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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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.

 

 

 

 

National Public Health Emergency Declared in Face of Opioid Crisis; TASC and Partners Collaborating to Offer Solutions and Strategies

(Chicago) – Drug overdoses killed more than 64,000 people in the United States in 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s an average of 175 people per day.

On October 26, President Trump declared the opioid crisis a national public health emergency, “directing all executive agencies to use every appropriate emergency authority to fight the opioid crisis.”

In his announcement, the President indicated that a new policy would overcome the Institutions for Mental Diseases (IMD) exclusion that disallows Medicaid payment for certain services at substance use disorder treatment facilities that have more than 16 beds. He also discussed measures to confront illegal drug trafficking, improve safe prescribing practices, and develop non-addictive painkillers.

No requests for federal funding were attached to the announcement.

“What’s important for people to know is that, with funding, there are solutions that can be brought to bear on this crisis,” said TASC President Pam Rodriguez. “From Chicago to Rockford to the Metro-East region of Illinois, and from Maryland to Ohio, we have been working closely with communities severely affected by this crisis. We are finding and delivering solutions together.”

Nationally, the Addiction Policy Forum, of which TASC is a partner, shares innovative approaches happening in communities across the country, from home-based treatment to family recovery initiatives. Earlier this week, APF shared eight priorities to address addiction in the United States, from helping families in crisis to expanding treatment access to reframing criminal justice.

Collaborative Solutions and Strategies for Justice Systems

Opioid use disorders are highly prevalent among criminal justice populations, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Furthermore, a Washington State study showed that the risk of dying within the first two weeks of release from prison are 12 times higher than for other state residents, with overdose being the leading cause of death.

Working with expert researchers, justice leaders, and practitioners across the country, the Center for Health and Justice at TASC has developed collaborative opioid response strategies and solutions for all points in the justice system, beginning with law enforcement and through to parole.

“As first responders, law enforcement officers often are on the front lines of the epidemic. Not only can they carry naloxone to revive individuals who have overdosed, but can save a lives again by placing people in treatment instead of arresting them,” said Jac Charlier, national director for justice initiatives at the Center for Health and Justice at TASC.

“When police, treatment, and communities work together, there’s an array of public health responses that can happen pre-arrest, before people enter the justice system.”

To this end, TASC is a founding partner in the Policy, Treatment, and Community (PTAC) Collaborative, whose mission is to increase health and public safety by widening community and behavioral health and social service options available through law enforcement diversion. Sharing research and information on robust partnerships to confront the opioid crisis in local jurisdictions, the PTAC Collaborative will hold its inaugural conference on pre-arrest diversion in March 2018.

TASC’s Center for Health and Justice also has worked with partners to develop collaborative responses for jails, courts, and reentry phases of the justice system, as well as tools and strategies that span the continuum, including rapid assessment and treatment capacity expansion.

Additionally, the American Association for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence released a fact sheet earlier this week on the use of medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder in the justice system. TASC participated in the expert panel cited in the report.

“Families and communities are hurting,” said Rodriguez. “We’re joining forces with policymakers, justice leaders, and practitioners to help people and communities get the services they need. We need to keep people alive.”

To learn more, visit the Center for Health and Justice (CHJ) at TASC, or contact Jac Charlier, national director for justice initiatives at CHJ.

Supporting Criminal Justice Reforms and Treatment Access: National Initiatives

(Chicago) – The majority of people who enter the justice system have a substance use or mental health condition, or both. In many cases, deflection and diversion to appropriate services can happen at the very front end of the system, even before arrest.

TASC and its Center for Health and Justice (CHJ) are active in a number of national initiatives to advance knowledge, policy, and practice to divert eligible participants away from the justice system and into appropriate services in the community.

Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act

Passed by Congress and signed into law in 2016, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) is groundbreaking legislation that, among its many provisions, supports justice diversion practices, medication-assisted treatment, and naloxone for first responders to help curb the opioid overdose epidemic. TASC played a leading role in the bill’s inclusion of the first-ever Congressional authorization of funding for pre-booking police deflection programs. TASC and CHJ are partnering with the Addiction Policy Forum to help advance these innovative practices.

MD Magazine Peer Exchange Video Series on Addiction and Treatment in the Justice System

TASC’s Jac Charlier and Phillip Barbour are featured in a 14-part video series entitled Medication-Assisted Treatment in Drug Abuse Cases: A Path to Success. The series is produced by MD Magazine, a portal that provides physicians with clinical news, information, and resources designed to help them provide better care to patients. In the series, Charlier, Barbour, and other experts discuss an array of issues around drug treatment and medication-assisted therapies in justice and reentry settings.

Data-Driven Justice Initiative

The Data-Driven Justice Initiative (DDJ) is a coalition of over 100 cities, counties, and states that have committed to employing data-driven strategies to divert individuals out of the justice system and into care, with a specific focus on the small percentage of people with substance use and/or mental health disorders who account for a disproportionate amount of health and justice resources. This groundbreaking effort is merging the fields of big data and criminal justice reform.

Working with the National Association of Counties, TASC is providing technical assistance to the State of Illinois and five small-to-medium counties outside of Illinois as they pursue their respective DDJ initiatives. TASC is helping these jurisdictions develop partnerships, identify core data sources, and plan for pilot programs to address local concerns.

