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.

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

June 26 is International Day Against Drug Abuse; TASC Hosts Caribbean Delegation Visit of Model Justice Interventions

(Chicago) — To promote an international society free of drug abuse, June 26 is designated by the United Nations General Assembly as the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. As an active partner with national and international bodies committed to reducing substance use disorders and their consequences, TASC has been recognized as a model for advancing collaborative strategies to divert people with substance use disorders away from the justice system and into treatment and recovery in the community.

Most recently, in collaboration with criminal justice partners in Cook County, TASC hosted a delegation of high-level justice and health officials from Guyana, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, and Jamaica, who visited Chicago June 11-12 to explore innovative practices in implementing alternatives to incarceration.

Organized by the Organization of American States (OAS) with the support of the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of International Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) and the Canadian Anti-Crime Capacity Building Program (ACCBP), the visit offered a unique opportunity for delegates to converse directly with leaders in Cook County (encompassing Chicago) who implement justice diversion practices.

As part of the OAS, the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) provides technical assistance to OAS member states in the implementation of alternatives to incarceration. For the June visit, CICAD partnered in Chicago with TASC, and in New York with the Center for Court Innovation (CCI), both of which have earned recognition for designing, implementing, and promoting alternatives to incarceration.

In Cook County, the formal visit featured meetings with several justice leaders and dignitaries, including segments at the Cook County Jail with Sheriff Tom Dart; at the Cook County Criminal Courts Building with Presiding Judge of the Criminal Division LeRoy K. Martin Jr., Associate Judge James B. Linn, and Cook County Public Defender Amy Campanelli; and at the Chicago Police Department with 11th District Commander Kevin Johnson. The delegation also visited TASC’s Supportive Release Center near the jail, which offers an overnight stay and linkage to services for individuals with complex needs, and later met U.S. Congressman Danny K. Davis (D-IL), champion of the landmark Second Chance Act.

Throughout the two-day visit to Cook County, discussions focused on diversion strategies, including care coordination and embedded case management, that guide men and women who have substance use disorders away from the justice system and into community-based treatment.

“Because TASC is baked into the criminal justice system in Illinois, the justice system presents a more human face—with a focus on the individual—and promotes public health and human rights,” said Ambassador Adam Namm, Executive Secretary of the of the OAS, who led the Caribbean delegation. “That is exactly what the OAS promotes as an organization. So there’s great synergy.”

“We are grateful to the support of the U.S. State Department’s INL, to OAS/CICAD, and to Global Affairs Canada for making important international exchanges like this possible,” said TASC President Pam Rodriguez. “With thanks to our justice system partners, Cook County continues to be a model nationally and internationally, and we are glad to be able to help show the value and breadth of these collaborative efforts.”

For more than two decades, TASC has worked with federal and international partners to promote community-based systems of addiction recovery around the world. Among these activities, and through the leadership and support of INL, TASC has offered curriculum development and week-long training events provided by TASC teams in South Africa, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.

In addition, TASC is a member organization of the Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs, comprised of some 200 organizations from across the globe who are engaged in service delivery, advocacy, research, and evaluation at international, regional, and national levels. The VNGOC provides a link between non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the Vienna-based agencies involved in setting drug policy: the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND), the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Working together with local, national, and international partners, TASC is committed to shared goals of reducing substance use disorders and their consequences worldwide.

June 2018: TASC leaders welcomed OAS/CICAD delegation from Guyana, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, and Jamaica.

Ambassador Adam Namm, Executive Secretary of the OAS, led the Caribbean delegation visit to TASC and alternative-to-incarceration programs in Cook County, Illinois.

TASC President Pam Rodriguez welcomed OAS/CICAD delegates and presented a breadth of program and policy opportunities available to implement criminal justice diversion programs.

Illinois Mental Health Parity Bill Passes House, Moves to Senate

(Springfield) — Illinois Senate Bill 1707, described by the Kennedy Forum Illinois as “the strongest mental health parity law in the nation,” passed the House on May 30 with a 106-9 vote. Sponsored by House Deputy Majority Leader Lou Lang, the bill strengthens parity law, increasing compliance and access to treatment, so that health insurance plans cover mental illness and addictions on par with other medical conditions.

