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Houston To Open Up ‘Sobering Center’

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File photo of Houston Mayor Annise Parker. (credit: Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)

File photo of Houston Mayor Annise Parker. (credit: Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)

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HOUSTON (AP) — People accused of being drunk in public in Houston will have an alternative to jail.

City officials on Tuesday announced plans for a so-called “sobering center” at the Star of Hope Mission.

Mayor Annise Parker says jailing people whose only crime is public intoxication diverts law officers from more serious offenses. Parker also hopes to ease jail crowding.

Houston police arrest about 19,000 people annually for public intoxication, at a jail cost of up to $6 million.

About $3 million in public safety bonds will be used for the 84-bed sobering center, opening by late 2012.

The facility would not be for suspected drunken drivers or anyone with outstanding warrants. Detainees would be held at least four hours, to sober up and avoid an arrest record.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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