HOUSTON (CBS Houston) Instead of incarcerating those who have had too much to drink in public, there is a place in which they can receive support and sober up. A new sobering center in Houston is seen as one that will serve as an alternative to those who would otherwise face public intoxication charges as well as jail time; the new center will allow those individuals gain mental clarity and receive support.
The sobering center in Houston will soon be ready for business and Houston’s Mayor Annise Parker cut the ribbon for the opening of the new facility Thursday.
Mayor Parker says that the new sobering center is one that will help not only the city of Houston, but individuals who have had too much to drink: “This is an innovative solution to a costly problem that diverts our police from other matters and crowds the city jail,” said Mayor Parker. “It is the first step toward the city’s long-term goal of getting out of the jail business. My goals are reduced costs, easing of jail overcrowding and safer streets. My hope for the individuals who wind up here is real change in their lives,” Parker said.
The sobering center, which is meant to be an alternative to jail for people whose only offense is public intoxication, will have an opportunity to receive the support and stamina they need within a medically-monitored environment.
“Once detainees are sober, they will meet with professional counselors who will offer long-term treatment referrals to appropriate social service agencies. By not booking these offenders into the city jail, officers are able to return to their neighborhood patrols more quickly,” stated officials at the office of Mayor Annise Parker.
Houston Recovery Center Board Chair Kay Austin sees the new center as one that allows for a better alternative for those whose only crime is public intoxication: “With the opening of this center, Houston has adapted a more humane response to those with mental illness who are homeless and those with addiction disorders,” said Austin.
Additional information from the officer of Mayor Parker states that the sobering center is an 84-bed facility located in a two-story building at 150 North Chenevert Steet.
“It will be managed by a local government corporation created last year by Houston City Council. Annual operating costs are expected to be $1.5 million, compared to the $4 – 6 million it currently costs to process public intoxication cases at the city jail,” added officials.
The center will formally begin accepting detainees in the next few weeks and offers an option for individuals who have only public intoxication as their crime; it is not meant to house individuals who have committed other crimes or have outstanding warrants. The center also offers separate facilities for both men and women.