U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Breaking the Cycle

NCJ Number
Date Published
19 pages
This report describes the experiences of the University of Alabama at Birmingham Treatment Alternatives to Street Crime Program (TASC) in implementing the Breaking the Cycle (BTC) initiative, a national demonstration program that focused on the full use of the criminal justice system’s coercive powers to reduce drug use and drug related crime.
The report spans the duration of the Birmingham initiative from October 1996 through May 2000. BTC used an integrated approach of early intervention, judicial oversight, graduated sanctions and incentives, and close collaboration between criminal justice agencies and drug treatment to achieve six goals. Those goals included reduced drug use, reduced criminality, reduced jail and prison populations, system re-design and reorganization, improved life skills and life circumstances, and better allocation of system resources. Birmingham implementation of BTC had three phases. The Birmingham site used the National Institute of Justice model with slight adaptations to meet local needs. Preliminary accomplishments included an average monthly census of 2,040, an average of 357 assessments each months, the implementation of a bond requiring felony offenders to report to TASC within 48 hours for urinalysis, and a reduction in the time to assessment from 24 days in December 1997 to 5 days in December 1999. Challenges encountered included jail overcrowding, jail screening, and maintaining the project concept. The analysis concluded that the use of proven models, an outside facilitator, written roles and responsibilities, realistic expectations, feasibility studies, and modifications were all essential elements of a BTC program. Attached time line

Date Published: January 1, 2001