Charlier Named Head of TASC’s Center for Health and Justice

(Chicago) Jac Charlier has been named executive director of the Center for Health and Justice at TASC (Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities).

The Center (CHJ) helps justice and healthcare systems reduce crime and improve community health by diverting eligible people who have substance use and mental health conditions into community-based treatment and recovery.

As drug overdose deaths across the country have skyrocketed, Charlier is a leading voice in the emerging national movement toward pre-arrest diversion or “deflection” as standard practice, whereby law enforcement officers will, whenever appropriate, deflect people with behavioral health issues to treatment in the community.

TASC has a 40-year history of providing alternatives to incarceration and connecting justice systems to substance use and mental health treatment in the community. CHJ was established by TASC in 2006, bringing forth lessons from research and TASC’s direct experience accessing treatment and annually case managing thousands of individuals involved in Illinois courts and corrections systems.

Providing consultation and public policy solutions at local, state, federal, and international levels, some of the Center’s recent accomplishments include:

Based on the scope and success of Center’s work under Charlier’s leadership, who joined TASC in 2011, he becomes CHJ’s first full-time executive director.

“Nationally and locally, Jac has catapulted the conversation of deflection as a first response,” said TASC President Pam Rodriguez. “His experience in community corrections, his understanding of the importance of local solutions to solve local problems, and his ability to see the big picture as well as commonalities among jurisdictions, all have enabled him to successfully build coalitions that work toward common goals.”

Jac Charlier, Executive Director, TASC Center for Health and Justice

In 2017, Charlier co-founded the national Police, Treatment and Community Collaborative (PTACC), where he has led the development of frameworks for preventing and reducing opioid overdose and death among justice populations, as well as community-based post-overdose response strategies for law enforcement.

“Working in partnership with prominent leaders in justice, research, community, and treatment, TASC’s Center for Health and Justice continues to be relentlessly focused on creating the next generation of crime reduction solutions that lie at the intersection of the criminal justice and behavioral health,” said Charlier. “This means connecting people to treatment, understanding the research and science, staying close to the community, recognizing and addressing racial disparities, and always remembering the urgency and purpose of our work, especially for those who have been victims of crime.”

Prior to joining TASC, Charlier worked for 16 years with the Parole Division of the Illinois Department of Corrections, beginning as a street parole officer, and rising to deputy chief of parole, where he led system-wide parole operations for the Chicago metropolitan area.

Advertisements

TASC 2018 Luncheon to Honor Leaders in Justice System Diversion

(Chicago) — TASC’s 2018 Leadership Awards Luncheon will recognize experts who are forging new solutions in stopping cycles of justice system involvement before they begin.

Former Cook County Jail Executive Director Dr. Nneka Tapia, Mundelein Police Chief Eric Guenther, and Dixon City Manager and former Police Chief Danny Langloss each will receive awards for their public health-informed approaches to criminal justice.

Dr. Nneka Tapia, TASC 2018 Public Voice Leadership Award Honoree

TASC’s Public Voice Leadership Award will be presented to Dr. Tapia, whose singular expertise as both a psychologist and corrections executive has made her a recognized and passionate advocate for mental wellness, criminal justice reform, and interventions for youth. In her eleven years of service and leadership within the Cook County Jail, including three as executive director, she advanced groundbreaking strategies to promote health and reduce recidivism, including the Cook County Mental Health Transition Center and TASC’s Supportive Release Center. These innovations help jail detainees who are experiencing poverty, substance use disorders, and mental health conditions to transition successfully to services and well-being in the community. Earlier this year, Dr. Tapia became the inaugural Leader in Residence at Chicago Beyond, with a focus on young people exposed to trauma and those whose parents have been incarcerated.

Danny Langloss, TASC 2018 Justice Leadership Award Honoree

TASC’s Justice Leadership Award will be presented to Guenther and Langloss, who have been pivotal in reshaping how law enforcement officers respond when they encounter individuals who have overdosed or have substance use problems. Instead of arresting people or ignoring the situation, officers can offer deflection to treatment programs. In Dixon and Lee counties, Langloss launched the Safe Passage program, whereby those addicted to opioids and other drugs can walk into the police department and get connected to the help they need in the community.

Eric Guenther, TASC 2018 Justice Leadership Award Honoree

Likewise in Lake County, Chief Guenther co-created the A Way Out program and is an instrumental partner in the Lake County Opioid Initiative, which similarly offer avenues to treatment without fear of arrest. Together with TASC in 2018, Guenther and Langloss spearheaded the recently signed Senate Bill 3023, which authorizes and encourages the implementation of such programs across Illinois. Through their expertise, compassion, and leadership, Guenther and Langloss are advancing standard law enforcement practices for fighting addiction.

