TASC began during the 1970s as a criminal justice effort in response to the rising tide of substance-involved offenders revolving through the criminal justice system, developing mechanisms to utilize the treatment system to meet criminal justice goals. Discussion of how to link treatment and the judicial process and interrupt the relationship between drugs and property crimes were held by the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA), the White House-established Special Action Office for Drug Prevention (SAODAP), and the National Institute on Mental Health’s division of Narcotic Addiction and Drug Abuse (DNADA) predecessor to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). The result was a federal initiative, modeled after early experiments with diversion programs and two demonstration projects in New York City and Washington, D.C. The project was funded under the Drug Abuse office and Treatment Act of 1972 and christened TASC: “Treatment Alternatives to Street Crime.” In the mid 80s a resurgence of interest in TASC came through the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), which had taken the place of LEAA.
TASC incorporates the philosophies of both the criminal justice and treatment systems into its operating principles, and does so by capitalizing on the leverage of the criminal justice system to achieve maximum benefits from treatment. The TASC model is based on critical elements fundamental to integrating the criminal justice and substance abuse treatment systems, holding offenders and both systems accountable through the implementation of client-specific case management. A goal of integrated services is to safely manage high-risk, high-need offenders in the community by balancing intervention opportunities with controlled supervision.
The TASC model of service includes assessment, treatment, or referral to treatment, case management, and monitoring and reporting services. TASC and TASC-like programs provide an integrated system of care in meeting the needs of the justice system, the treatment system, and, most of all, the client. TASC programs work with courts (including drug courts), and corrections to ensure treatment is available for community-based supervision, and institutional aftercare.
The TASC model approaches, refined over thirty years of experience, are now routinely used in pretrial diversion, drug courts, day and evening reporting programs, community corrections, juvenile case management, mental health courts, child welfare and family treatment programs, reentry and jail transitional programs throughout the nation.
Advantages of the TASC approach include less reliance on governmental solutions to problems, and better resource utilization through communities. TASC increases community capacity by targeting services and fitting them to clients’ needs and risks. This improves system responses and communications through regular use of treatment, case management and interventions.
Most of these approaches have been freely disseminated through training, technical assistance and replication funded by the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs, Department of Health and Human Services, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institute of Health and the Office of National Drug Control Policy continue to recognize the value of TASC’s contributions to the substance abuse field.