Trying to find ways to ensure the city’s budget is leaner, yet effective, Houston City Council voted to approve spending $4.3 million on a sobering center–an 84-bed detox facility for folks arrested for public intoxication.
Police officers who detain people whose only crime is being drunk in public will have the option of dropping them off at the so-called sobering center for at least a four-hour stay without an arrest on their record. Because the drop-offs are much quicker than jail bookings, police would return to patrol sooner.
Although this is a big victory for Mayor Parker, CM Ed Gonzalez was the lead member of Council on driving home the need for this center.
“We do not guarantee outcomes here. There’s nothing to say that we’re going to rehabilitate anyone,” said Councilman Ed Gonzalez, a former Houston police officer and the chief council champion for the center, “but the chances of removing them from the criminal justice system into a different model is more likely to be much, much more effective and likely to save taxpayers millions and millions of dollars over the course of the next few years.”
Gonzalez’s press release gives us a bigger picture regarding the savings.
Roughly 20% of Houston’s $25 million a year jail operation cost is attributed to public intoxication cases. The sobering center will not only provide citizens with the treatment they need and provide law enforcement officers more time to patrol against more violent crimes, it will save our city money.
Meanwhile, Helena Brown thinks private industry should fund such a facility and, apparently, feels that more cops on the street and more money in city coffers is bad.
“This will be like a slow cancer that will contribute to the death of a city.”
Are you listening (or reading), District A?
Kudos to the rest of the City Council, anyway.
Side-Note: Now that we will have a sobering center, I would like to remind you that some of our early voting centers have earned the name “So Boring Centers,” because you all aren’t voting. Get out there and vote today in the Democratic Primary!