“Together, our three honorees represent part of a national movement toward recognizing that the justice system should not be the first place where people get help for substance use or mental health challenges,” said TASC President Pam Rodriguez. “Individuals can be diverted into treatment before arrest, and for those who are arrested, reentry with connections to care is essential.

“We are excited to recognize leaders whose initiatives are not only preventing and breaking cycles of incarceration here in Illinois, but whose successes are having an impact across the country,” she added.

TASC’s 2018 Leadership Awards Luncheon will take place at the Westin Michigan Avenue Chicago on Wednesday, December 12 from 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM. Registration is requested by November 28. To reserve tickets, please click here.

For sponsorship opportunities or more information, please contact Nitza Reyes-Rodriguez at 312-573-8201.

In Illinois, People with Criminal Records May Register and Vote

(Chicago) – With Election Day approaching on November 6, states across the country have differing laws on the voting rights of people with criminal records.

Illinois citizens with a criminal record have the right to vote, as long as they are not serving time in jail or prison. Those being held in jail without having been convicted also have the right to vote.

Although Illinois citizens who have been convicted of a crime are not allowed to vote while incarcerated, they automatically regain their right to vote following release. Men and women who have criminal records and are living in the community, including those on probation or parole, retain the right to vote.

“In Illinois, if you’ve been arrested or incarcerated, that doesn’t mean you can’t vote,” said TASC Policy Director Laura Brookes.

Even after regular voter registration deadlines have passed (28 days prior to Election Day), Illinois law allows “grace period” registration and voting all the way up to and through Election Day. The Illinois State Board of Elections maintains a list of grace period registration/voting locations. The Cook County Clerk’s office maintains a similar list, as do other local county clerk’s offices.

Varying Laws across the US

Across the country, laws that restrict the voting rights of people with criminal records vary from state to state. According to The Sentencing Project, “an estimated 6.1 million people are disenfranchised due to a felony conviction, a figure that has escalated dramatically in recent decades as the population under criminal justice supervision has increased.”

Only two states, Maine and Vermont, do not restrict voting rights based on convictions or incarceration. Thirty states deny voting rights to people on felony probation, and 34 states do not allow people to vote while on felony parole. Twelve states continue to deny voting rights to some or all people who have successfully fulfilled prison, parole, or probation sentences. In Florida, for example, individuals must wait five to seven years after a sentence has been completed, including parole and probation time, before they can apply to have their voting rights restored. Additionally, the application, once submitted, can take years to process.

Many advocacy groups have called for changes to laws that disenfranchise voters. One of the demands of the recent country-wide prison strike included restoration of voting rights to all confined citizens, as well as those who have served their sentences. “Prisoners are beginning to coalesce around the push to regain the vote as a means of forwarding the cause of prison reform,” reported The Guardian.

As criminal justice reforms have swept across the country, voting rights of people with criminal records are among the policy changes being considered. Florida, for example, will vote in November on whether to restore voting rights to people with prior felony convictions who have served their time.

Reforms in Illinois

There are efforts underway in Illinois, too, to protect voting rights for individuals with justice system involvement. This past spring, the Illinois legislature approved House Bill 4469 that would have “allowed an opportunity for eligible persons detained pre-trial to vote, and provide those leaving Illinois jails and prisons with information on voting rights for individuals living with records, including the basic knowledge that in Illinois, eligible citizens have their voting rights restored upon release,” according to ACLU Illinois. In August 2018, however, the Governor issued an amendatory veto on the bill, striking portions of it. To prevent the bill from dying altogether, the legislature will have to either vote with a three-fifths majority in each chamber to override the veto or with a simple majority to accept the amendment.

One local group, Chicago Votes, has gained national attention for its program within the Cook County Jail. Sanctioned by Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, volunteers visit the jail and register people to vote. As of August 2018, over 1,800 individuals had been registered as a result of their work.

“Just because we’re in jail doesn’t define me or who I am,” said one of the individuals interviewed. “I’m still a human being, and I still have an opinion. I still would like to be heard in some type of way, especially a positive way, even with me being in the place that I’m in.”

For more information about registering and voting, download this flyer or see the Illinois State Board of Elections website or pamphlet.

State Capitol Building, Springfield, IL

“Deflection” Grants Available to Illinois Law Enforcement-Community Partnerships, Proposals Due October 25, 2018

(Chicago) — New state funding is available to law enforcement working to divert people away from arrest and jail and into drug treatment programs. With $500,000 available, the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority (ICJIA) is now accepting grant proposals to support deflection initiatives in Illinois communities. Proposals are due October 25.