Roll Call Videos for Law Enforcement

The Center for Health and Justice at TASC produced two videos to be used by local police departments during roll call to help law enforcement officers and leadership better understand the nature of addiction and improve community relations as a foundation for deflecting drug-involved individuals into treatment rather than arrest. This project was funded by the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Following recent consulting work to help initiate Baltimore’s Stop, Triage, Educate, Engage, and Rehabilitate (STEER) program, Charlier recently was quoted in the Wall Street Journal regarding the value of law enforcement deflection initiatives. “The policing world, through deflection efforts, is understanding that access to treatment and follow-up to treatment is a legitimate approach to public safety,” he said.

Read more about TASC ‘s national work and other news here.

TASC’s Jac Charlier (far right) and Phillip Barbour (second from left) appear in MD Magazine Peer Exchange series.

TASC’s Jac Charlier (second from right) and Phillip Barbour
(second from left) in MD Magazine Peer Exchange series.

TASC Offers Roll Call Videos for Law Enforcement: The Science of Addiction, Building Partnership with Treatment

(Chicago) – The Center for Health and Justice at TASC has produced two short videos designed to support law enforcement in connecting addicted individuals to treatment in the community.

The videos can be viewed on the Center for Health and Justice website.

When people are addicted to drugs, their decision-making abilities are compromised. With information on how addiction affects the brain, and how to effectively partner with drug treatment organizations, many law enforcement agencies are working to reduce crime and improve community relations by diverting low-risk individuals to treatment rather than arrest them when their offenses are related to addiction.

Designed for showing during roll call or staff meetings, the videos cover two specific areas:

What Happens When a Brain is Addicted

  • Dr. Timothy Condon, former science advisor to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and past deputy director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, discusses addiction as a disease of the brain and the challenge of managing it, similar to other chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.

Building Partnerships with Addiction Treatment

  • Peter Palanca, executive vice president of TASC, discusses opportunities to build partnerships between law enforcement and drug treatment providers in the community. This video provides questions that law enforcement can ask providers during an initial meeting to learn about the services they provide.

For information on how to use these videos in your law enforcement setting, please contact Jac Charlier, director of consulting and training for the Center for Health and Justice at TASC.

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Funding for the production of the videos was provided through a grant awarded by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Executive Office of the President. Points of view or opinions in the videos are those of the presenters and do not represent the official position or policies of the Executive Office of the President.

TASC Consulting Supports New White House Data-Driven Justice Initiative

(Chicago) – On June 30, the White House launched the Data-Driven Justice Initiative with a bipartisan coalition of 67 city, county, and state governments who have committed to using data-driven strategies to divert low-level offenders with mental illness out of the criminal justice system. Coalition participants are changing approaches to pretrial incarceration so that people with lower-level charges no longer stay in jail simply because they cannot afford a bond.

These innovative strategies, which have measurably reduced jail populations in several communities, help stabilize individuals and families, better serve communities, and often save money in the process.

“The Data-Driven Justice communities are leading by example by committing to adopt these proven strategies that reduce unnecessary arrests and incarceration. These approaches provide much needed stability to individuals and families, and make our communities stronger while saving taxpayer dollars,” ‎said DJ Patil, U.S. Chief Data Scientist.

To help advance these efforts, TASC responded to the White House’s call to action and will provide telephone and on-site consulting to several jurisdictions within the coalition that are developing data-driven diversion practices.

“We are thrilled to be working with the White House and with partners across the country to support good diversion policies and practices, based on the evidence of what works,” said TASC President Pam Rodriguez.

The DDJ communities will implement the following strategies that have proven to be effective in reducing unnecessary incarceration in jails:

  • Use data to identify and proactively break the cycle of incarceration. DDJ communities will bring data together from across criminal justice and health systems to identify the individuals with the highest number of contacts with police, ambulance, emergency departments, and other services, and link them to health, behavioral health, and social services in the community, with a goal of reducing over-reliance on emergency healthcare and encounters with the criminal justice system.
  • Equip law enforcement and first responders with the tools they need to respond and divert. Recognizing that police officers, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), and firefighters are often front-line responders to people experiencing mental health crises, DDJ communities will create systems and protocols to help effectively de-escalate crisis situations and safely divert people to the appropriate service providers instead of arresting them.
  • Use data-driven, validated, pretrial risk assessment tools to inform pretrial release decisions. DDJ communities will work towards using objective, data-driven, validated risk-assessment tools to identify low-risk defendants held in jail and identify opportunities for their safe release.

“Just as the power of ‘big data’ is being used in the private sector to have greater insight and impact than ever before on their decision making, so too is it the right time for it be put to use by criminal justice decision makers for the same reasons,” said Jac Charlier, who directs training and consulting services for the Center for Health and Justice at TASC. “The vision of safer communities and our citizens leading better lives is very compelling.”

Each year, more than 11 million people move through America’s 3,100 local jails, many on low-level, non-violent misdemeanors, costing local governments approximately $22 billion a year.

Leveraging the opportunities of Medicaid expansion, TASC and its Center for Health and Justice have been working with local, state, and national partners to develop and implement strategies to safely divert people out of the justice system as early as possible.

Maureen McDonnell, who directs healthcare strategies for TASC and provides consulting services nationally, sees the tremendous advances possible through such diversion strategies.

“Through coordinated efforts taking place within jurisdictions across the country, millions of people with substance use and mental health disorders ultimately can be diverted away from the front end of the justice system and into appropriate care in the community,” she said. “This is a very exciting time.”

(left to right): TASC’s Jac Charlier, Pam Rodriguez, and Maureen McDonnell participated in the Data-Driven Justice inaugural workshop at the White House on June 13.

(left to right): TASC’s Jac Charlier, Pam Rodriguez, and Maureen McDonnell participated in the Data-Driven Justice inaugural workshop at the White House on June 13.