City Gets Progressive on Public Intoxication!
Wow!! Cannot believe what I’m writing! Some unfortunate folks who get arrested for being drunk or overly stoned will NOT end up at Parish Prison, but will get a Valium (?), sleep it off in a dormitory type room with a TV(?), along with counseling and a health assessment.
Officers are being trained to work with the new short term detoxification center, which will begin December 4th. The arresting cops will fill out an intake sheet, some preliminary testing is done and the officers are free to go.
This is positively amazing to me, and I love it!
A key aspect of this program is you cannot be arrested for anything else at the same time. If you are arrested for public urination, criminal trespass, lewd conduct, etc., it’s straight to jail and a neon orange jump suit. If you act stupid or violent, no TV or Valium for you.
Now 75 percent of those arrested for public intoxication are charged with one or more additional crimes, according to an April 2010 arrest study. Few were tourists. 69 percent were Louisiana residents, mostly New Orleanians. One in seven were homeless, and 88 percent were men. This includes both alcohol and drug cases.
At this time, only about three people a day fit the bill with drunk only charges. It’s possible once the word gets out about this new program that some drunks might behave better, thereby avoiding additional charges.
Odyssey House will host the new program at a North Claiborne facility. It’s not a full blown “sobering center” that other cities have, as there’s no money for that now. The state general fund is underwriting this program with substance abuse funds.
This whole program is a money saver, and you can easily see how. Arresting folks takes time, as does booking them, throwing them in the tank, etc. It takes a large staff of criminal sheriffs, police and support staff to accomplish these tasks day after day, week after week, and month after month.
“Everybody agrees we need a better way to address public intoxication in New Orleans,” said Marissa Arrona, senior program associate with the nonprofit Vera Institute of Justice. Vera is working with Orleans Parish officials on the program.