In August, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed SB 3023, groundbreaking legislation that gives police and communities a valuable tool to use in responding to drug use and addiction. The Community-Law Enforcement Partnership for Deflection and Substance Use Disorder Treatment Act provides a roadmap for local law enforcement leaders to create collaborative programs that “deflect” individuals with substance use conditions away from the criminal justice system and into community-based treatment services. The Act authorized funding to support deflection program development.

“This funding demonstrates the strong commitment of the bill’s sponsors and the Governor to supporting police and communities as they work to help people gain immediate access to the substance use treatment they need,” said Laura Brookes, TASC policy director.

Law enforcement agencies are eligible to apply for awards of $20,000–$80,000 for use over a six-month period during the state’s current fiscal year (January 1–June 30, 2019). They must work in collaboration with one or more treatment providers and community members to establish a local deflection program, and develop a plan to coordinate program activities with community agencies, including substance use treatment providers, medical providers, supportive services, and relevant government agencies. Based on program performance and fund availability, ICJIA may recommend allocation of funding to support programming for an additional 12 months.

Applicants may request funds in one or more of five program model categories, based on local needs and resources:

  • Post-Overdose Response
  • Self-Referral Response
  • Active Outreach Response
  • Community Engagement Response
  • Officer Intervention Response

These five categories align with the overarching “pathways” by which police departments across the country are connecting people to community-based treatment and social services in emerging deflection programs, as identified last year by TASC’s Center for Health and Justice, and subsequently illustrated by the Police, Treatment, and Community Collaborative (PTACC), a national alliance of practitioners in law enforcement, behavioral health, community, advocacy, research, and public policy working to strategically widen  community behavioral health and social service options available through law enforcement diversion.

To learn more about how TASC may be able to assist with your community’s deflection efforts, contact Jac Charlier, executive director of TASC’s Center for Health and Justice and co-founder of PTACC.

 

New Winners’ Circle in Bloomington; Replicating the Model Nationally

(Chicago) — On November 6, a new Winners’ Circle will begin in Bloomington, IL. Winners’ Circles are peer-led support groups for people in recovery from alcohol or drug addiction and who also have been on probation or incarcerated.

The trauma of incarceration, stigma of a criminal record, and associated collateral consequences (such as barriers to housing and employment) create specials needs and challenges for formerly incarcerated people who are in recovery. Winners’ Circles help address these unique needs by offering safe, positive, non-judgmental places where participants can develop healthy lifestyles and share support, encouragement, and success with others at similar places in their lives. Related groups, called Inner Circles, provide this same support to individuals who are incarcerated.

“The goal of the Winners’ Circle is to fill a void as people reenter their communities after they’ve been incarcerated,” said Millicent Lewis McCoy, director of corrections transition programs at TASC. “Winners’ Circles help participants build a strong network to support them in living a substance- and crime-free life.”

The Bloomington Winners’ Circle will meet on Tuesdays 5PM to 6PM, beginning November 6. Sessions will be held at the Family Community Resource Center, 509 W. Washington St., Bloomington, IL. Family members and friends are welcome.

A Nationally Replicated Model of Peer Support

Originally established in Connecticut in 1988, the Winners’ Circle model has since been replicated in several states. Each Winners’ Circle is designed to be independent and self-sustaining. In Illinois, TASC helps guide the development of Winners’ Circles by providing training for Winners’ Circle leaders, and by working with community partners to establish locations for meetings.

While facilitating the growth of Winners’ Circles in Illinois, TASC also provides information and training to support their development in other states.

In June, justice stakeholders from Columbus, IN, came to Chicago to meet with TASC to learn more about Winners’ Circles. Rob Gaskill, director of residential services for Bartholomew (IN) County Jail, county jail staff, and graduates of the county’s women’s reentry program—WRAP (Women Recovering with A Purpose)—observed both Winners’ Circle and Inner Circle meetings. Inspired by what they learned and observed, they are now creating a Winners’ Circle in their community.

“It’s gratifying to see Winners’ Circle spread to many communities,” said Toy Beasley, recovery support coordinator at TASC. “These groups provide support, hope, and healing that people might not be able to get elsewhere in their lives.

“When people have lost hope, Winners’ Circle can help them find it.”

To find out more about Winners’ Circles in Illinois, please contact Toy Beasley at tbeasley@tasc.org or 309-868-0681, or at TASC’s toll-free number: 855-827-2444.

To learn about training opportunities for Winners’ Circle facilitators outside of Illinois, contact Phillip Barbour, TASC master trainer.

Left to right: Jessica Olson, WRAP; Leslie Harden, WRAP; Angela Smith, Bartholomew County Community Corrections; Maria Sandoval, WRAP; Bethany Peetz, Bartholomew Community Corrections; Deborah Shannon, WRAP; Geri Lynne Cooper, Winners’ Circle Illinois; Rob Gaskill, Bartholomew County Community Corrections