New Sobering Center Could Help Houston Save Money, Change Lives
by: Jack Williams, March 7, 2013 4:03:00 pm
The 84-bed facility is tucked behind the Star of Hope homeless shelter just a few blocks from Minute Maid Park.
Officially known as the "Houston Recovery Center", it will serve as an alternative to jail and a criminal record for people picked-up for public intoxication. This is Houston Mayor Annise Parker.
"The officer will bring them here to the sobering center. The officer completes a one-page form and officially logs what is a prisoner at that point into the custody of our sobering center. Then that officer is back out on patrol on the streets serving the citizens of Houston, and we have the opportunity for an appropriate intervention."
The facility will cost the city about $1.5 million a year to operate compared to the $6 million that's spent right now to process public intoxication cases through the city jail. HPD makes around 17,000 public intoxication arrests a year. Chief Charles McClelland says the new sobering center will help conserve valuable resources.
"If our officers have options and the community has resources to deal with these issues long-term to slow-down the recidivism rate, I'm going to have more resources to then apply to more serious offenders and more serious crimes in our neighborhoods."
People who end up in the sobering center will have access to counseling and intervention services. HPD's Mental Health unit will be headquartered on the center's second floor.