TASC is part of a broad coalition of support for the legislation, which now moves to the Senate for concurrence. Senator Kwame Raoul is the bill’s lead sponsor in the Senate.


With thanks for permission to share, below is the May 30 news release from the Kennedy Forum Illinois:

Illinois families and individuals struggling with mental health and addiction challenges won hard-fought victory for better access to services today. On a strong bipartisan vote of 106-9, the Illinois House of Representatives just passed Senate Bill 1707 – the strongest mental health parity law in the nation. The bill now goes onto the Senate for a vote, possibly as soon as today.

SB1707 is the result of a multi-year Kennedy Forum Illinois campaign to improve parity law enforcement so that people with mental health and addiction challenges can access the treatment they need as required by state and federal law. As part of this campaign, The Kennedy Forum Illinois convened an Illinois Parity Implementation Workgroup with nearly 30 member organizations and spearheaded an Illinois provider survey on the frequency of mental health and addiction treatment denials with key partners.

These efforts resulted in numerous media articles on the damage that mental health and addiction coverage discrimination causes, as well as two House Mental Health Committee hearings on parity, including one on how inadequate parity compliance is helping to fuel our state’s ongoing opioid epidemic, which continues to worsen and killed 2,100 last year.

Specifically, this landmark legislation:

  • Tackles the Opioid Crisis by expanding access to life-saving addiction treatment.

    • The bill prohibits prior authorization and step-therapy requirements for FDA-approved medications to treat substance use disorders;

    • Requires generic FDA-approved medications for substance use disorders to be on lowest-tier of prescription formularies, with branded medications on the lowest tier for branded medications;

    • Prohibits exclusions of prescription coverage and related support services for substance use disorder because they are court ordered, and

    • Requires state regulators to actively ensure plan compliance with parity law utilizing information provided by plans/MCOs and through independent oversight.

  • Increases transparency by requiring health plans to submit parity compliance analyses to the Illinois Dept. of Insurance and the Illinois Dept. of Healthcare and Family Services that align with The Kennedy Forum’s six-step process that shows compliance with federal parity rules and requires plans/MCOs to make parity compliance information available to DOI, HFS, and to individuals via a public website.

  • Improves parity enforcement by requiring the Departments to conduct market conduct examinations/parity compliance audits and report on their enforcement activities annually to the General Assembly and requires the Illinois Auditor General to review implementation state parity law and report to the General Assembly.

  • Closes a loophole in state law that allowed school district health plans to discriminate against mental health and addiction coverage.

By improving accountability and transparency, this legislation will increase parity compliance and access to needed treatment. While there remains much work left to do to end coverage discrimination, SB1707 represents a major milestone not just in Illinois, but the country as a whole.

The Kennedy Forum Illinois thanks Rep. Lou Lang for his tireless leadership on mental health and addiction parity, as well as the Illinois Association for Behavioral Health for its partnership in helping to advance this important legislation. Many thanks also to our numerous partners* for their steadfast support.

*Thank You Supporters and Coalition Members!
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, American Nurses Association-Illinois, American Psychiatric Association, Chicago Urban League, Community Behavioral Healthcare Association, Depression & Bipolar Support Alliance, Family Guidance Centers, Gateway Foundation, Health & Medicine Policy Research Group, IARF, Illinois Association for Behavioral Health, Illinois Collaboration on Youth, Illinois State Medical Society, Illinois Society for Advanced Practice Nursing, Illinois Psychiatric Society, Live4Lali, NAMI Barrington Area, NAMI Chicago, NAMI Illinois, Rosecrance, Safer Foundation, Smart Policy Works, Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, TASC, Thresholds


May 3 Twitter Chat: #RecoveryNotArrest

(Chicago) – TASC and its Center for Health and Justice – @TASC-CHJ on Twitter – will participate in a May 3 twitter chat hosted by the Pretrial Justice Institute to discuss the role of behavioral health in pretrial justice.

