TASC, National Judicial College Offer Self-Study Courses on Addiction for Criminal Justice Practitioners

(Chicago) – In the face of a national opioid crisis, and recognizing that most people entering the justice system have recently used illicit drugs and/or have a substance use disorder, the Center for Health and Justice at TASC and the National Judicial College (NJC) have co-developed three new self-study courses to support justice leaders in implementing evidence-based responses to help stop cycles of drug use and crime.

These free, online courses provide timely information and practical solutions offered by top national researchers in addiction and criminal justice. They were created as a result of TASC’s and NJC’s collaborative work in leading the Justice Leaders Systems Change Initiative (JLSCI), which supports jurisdictions across the country in leveraging local resources to create and implement collaborative responses to substance use disorders.

The courses present several key topics requested by jurisdictions, including research on how the brain is affected by addiction, implications for evidence-based sentencing options, and information on medication-assisted treatment.

Available by clicking on the titles below and registering through the NJC website, these free courses include:

The Neuroscience of Addiction. This self-study course offers an introduction to the opiate epidemic, why individuals use drugs, and the long-term effects of addictive drugs on the brain. Designed for judges, probation staff, and other criminal justice system stakeholders, the course takes approximately two hours to complete, and is presented by NJC distinguished faculty member Timothy P. Condon, PhD, a preeminent expert in the neuroscience of addiction and its application to policy and practice.

Evidence-Based Sentencing for Drug Offenders. This self-study course addresses several aspects of sentencing and supervision of people with substance use disorders, including matching treatment and supervision to the individuals’ clinical needs and risks of reoffending. Providing tools, resources, and evidence-based approaches for judges, the course takes approximately two to four hours to complete, and is presented by NJC distinguished faculty member Roger Peters, PhD, a prolific author, researcher, and professor in the Department of Mental Health Law and Policy at the University of South Florida (USF).

Medication-Assisted Treatment. This self-study course addresses how medication-assisted therapies can be used to treat substance abuse disorders, including discussions on the opiate epidemic; the impact of addiction on the brain; relapse, overdose, and mortality rates; and how medication-assisted treatment can work. Designed for leaders and practitioners in criminal justice, the course takes approximately two to four hours to complete, and is presented by NJC distinguished faculty member Joshua D. Lee, MD, director of the NYU ABAM Fellowship in Addiction Medicine, and a clinician researcher focused on addiction pharmacotherapies.

Created by the Center for Health and Justice at TASC and the National Judicial College, the Justice Leaders Systems Change Initiative (JLSCI) helps local jurisdictions create and implement practical, collaborative responses to substance abuse and addiction among offenders and is funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (SAMHSA/CSAT), the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA).

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National Law Enforcement Leaders Examine Science of Substance Use Disorders and Implications for Practice

(Chicago) – White House Drug Policy Director R. Gil Kerlikowske and Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy were among the high-level policy and law enforcement leaders who met in Chicago recently for a seminal task force meeting to discuss the science of substance use disorders and implications for police and public safety.

The intensive two-day event, hosted by the Center for Health and Justice at TASC and held November 19-20, brought together prominent addiction neuroscientists, policy experts, and law enforcement leaders representing jurisdictions from California to Maryland. Weaving together science, policy, and practical experience, the presentations and discussions focused on the science of addiction and behavioral management in conjunction with police theory, existing police practices and policies, and opportunities for systemic interventions and action.

The Task Force is a component of the Justice Leaders Systems Change Initiative (JLSCI), which combines criminal justice training and systems change to achieve improved public safety, public health, reduced recidivism, and cost savings. The Police Practice Training Initiative and the Task Force are part of a larger criminal justice reform initiative funded by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).

In addition to Kerlikowske and McCarthy, speakers included:

  • Pamela Rodriguez, President and CEO of TASC and its Center for Health and Justice
  • Benjamin Tucker, Deputy Director of State, Local, and Tribal Affairs for ONDCP
  • Timothy Condon, PhD, TASC’s Chief Science Advisor
  • Redonna Chandler, PhD, Chief of the Services Research Branch of the National Institute on Drug Abuse
  • Robert Schwartz, MD, Director of the Friends Research Institute
  • John Firman, Director of the Research Center of the International Association of Chiefs of Police
  • Bruce Kubu, Deputy Director of Research for the Police Executive Research Forum
  • Melody Heaps, President Emeritus of TASC

“This is a groundbreaking event, convening some of the top minds in the country in both addiction science and law enforcement,” said Rodriguez. “For years, we at TASC have experienced tremendous impact in bridging the criminal justice system with community-based drug treatment, most often through partnerships with courts, probation, and reentry. We know the critical importance of intervening earlier in the system—at the point of law enforcement and diversion programs—and we are grateful to ONDCP and every leader in the room for bringing their expertise to this effort.”

