Detoxification Centers:It'd be interesting to get a count of how many such offenders are presently arrested and taken to jail each day, but I'll bet on Saturday night in Houston it's a not insignificant number. (In my mind's eye, I think they should call it the Otis Campbell Detox Center - giving Mayberry's town drunk a safe place to dry out seems to be sort of the model.) It's a good idea, keeping petty cases out of the courts and giving officers an option to take folks someplace besides jail that won't result in their prosecution.
When a person is intoxicated in public, that individual is vulnerable and endangered and can be a danger to others; it is also a quality of life issue in our neighborhoods. The offense is under 49.02 PC. Currently, such individuals are subject to arrest and jail. This consumes enormous resources in arresting, transporting, booking, jailing and releasing them. Officer time out of service leaves our communities unprotected. Leaving such person on the streets where they can come to harm often engenders ambulance calls and emergency room treatment.
I propose a center, where an officer can transport such individuals, where EMTs monitor them until they are sober and free of symptoms. Personnel can work with those with more serious problems and assist in moving them into recovery and treatment programs or facilities.
This is a cost-effective, humane remedy that will increase public safety and health, and perhaps transform lives in a positive way.
Please be advised that the persons described above are not operating a motor vehicle. DWIs are specifically excluded.
I wonder: What besides funding are the barriers to such an idea? Clearly the commissioners court would be required to pay for such a center and related health services, though that'd likely be cheaper than adding a new jail wing. Are there any legal barriers to police taking someone into custody if they're not arrested pending adjudication? I don't know the answer to that, though at the hearing Chairman Jim McReynolds told Lykos the Corrections Committee would work her on the suggestion.
I'd link to other press coverage on this, but besides earlier Grits posts here and here, there hasn't been any. The idea deserves wider discussion.