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.

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“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.

 

Supporting International Efforts to Prevent Overdose and Treat Substance Use Disorders

(Chicago) – TASC’s work in Illinois is helping to inform international strategies to save lives and divert people with substance use disorders away from the justice system and into community-based treatment.

On August 20, TASC hosted visiting dignitaries from the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) for discussions on criminal justice responses to the opioid crisis and alternatives to incarceration, based on the recognition that international supply reduction strategies can inform and support, and be supported by, local efforts across the country.

INL helps countries across the globe strengthen their criminal justice systems in order to reduce the entry of illegal drugs and crime in the U.S.

INL Deputy Assistant Secretary James A. Walsh and Michele Greenstein, acting director of INL’s Office of Criminal Justice and Assistance Partnership (CAP), were welcomed by TASC President Pam Rodriguez, who facilitated a roundtable discussion with local criminal justice leaders, including Judge LeRoy Martin, presiding judge of the Criminal Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, Cook County Public Defender Amy Campanelli, Cook County Circuit Judge Charles P. Burns, Judge Lawrence Fox, director of specialty courts for Cook County, and Chief Eric Guenther of the Mundelein Police Department. Leaders presented a continuum of criminal justice diversion strategies and alternatives to incarceration that exist in Cook and Lake counties for people who have substance use disorders.

Following the roundtable discussion, Walsh and Greenstein visited TASC’s Supportive Release Center, meeting with TASC staff as well as Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, whose website offers information on array of resources on overdose prevention and recovery.

“We are grateful and proud to be able to show our collective work in Illinois, knowing that lessons learned here can benefit other nations across the globe,” said Rodriguez. “We also recognize that much work lies ahead in continuing to reduce the numbers of people entering the justice system, and in increasing treatment and recovery options for people and communities affected by substance use disorders.”

Today, communities across the globe are recognizing International Overdose Awareness Day, observed annually on August 31 to raise awareness around overdose prevention, reduce the stigma of a drug-related death, and acknowledge the grief felt by families and friends who have lost loved ones to drug overdose.

INL dignitaries and Sheriff Dart at TASC Supportive Release Center, August 20, 2018. (l. to r.) Michele Greenstein, INL; Alicia Osborne, TASC; INL Deputy Assistant Secretary James Walsh; Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart; Dr. Jane Gubser, Cook County Dept. of Corrections; Joe Ryan, Cook County Sheriff’s Dept.; Robin Moore, TASC.

 

Governor Rauner, Illinois Lawmakers Weigh in on New Pre-Arrest Diversion Legislation

(Chicago) — Illinois lawmakers weighed in on the significance of Senate Bill 3023, signed on Wednesday by Governor Bruce Rauner. The first state legislation to authorize a comprehensive array of pre-arrest diversion program approaches, it supports law enforcement officers in creating handoffs to community-based treatment when they see people who have overdosed or are showing other signs of substance use disorder.

“Our police officers want to help us solve the problem, not just punish people,” said Rauner. “This effort builds community and allows our law enforcement and peace officers a way to give people help instead of a criminal record.”

The legislation supports “deflection” of individuals with substance use problems away from the justice system and into addiction treatment services. Traditionally, law enforcement has been faced with two options: arrest or walk away. Deflection provides a third option: connecting people to treatment and/or other social supports.

Chief sponsors Senator Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake), Senator Tim Bivins (R-Dixon) Representative Marcus C. Evans, Jr. (D-Chicago) and Representative Tom Demmer (R-Rochelle) spoke of its significance.

“We know the factors involved with treating mental health and substance abuse are multilayered and complex,” said Bush. “Early detection is key, as both issues can manifest into a lifetime of challenges if left untreated.”

“Substance abuse contributes to crime, hurts Illinois families and deteriorates communities,” said Evans. “Our Illinois law enforcement and human services leaders understand this reality, and I applaud their support of a solution in the form of SB 3023. I am happy to see this community- and family-improving idea become law.”

The bill originated based on the successes of the Safe Passage program in Dixon and A Way Out in Lake County, Illinois.

Demmer, whose district includes Dixon, lauded the role of the Safe Passage program as a model for the legislation. “Dixon has had great success with 215 people placed directly into treatment over incarceration,” he said. “This has resulted in a 39 percent reduction in arrests for drug crimes, as well as properly deflecting people to get the medically driven substance abuse help they need instead of making it difficult for them to get help because of a criminal record.”

“This new law focuses on preventive measures in dealing with the opioid crisis and other substance abuse issues,” said Sen. Tim Bivins (R-Dixon). “It partners law enforcement agencies with licensed substance abuse service providers to treat individuals with substance abuse problems before they are arrested. Getting these individuals help before they enter the jail system will make it easier for them to resume their daily routines later without a criminal record, and will reduce the burden on local jail and court systems.”

“Deflection programs provide police officers with another option when dealing with someone they believe may have opioid or other substance abuse problems,” said Sen. Dan McConchie (R-Hawthorn Woods), who also sponsored the bill. “Continuously arresting and locking up such troubled individuals rarely fixes their underlying issue. It is my hope that with these deflection programs, we can get people the treatment and help they need to get better.”

Advancing Pre-Arrest Diversion in Illinois and Nationally

Leaders of the Safe Passage and A Way Out initiatives — Dixon City Manager and former Police Chief Danny Langloss and Police Chief Eric Guenther of Mundelein in Lake County, respectively — worked with TASC to spearhead the legislation.

