According to the North Carolina Substance Improvement Project, 30,738 of the 38,423 people in prison in North Carolina need substance abuse services. It costs roughly $25,000 to send someone to prison in North Carolina, which is paid for out of tax dollars.
In 1962, the U.S. Supreme Court first ruled that addiction is an illness, not a crime, and that states may require addicts to submit to treatment, and also pursue criminal sanctions for non-compliance. Responding to an obvious need of including treatment in the judicial process with the intent of preventing addictive behavior and criminal activity, The Treatment Accountability for Safer Communities, TASC, was formed.
The North Carolina TASC Network is a non-profit organization established to bridge the gap between the justice and treatment systems. The TASC care management model aims to reduce the burden and to improve the results of the justice and treatment systems by remaining objective while balancing public safety with the need to return individuals to a healthy state and to obtain self-sufficiency. Through treatment services, TASC works toward getting offenders the help they need and as a result, saves tax payers money by getting people out of the criminal justice system.
The first TASC program was opened in Delaware in 1972 and quickly spread across the United States, reaching North Carolina in 1978, and landing in Jackson and Macon counties in 2001. North Carolina is the only state to unify its TASC network under the central administration of the Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services, which allows the state to provide services of the same array and quality. The centralized approach being implemented in North Carolina allows the state to efficiently and effectively leverage resources to work toward returning offenders to the community safely and rehabilitated.
TASC programs are comprised of care managers, case developers, and clinical coordinators who work together to asses each client individually and appropriate a treatment plan through support services.
TASC programs are in every county in North Carolina and are divided into four regions that reflect the state’s judicial districts. Each region is overseen by a TASC Regional Coordinating Entity (RCE), which serves as the leader for ensuring the effective delivery of treatment and support services to the offender population within each region.
Macon County is located in Region 4; Carlene Woods is the Region 4 president and oversees all 24 counties in the district. According to Woods, “TASC provides a thorough assessment for each individual and connects them with mental health, substance abuse and other services. Along with some of our partners (Criminal Justice Partnership Program, Department of Community Corrections, etc.), individuals are connected to support services as well. These might be related to needs such as education, vocation, housing, transportation, parenting, etc.”
One of the services TASC offers are Drug Education Programs to give offenders the opportunity to work toward self-sustaining through gaining knowledge of their addiction and learning how treatment can be effective. The program is paid for by the offender, and after 15 hours of education offenders are offered the chance to get their records expunged.
“Drug Education School not only provides general information about alcohol and other drugs, but also helps individuals change thinking patterns and increase problem- solving skills, helping them to maintain a lifestyle free from substance abuse and criminal activity,” said Woods.
Region 4 of TASC operates as a division of the larger entity, Partnership for a Drug Free NC.
Partnership for a Drug Free NC implements the practices of the TASC network to achieve their goal of providing services to reduce the negative impact of substance abuse and mental illness of North Carolina’s individuals, families and communities.
According to Woods, the primary substance abuse issues in Macon County (in order from most prevalent to least) are marijuana 31.6 percent, alcohol 29.8 percent, methamphetamine 15.8 percent, and opiates 14 percent.
TASC received 97 referrals in Macon County in the fiscal year 7/1/10-6/30/11; 75 percent of the referrals received were male, and 37 percent had less than a high school education. Twenty-three percent of the clients who were referred to TASC in Macon County were unemployed, with many of the individuals who had jobs were underemployed or only employed part-time.
In 2003, the TASC Training Institute located in Wilmington, was established to provide professional training for a wide range of scenarios related to offender management.
North Carolina’s TASC maintains a close relationship with local criminal justice systems and probation officers. Client referrals come from the criminal courts and community corrections.
Eligible clients are identified as individuals who have been charged with a crime and who are eligible for intermediate or community punishments and who also demonstrates a need for mental health services and/or addiction treatment.
The statewide infrastructure presented in North Carolina’s model for delivering TASC services to the community served as an innovator as being the first of its kind in the county and is now replicated nationwide. The statewide nature of the TASC Network allows offenders to have the same quality and types of services throughout the entire state.
REGION 4 STATISTICS FOR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS:
• 25% of high school students take prescription drugs without a prescription
• 25% admit to being driven by someone who has had at least one alcoholic beverage
• 20% admit to drinking and driving
• 43% admit to drinking at least one in the 30 days before the survey
• 30% of 12th graders admit to binge drinking – consuming 5 or more drinks in a row
• 20% of 9th graders admit to trying (more than just a sip) of alcohol before the age of 13
• 35% admit to trying marijuana
• 43% admit to regularly using marijuana
• 27.7% admit to being offered, sold, or given illegal drugs at school
• Macon County's D.W.I. rate is higher than the state’s average
From 2009 Use Risk Behavior Survey