Treatment and Support Court (TASC)
TASC is a Circuit Court (felony) mental health court to improve the response of individuals with a co- occurring substance use disorder and/or severe mental illness who, because of their illness and addiction, encounter the criminal justice system.
Alternative to Incarceration
Access to Treatment & Support Services
Supervision and Monitoring
Compassionate Case Management
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T.A.S.C is a specialized court docket for certain defendants with mental illnesses, including those with a co-occurring substance use disorder, that substitutes a problem-solving model for traditional court processing and to eliminate future engagement with the legal system. Defendants who choose to participate will be accountable to higher levels of supervision and monitoring requirements and must actively participate in services and supports to address their mental health and substance use needs (if a disorder is diagnosed).
Defendants with a past or current CSC, violent crime causing death or serious bodily harm by statute, may not be eligible for participation. TASC is appropriate for the following defendants:
- HIGH RISK OF RE-OFFENDING. If mental health and co-occurring substance use disorder needs are not met, the individual will likely remain in the court system.
- LOW RISK OF DANGER/HARM to themselves, others, or the community.
- HIGH MENTAL HEALTH NEEDS. Individual has a diagnosed Serious Mental Illness. Defendants who have a co-occurring Substance Use Disorder (SUD) are also appropriate for consideration.
TASC Uses a Team Based Approach
The team is led by the Honorable J. Joseph Rossi and consists of a court coordinator, a prosecuting and defense attorney, a probation officer, two clinical liaisons, a network of treatment providers, a recovery coach, and circuit court personnel.
The Team works together for the common goal of helping participants improve their mental health and general well-being, promote self-sufficiency, and to reduce/eliminate future engagement with the legal system.
Participation In TASC Is Voluntary
Defendants sign a Participation Agreement to demonstrate their desire to participate in TASC. Once admitted they will be accountable to the following requirements:
- Twice a month TASC court reviews
- Participation in treatment for the duration of the time they are in TASC
- Weekly drug testing
- Twice a month supervision with MDOC
- Engagement with a TASC Clinical Liaison
- Compliance to all conditions of bond and probation
- Compliance to TASC program rules
- Legal eligibility is a discretionary matter and is determined on a case by case basis. Defendants with a past or current CSC, violent crime causing death or serious bodily harm by statute, are not eligible for participation. Eligibility requires that a defendant be in pre-sentencing and have a felony through the 17th Circuit Court.
- Serious Mental Illness is defined through diagnosis, disability, and duration. These disorders are chronic, disabling, and require ongoing treatment to improve a person’s ability to function across multiple domains.
- Substance Use Disorder (SUD) is characterized by an array of mental, physical, and behavioral symptoms that cause problems related to loss of control, strain to one’s interpersonal life, hazardous use, tolerance and withdrawal. Many TASC participants have a co-occurring substance use disorder along with their mental illness.
Length of Program
TASC can be completed in as few as 15.5 months but the pace is set by the participant and may take up to 36 months to complete.
Remaining 2020 Biweekly Scheduled Court Hearings
- The first hearing of the month is attended by all participants.
- The second hearing of the month is attended by Phase I and II Participants.
- If you are placed on a Contingency Contract you will report weekly to the Judge.
- You may be sanctioned by the judge to attend hearings weekly. The judge or your Clinical Liaison will notify you if you are to report weekly.
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Make a Referral
Anyone can refer a defendant for TASC (i.e. law enforcement, jail staff, court services, attorneys, judge, clinician, or family member). In addition, an individual can self-refer.
The referral process includes:
- A review by the Kent County Prosecutor’s Office to determine if the defendant meets legal eligibility requirements;
- A mental health screen conducted by a TASC Clinical Liaison to determine if the participant meets mental health eligibility criteria; and
- A review by the full TASC team to determine if the individual is appropriate for participation.
Treatment and Support Court (TASC) From a Peer’s Perspective
What is TASC?
- TASC was designed to assist felony defendants who are living with mental illness and substance abuse problems. As a mental health court, TASC is designed to provide extra support and improve participants’ chance of success.
- The program can be completed in 15.5 months but can take up to 36 months depending on each individual’s progress.
- TASC takes a team-based approach. We are led by the Honorable Judge Joseph Rossi and composed of a Court Coordinator, two Clinical Liaisons, a Prosecutor, a Defense Attorney, a Probation Officer, a Recovery Coach, Circuit Court personnel, and a network of treatment providers.
So, what does this mean for you?
- We are approaching things with a different mindset and are designed to assist participants in navigating the legal and recovery processes.