“Senate Bill 3023 is the first of its kind legislation and recognizes a paradigm shift in law enforcement’s approach to those who struggle with substance use,” said Guenther. “I am very proud to have been a part of creating this legislation.”

“This is a hopeful day for Illinois law enforcement and those suffering from substance use disorder,” said Langloss. “The national opioid epidemic continues to impact every community. More than 72,000 Americans lost their lives last year to drug overdose. Behind every death there is a family. With this bill, the police now have new programs at their disposal that save lives and make our communities safer.

“We saw the successes of Chiefs Guenther and Langloss as meaningful and timely, and we wanted to help bring these opportunities for treatment to residents across the state,” said TASC President Pam Rodriguez. “From our work in the justice system, from police to parole and all points between, we’ve seen that public policy can serve as a launching pad for significant progress. This legislation is an example of that.”

As police departments across the country began developing programs in response to the opioid crisis at an increasing pace, TASC’s Center for Health and Justice identified five overarching pathways by which law enforcement was diverting or “deflecting” people away from arrest and into treatment, housing, and social supports in the community. Building from this work, Jac Charlier, national director for justice initiatives at TASC, co-founded 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.

PTACC has illustrated these five pathways by which police departments are making connections to community-based treatment and social services; law enforcement and community partners can choose any or all of these pathways based on local needs and resources.

“Based on TASC’s and PTACC’s work identifying, communicating, and shaping deflection concepts and strategies nationally, it’s gratifying to see my home state of Illinois take the lead in shaping this public policy,” said Charlier. “We are seeding a national movement for the newly emerging field of deflection and pre-arrest diversion, which promises to reshape the relationship between law enforcement, behavioral health, and our communities to better respond to people with serious mental illness, save lives in the opioid epidemic, make our neighborhoods safer by reducing crime, and allowing police to better focus their resources on crime fighting.”

Governor Signs Illinois Law Enforcement Diversion Bill, First of Its Kind in the Nation

(Springfield) – Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed groundbreaking legislation on Wednesday that authorizes local law enforcement leaders and community partners to create local programs that “deflect” individuals who have substance use problems away from the justice system and into addiction treatment services.

Senate Bill 3023, also known as the Community-Law Enforcement Partnership for Deflection and Substance Use Disorder Treatment Act, sponsored by Senators Melinda Bush (D-Grayslake) and Tim Bivins (R-Dixon) and Representatives Marcus C. Evans, Jr. (D-Chicago) and Tom Demmer (R-Rochelle), encourages partnerships between law enforcement, substance use treatment providers, and community members to guide the development of deflection programs in their communities.

As part of a package of critical legislation to support access to treatment for substance use and mental health disorders, Governor Rauner also signed SB682, which removes prior authorizations for certain levels of substance use disorders; SB1707, which adds critical parity enforcement and transparency provisions to the state law; SB2951, which pilots an early mental health treatment program, and SB3049, the Medicaid Telehealth Act.

“The members of the General Assembly delivered great results,” said Governor Rauner at a signing ceremony at the Memorial Center for Learning and Innovation in Springfield. “Illinois is now a proud leader in these efforts. I’m honored and proud to sign these five bills.”

Among the law enforcement leaders attending the signing ceremony were Mundelein Police Chief Eric Guenther and Dixon City Manager and former Police Chief Danny Langloss, who, along with TASC, helped conceptualize SB3023. The legislation was informed by Guenther’s and Langloss’ direct experience leading pre-arrest diversion programs (also known as law enforcement “deflection” programs), as the police departments of Mundelein and Dixon already operate such programs.

“Senate Bill 3023 is the first of its kind legislation and recognizes a paradigm shift in law enforcement’s approach to those who struggle with substance use,” said Guenther. “I am very proud to have been a part of creating this legislation.”

“This is a hopeful day for Illinois law enforcement and those suffering from substance use disorder,” added Langloss. “The national opioid epidemic continues to impact every community. More than 72,000 Americans lost their lives last year to drug overdose. Behind every death there is a family.

“With this bill, the police now have new programs at their disposal that save lives and make our communities safer,” he said.

“With the passage of Senate Bill 3023, Illinois is leading the way on police deflection to substance use treatment,” said TASC Policy Director Laura Brookes. “These programs provide an immediate warm hand-off to treatment, and give police a new tool for getting people the help they need even before crisis sets in.”

The Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority (ICJIA) will lead the development of a set of minimum data to be collected in such programs and, for those that receive funding, serve as a performance measurement system.

“The data collection provisions mean that departments will be able to improve their programs and allow equal access to them regardless of race or ethnicity or any other factors,” said Brookes.

“We thank Governor Rauner, the bill’s sponsors, our partners in law enforcement, and all who supported this landmark legislation.”

Among the many groups filing their support for the bipartisan legislation were 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.

SB3023 becomes effective on January 1, 2019.

August 22, 2018 signing of Illinois Senate Bill 3023 (l. to r.): Chief Steve Howell (Dixon Police Dept.), Laura Brookes (TASC), Chief Brian Fengel (Bartonville Police Dept. and President of IL Assn. of Chiefs of Police), IL Governor Bruce Rauner, Chief Eric Guenther (Mundelein Police Dept.), Chief Dan Ryan (Leland Grove Police Dept.), Danny Langloss (City of Dixon), and Jeff Ragan (Dixon Police Dept.)

August 22, 2018: Governor Bruce Rauner signs five bills supporting access to substance use and mental health treatment, flanked by advocates including Sara Howe (left), CEO of the Illinois Association for Behavioral Health.

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.

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.