By Mark Powell
Treatment Not Incarceration
For too many people, substance use problems lead to involvement with the justice system. But when that happens, incarceration isn’t always the best answer. It’s costly to taxpayers and often provokes a cascade of collateral problems. Other approaches are needed.
That’s where TASC’s model of Specialized Case Management comes into play.
Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities (TASC) has its roots in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, says chief legal counsel Michele Worobiec. “There was a big uptick in heroin addiction in the 1970s. Many Vietnam veterans came back struggling with it. That was when a link between substance use disorders and justice system involvement was observed. So a model was created for these people to receive treatment instead of incarceration.”
In Illinois, TASC’s Specialized Case Management model facilitates linkages to treatment in the community. It was first applied as an alternative to incarceration for courts, and now is also is applied to community reentry, juvenile justice services, family recovery and reunification services, and more.
The concept is simple: Make sure people get the services they need. But with issues as complex as addiction and co-occurring conditions, and in systems as complicated as justice and child welfare systems, navigating one’s way through these services and systems is not easy.