- With that in mind, TASC is not a ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ card. It takes effort on the part of the participant to engage in the treatment best suited to them as approved by the team. You will drug test multiple times a week, be required to show up to court twice a month and meet with your probation officer as well as meeting the goals set in your phase plan.
How do you apply to join?
- The route most participants take is speaking with their attorney and have their attorney send a referral to the TASC team. However, anybody can do the referral from a family member to the judge. You can even self-refer by getting the referral form from Court Services or by contacting Teri using the information listed at the bottom of the page
- Once initiated, there is a process that then ensues. You will be vetted to make sure you meet legal eligibility (there are certain restrictions) and then once that occurs a clinical liaison will meet with you to conduct a mental health screen. After that, assuming all the criteria have been met, the TASC team will meet and discuss all pending participants to ensure the individual is appropriate for the program. Then, you will be notified of the decision. If accepted, a Clinical Liaison will meet with you again to have you sign a Participation Agreement and then your participation in Treatment and Support Court will begin.
- The prosecutor’s office will also reach out to your defense attorney to offer you a plea deal, which varies from person to person.
What is the significance of the plea deal?
- A plea deal is an agreement between a prosecutor and a defendant where the defendant agrees to plead guilty in exchange for a “concession” from the prosecutor. This could mean some of your charges being dropped or reduced to lesser charge or a reduction in the length of the sentence. To be admitted into TASC, you must plead guilty.
- Make sure that you discuss all your options with your attorney prior to accepting the plea deal and pleading guilty. We want to ensure that you make a well-informed decision as participation in TASC is voluntary. However, once you join, you will be required meet the expectations of the program, which will be explained in greater detail further down. With TASC, you will be participating in the program prior to the court hearings where you formally accept the plea and then sentencing.
- At sentencing, after the judge explains your rights and you make the guilty plea, the sentence will then be temporarily suspended contingent on the completion of the requirements of the program. This means you will be permitted to live in the community as long as you participate appropriately in TASC.
- If you decide not to accept the plea bargain at this point, your case will return to regular court and you will be sent back to your original judge.
Requirements of TASC Participants
- Bi-monthly TASC Court Reviews, which will decrease toonce a month as you progress.
- Participation in treatment for the duration of the time they are in TASC. Plan for treatment will be discussed with the participant.
- Weekly drug testing (will begin at 3x a week and you will be given a drug testing schedule; alcohol and weed are not permitted)
- Engagement with a TASC Clinical Liaison
- Compliance to all conditions of bond and probation. (To name a few: This means no use or possession of alcohol, marijuana, or any illegal drugs, no weapons, and your probation officer must approve of where you live and be given notice if you plan on moving.)
- Compliance to TASC program rules
- Take all medications as prescribed. Please consult with your treatment team regarding medication.
What happens if participants don’t follow these requirements?
- There is a system of incentives and sanctions in place. Incentives are given when you are displaying progress and participating in the program. These can range from a box of candy to a gift card. Sanctions are utilized when you are failing to comply with the requirements of TASC. This can vary from a verbal reprimand from the judge to jail time, depending on the severity of the infraction. Repeated failure to adhere to TASC requirements will result in termination from the program.
- In the beginning especially, we know all of this can feel very overwhelming and the team will work with you to identify barriers and develop solutions on how to best overcome these barriers. We are willing to listen to your concerns and make adjustments if appropriate and able to do so.
What if a participant changes his/her mind?
- If a participant decides they no longer wish to participate in Treatment and Support Court, they will be encouraged to consult with their attorney. If a participant wishes to withdraw from the program after weighing out the pros and cons, they are free to do so. In TASC, a participant is then removed from mental health court and sent back to the original judge. The time in TASC does not count as any kind of credit nor will it count against you for failing to complete the program.
What are the benefits of mental health court?
- TASC is a treatment court. Treatment is required. The goal is to increase mental health and overall wellbeing, so that future involvement with law-enforcement is reduced.
- The mental health court team will help you to access supportive services for which you qualify. This includes applying for disability benefits, general assistance, vocational rehabilitation services, and housing (housing is not guaranteed however).
- TASC understands that relapse with substances might occur. The team will work with you to support your sobriety. Jail is a last resort. The end goal is to reduce jail sentences and lower the risk of reoffending.
- A plea is offered by the prosecutor’s office and dependent upon the successful completion of TASC. A plea might include a reduction or dismissal of charges and/or an opportunity to serve your sentence in the community instead of jail or prison.