioid Screening and Assessment Solutions for Law Enforcement, Justice Practitioners

(Chicago) — More than 1,300 people across the country registered for a July 10 webinar offering solutions for law enforcement and justice system partners on the front lines of responding to the national opioid epidemic.

Moderated by Allison Upton, senior policy analyst at the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center, and hosted by CSG’s National Reentry Resource Center, the webinar, entitled “Opioid Addiction Screening and Assessment for People in the Criminal Justice System,” focuses on best practices for screening and assessing people who have opioid addictions and are in, or at risk of entering, the criminal justice system.

The webinar features a review of available screening instruments and how police and other justice practitioners and first responders can select tools and strategies that work best for their programs and jurisdictions.

Opening remarks were offered by Upton and Andre Bethea, policy advisor for corrections at the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, which provided funding support for the webinar. Speakers on screening tools and intervention strategies included Roger Peters, PhD, clinical psychologist and professor in the Department of Mental Health Law and Policy at the University of South Florida, as well as Jac Charlier and Phillip Barbour of the Center for Health and Justice (CHJ) at TASC.

“The tremendous interest in the webinar and these tools speaks to the interest in screening and opioids right now, as law enforcement, justice partners, researchers, behavioral health experts, and community leaders are all coming together to find ways to save lives,” said Charlier, national director for justice initiatives at CHJ. “Screening tools are one of the quickest and easiest ways to identify people who need help right away.”

Peters offered an overview of the need for screening and assessment tools, including the high rates of opioid use disorders and the prevalence of co-occurring mental disorders. In terms of screening, there are a number of specific considerations for opioid addiction, which may include such factors as severity of withdrawal, interactions with alcohol and other drugs, the individual’s overdose history, mental health and medical issues, prior injuries and use of pain medication, risk-taking behavior, criminal justice and/or child welfare system involvement, functional aspects of use, family history, and individual strengths and skills.

Given the urgency of the epidemic and the complexity of issues around opioid addiction, he noted that there are many implications for staff training in signs and symptoms of use as well as withdrawal.

“The good news is we have a wide variety of screening and assessment instruments that are available,” said Peters. “Many of them are free-of-charge, non-proprietary instruments, and these include screens for opioid use withdrawal.”

Barbour, master trainer at CHJ, discussed the development and use of the TCU Drug Screen 5 – Opioid Supplement, co-developed by CHJ with Dr. Kevin Knight and Dr. Patrick Flynn of the TCU Institute of Behavioral Research. The free tool can help determine earlier in the screening and referral process if there is an immediate need for services to address opioid use problems.

“The TCU Drug Screen 5 screens for mild to severe substance use disorders, and is particularly useful when determining placement and level of care in a very quick way,” said Barbour. As a practical resource to help determine who needs immediate access to treatment, “it helps first responders and non-clinical personnel to implement a simpler, faster way to identify people in need of intervention for opioid addiction,” he said.

“There are pathways, or frameworks, that help us understand what this newly emerging field of pre-arrest diversion looks like,” added Charlier. He described five pathways in which first responders, and particularly law enforcement, are connecting to substance use treatment and behavioral health services in communities, such as the Naloxone Plus model, a pre-arrest diversion model that rapidly connects people to treatment after an overdose.

Rather than seeking to replicate a single program model to respond to opioid addiction, Charlier advised, jurisdictions are better served by responding to the problem as well as resources specific to their communities, and seek to “solve that problem by putting the pathways together in the combination that works for your jurisdiction, based on the resources you have, the leadership you have within your police/treatment/community settings, and other factors like your recovery community, time to treatment—all these pathways and frameworks have different combinations, different ‘recipes,’ if you will, that are needed to make them go.”

TASC’s Center for Health and Justice is the national training partner for TCU’s Institute of Behavioral Research, including training on the TCU Drug Screen 5 – Opioid Supplement. For training on the opioid supplement and other TCU resources, or for other resources for law enforcement and justice systems in responding to the opioid epidemic, contact Jac Charlier, national director for justice initiatives at CHJ.