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TREATMENT ASSESSMENT SERVICES FOR THE COURTS

Given the large number of drug cases in our Criminal Courts, it is essential that judges get professional assessments on the nature of an offender's addiction when setting bail, considering Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI), Drug Court Participation or sentencing. These assessments are done by the Criminal Division TASC Program. The TASC Program in New Jersey is based on a national program model initiated in 1972 designed to break the addiction/crime cycle of non-violent, drug-involved offenders by linking the legal sanctions of the criminal justice system with the therapeutic interventions of drug treatment programs. Since its inception in New Jersey in 1978, to its recommendation by the Supreme Court's TASK Force on Drugs in 1990 as a necessary drug assessment service for the courts, the program has expanded to

The comprehensive services of TASC provide a needed bridge between the criminal justice system, the treatment service system, and the offender. With the advent of Drug Courts in New Jersey, TASC has proven to be an essential cornerstone to the high degree of coordination needed between courts and treatment providers. The service

  • Identifying drug-involved offenders
  • Treatment referral and placement
  • Treatment monitoring
  • Drug Court participation
  • Drug and alcohol assessments
  • Resource information
  • Urinalysis
  • Substance abuse education
  • Treatment matching
  • Consultations
  • Court appearances
  • Status reports

In a typical TASC Program, a trained and certified full time substance abuse evaluator will receive requests from the judge, or another referring agent of the courts, for a drug or an alcohol evaluation. The TASC evaluator will schedule an immediate intake interview at which time the defendant will receive drug testing and a thorough psycho/social assessment using the Addiction Severity Index (ASI). Once an addiction severity score is determined the TASC evaluator will define the defendant's treatment needs and an appropriate level of care by applying the American Society of Addiction Medicine's patient placement criteria (ASAM) and referencing available treatment resources locally and around the state. A complete evaluation report, which includes specific treatment recommendations, an appropriate treatment provider, and an anticipated entry date for the defendant, is prepared and delivered to the court. When a defendant is deemed appropriate for substance abuse intervention by the courts the TASC program continues to provide regular updates which assist in tracking and monitoring treatment progress and

The judiciary recognized early-on the critical need for our criminal divisions to address ever-increasing court backlogs caused by repeat offenders committing new crimes to support undetected drug habits. TASC provides pre- and post trial level identification, thorough assessment of a persons drug and alcohol involvement, treatment needs and treatment referrals. These services provide valuable information to Judges and probation officers. The results are quite evident -- more rapid, appropriate disposition and supervision of drug involved defendants, strengthened relationships between judges, court agents, and the treatment community. The TASC Program benefits, not only the criminal justice system, but treatment agencies and the community

Since 1995, TASC has made significant strides toward standardization among the individual vicinage programs. Common goals and objectives, policies and procedures, assessment tools, computerization, and

Federally released reports indicate that more than 70% of all individuals brought into the criminal justice system have substance abuse problems. In New Jersey that equates to potentially more than 25,000 defendants requiring treatment interventions. The TASC program responds to this crucial need by providing 31 highly trained and specialized substance abuse evaluators who perform expert assessments and develop appropriate treatment recommendations for the courts. In the course of each TASC evaluator's performance it is not unusual for more than 12 clients per week to receive these valuable services and for the courts to have very specific and individualized treatment plans and ongoing updates on each TASC defendant's treatment progress. In sum total, the TASC Program statewide has the potential of intervening and halting the revolving door process of the addiction/crime cycle by reaching over 15,000 defendants yearly, addressing their substance abuse treatment needs, reducing recidivism, the number of backlogged cases, and

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