The Treatment Assessment Services for the Courts Program (TASC) is a substance abuse assessment program within the State of New Jersey Judiciary, administered by the Administrative Office of the Courts. The Judiciary employs and clinically supervises substance abuse clinicians known as substance abuse evaluators (SAEs), who provide substance abuse assessments and treatment referrals for substance abusing defendants. The aim of the TASC program is to reduce the recidivism inherent in substance abusing populations by reducing relapse through diversion of non-violent defendants to treatment in lieu of incarceration.
TASC has undergone a number of changes during its 30+ year history. TASC was founded in 1971 as a federally funded, voluntary, pilot program initiated to address the lack of success that the criminal justice system was experiencing with drug abusers. TASC was charged with addressing the addiction-arrest cycle of recidivism through the functions of assessment, referral for treatment, communication with the courts, monitoring of provider services, and offender case management. Judiciary treatment assessment services further expanded in 1996 with the inception of the Drug Court Program. Judiciary TASC SAEs played a critical role in the efforts of drug court pilot vicinages to implement the program. By September 2004, the adult Drug Court Program and TASC were fully operational in all of New Jersey's 15 vicinages.
Today's TASC substance assessment is a clinical evaluation consistent with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Center for Substance Abuse Treatment best practice assessment standards. Assessment treatment recommendations are clinically driven, using the most recent versions of the evidence-based tools of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and the American Society of Addiction Medicine patient placement criteria. All SAEs are credentialed as certified or licensed substance abuse counselors and serve as clinical experts for judiciary staff and judges. SAEs also perform adjunct clinical and educational functions as needed, such as statewide implementation of overdose awareness efforts.
As of 2018, TASC services are present in all 21 counties with more than 60 SAEs conducting more than 8000 evaluations annually across divisions. All counties utilize TASC for drug court. In addition, some counties employ SAEs within the criminal division, family division (juvenile and adult), and/or probation (juvenile and adult). Over the years, TASC has varied in the scope of service provided across New Jersey’s 21 counties, but it has remained a vital part of the courts’ service to substance abusing offenders.