From 1-2 PM Central time (2-3 PM Eastern), participants will discuss the intersection of pre-arrest diversion and pretrial justice, including how justice partners and behavioral health service providers can collaborate to divert people with substance use and mental health conditions into treatment in the community.

The hashtag for the conversation is #RecoveryNotArrest.

TASC and its Center for Health and Justice have been working closely with PJI, the Police, Treatment, and Community Collaborative (PTAC Collaborative), and partners across the country to advance pre-arrest diversion as a means to help reduce drug use and overdose deaths, improve public safety, reduce incarceration and its collateral consequences, and improve relations between law enforcement and communities.

For example, Illinois Senate Bill 3023 proposes to create the Community-Law Enforcement Partnership for Deflection and Substance Use Disorder Treatment Act, authorizing and encouraging local law enforcement leaders to partner with treatment and community members on programs that “deflect” individuals who have overdosed or who have substance use problems away from the justice system and into addiction treatment services. Championed in the Illinois State Senate by Chief Sponsor Sen. Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) and Co-Chief Sponsor Sen. Tim Bivins (R-Dixon), and in the State House by Chief Sponsor Rep. Marcus Evans, Jr. (D-Chicago), the bill is a joint initiative of the Dixon Police Department, the Mundelein Police Department, and TASC, and currently has more than 140 proponents, including more than 85 police departments and law enforcement associations across the state.

Hosted by the Pretrial Justice Institute, participants in the May 3 #RecoveryNotArrest Twitter chat include the partners above, among many others.

 

 

Senate Panel OKs Bush Bill to Give Police, Communities “Road Map” to Fight Opioid Crisis

(Grayslake, IL) – An Illinois Senate panel has approved a bipartisan plan that authorizes local police departments and community partners to develop local strategies to fight the Illinois opioid crisis.

The Senate Human Services Committee on April 10 voted 8-0 to advance legislation, Senate Bill 3023, that encourages local law enforcement to “deflect” from criminal arrest individuals who have overdosed or who have substance use problems, directing them instead into substance use disorder treatment.

The “Community-Law Enforcement Partnership for Deflection and Substance Use Disorder Treatment Act,” which is sponsored by State Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) and State Senator Tim Bivins (R-Dixon), provides a “roadmap” for partnerships between law enforcement, substance use treatment providers, and community members to guide the development of deflection programs in their communities, according to one of the bill’s chief proponents.

“Traditionally, local police have had two choices when faced with someone who they believe may have a substance use disorder—to arrest or to not arrest,” said Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities (TASC) President Pam Rodriguez. “With the opioid crisis raging across the state, deflection provides a third option, to connect people with community-based substance use treatment services that address their underlying substance use problems. This bill lays out a roadmap to municipalities, offering guidance, program features, and a range of options.”

The number of Illinois overdose deaths from all opioids increased by 82% from 2013 to 2016.

The bill, which is also an initiative of the Village of Mundelein’s police chief and director of public safety, Eric Guenther, and the City of Dixon’s former police chief and current city manager, Danny Langloss, ensures that the impact of the programs is measured by requiring the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority (ICJIA) to lead the development of a set of minimum data to be collected and, for programs that receive funding, serve as a performance measurement system. Mundelein and Dixon’s police departments already operate deflection programs.

“The data collection provisions also provide a platform for ensuring that the racial disparities present in the criminal justice system can be prevented in deflection programs as they develop,” said Rodriguez. “The data collection and analysis are a crucial component.”

At the Senate committee hearing, a diverse group of 157 proponents filed their support for the legislation, including the League of Women Voters of Illinois, Illinois State University Police, the Illinois State Medical Society, the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, Illinois State’s Attorneys Association, the Chicago Urban League, and the City of Chicago Heights, among others.

Rodriguez also expressed her appreciation of the bipartisan leadership of Senators Bush and Bivins.

“We must recognize the bipartisan leadership of Senator Bush and Senator Bivins for advancing this legislation and their commitment to fighting the opioid scourge in Illinois,” said Rodriguez. “Because of them, Illinois is the first state in the nation to consider deflection legislation this comprehensive.”

The bill now faces the full Senate.