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Pretrial Diversion - Diversion Of Drug Abusers

treatment tasc programs program

Ironically, the group destined to become the most promising class of diversion cases—the drug dependent—was specifically excluded from most general diversion programs. Though some diversion programs accepted persons charged with minor drug-related offenses, most such programs lacked the resources to promote specialized treatment and, therefore, avoided defendants with known chemical dependencies. Despite the inability of general deferred prosecution programs to accommodate these defendants, there have been numerous attempts to address their needs for treatment. Approaches have ranged from compulsory institutional treatment programs to voluntary community-based treatment alternatives imposed as conditions of pretrial release, probation, or parole. Prior to the development of drug courts, the broadest attempt to use the arrest process to absorb unmotivated drug users into treatment was the TASC (Treatment Alternatives to Street Crime) Program developed in 1971 by the President's Special Action Office of Drug Abuse Prevention and funded in cities nationwide by the LEAA.

TASC itself operated solely as a referral mechanism, generally relying on existing community-based treatment facilities to provide the necessary supervision and services. Three functions were commonly performed by TASC staff: (1) screening arrestees, identifying abusers, and determining their eligibility for TASC; (2) diagnosing individual problems and locating appropriate treatment resources; and (3) monitoring participant progress and maintaining contact with the criminal justice system. Initially conceived as a pretrial diversion program for heroin addicts, in many cities the design was altered to include all drug abusers who were intercepted at a variety of points of entry and exit from the criminal justice system. Nonetheless, eligibility criteria were still fairly restrictive, resulting in the admittance of only a small proportion of drug users appearing before the courts. Moreover, because TASC generally operated solely as a referral agency, it was often difficult for TASC staff to monitor progress in treatment or to ensure the defendant's compliance with other court-imposed conditions.

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