Hennepin County (MN) Sheriff Rich Stanek, president of the Major County Sheriffs Association, lauded the value of the meeting’s content and discussions. “I greatly appreciated the opportunity to learn more about addiction and what we, as professional law enforcement officers, can do collectively to intervene with people who need help and improve safety in our communities,” he said.

Training curricula and conferences will be developed for all levels of law enforcement—patrol officers to CEOs—expanding their knowledge of the science and treatment of addiction to improve police practice.

“There’s much more to come,” added Rodriguez.

The Chicago-based Center for Health and Justice at TASC is a national public policy group focused on criminal justice and health issues.

Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy (left) speaks with National Drug Control Policy Director R. Gil Kerlikowske. Photo by Dan Rest.

Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy (left) speaks with National Drug Control Policy Director R. Gil Kerlikowske. Photo by Dan Rest.

ONDCP's Benjamin Tucker (left) makes a point as TASC's Pamela Rodriguez listens. Photo by Dan Rest.

ONDCP’s Benjamin Tucker (left) makes a point as TASC’s Pamela Rodriguez listens. Photo by Dan Rest.

NIDA's Redonna Chandler presents data on the neuroscience of drug use. Photo by Dan Rest.

NIDA’s Redonna Chandler presents data on the neuroscience of drug use. Photo by Dan Rest.

Twitter @TASC_CHJ

Preeminent Addiction Neuroscientist Named Advisor to TASC Center for Health and Justice

(Chicago)Timothy P. Condon, PhD, a distinguished expert in the neuroscience of addiction, has been named chief science advisor to the Center for Health and Justice (CHJ) at TASC.

With extensive experience in leadership roles for the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), Condon specializes in the fundamental impact of drugs on human behavior and implications for clinical and criminal justice practice.

CHJ is a nonprofit public policy and consulting group that promotes criminal justice and health reform nationally through practical, evidence-based responses to mental health and substance use conditions. The Center grew out of the direct service experience of TASC (Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities), a statewide organization that since 1976 has provided placement into addiction treatment, case management, and recovery support for hundreds of thousands of Illinoisans, primarily through alternatives to incarceration and reentry programs.

“Dr. Condon’s exceptional experience and knowledge will inform the delivery of our national training and consulting services as well as our internal program evaluation processes,” said TASC President Pamela Rodriguez. “We are honored to announce this partnership, especially at a time when justice and health reform efforts across the country are incorporating new understandings of brain science and research-based practices.”

Among his many accomplishments, Condon guided NIDA in building its research, training infrastructure, bringing science-based findings to community treatment programs, and establishing a national communications network for information sharing and research collaboration. He was instrumental in establishing the national NIDA Clinical Trials Network to conduct research in real-life treatment settings with diverse populations. In addition, he established the NIDA/Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA) Blending Initiative to reduce the substantial lag time between research discoveries and the implementation of these finding into clinical practice.

At ONDCP, his expertise informed the development of the National Drug Control Strategy and the nation’s demand reduction activities, including the integration of primary and behavioral health delivery, the treatment of substance use disorders among criminal justice populations, evidence-based approaches to prescription drug abuse, and the implications of health care reform for policy, practice, and workforce development. Condon was one of the authors of the national Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Plan released in 2011.

“I have been working with TASC and CHJ for a number of years as deputy director of NIDA and am honored to provide whatever expertise I can to TASC as it creates new opportunities to improve social justice for those in the criminal justice system and to ensure that those suffering from addiction and other behavioral health disorders get the treatment that they need,” Condon said.

“At TASC and our Center for Health and Justice, it is with both pride and humility that we have the opportunity to work with innovative thinkers and influential change agents across the country,” Rodriguez added. “Together we are committed to meaningful strategies, practices, and policies to improve health and justice. It is in this environment that we happily welcome Dr. Condon to our expansive team of dedicated partners and colleagues.”

Timothy P. Condon, PhD, Chief Science Advisor to the Center for Health and Justice at TASC

Timothy P. Condon, PhD, Chief Science Advisor to the Center for Health and Justice at TASC

Twitter: @TASC_CHJ