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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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.