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The Sobering Center is an important community resource.

As such, the Center is uniquely positioned to help shift the community response to behaviors that stem from substance use disorder away from a criminal justice approach to one centered in supportive public health. Statistically, Central Texas ranks high in binge drinking among adults and focusing efforts on improving access to support services like community-based treatment and lower level medical care is a step in preserving the quality of life in our community.

On any given day, it is estimated that about 60% of Travis County Jail residents meet the criteria for substance abuse or dependence. We have diverted over 4,000 publicly intoxicated individuals from jail and saved taxpayers over $500,000 in booking fees. Considering that law enforcement accounts for 70% of referrals to the Sobering center, we have considerable opportunity to relieve pressure from jails while also addressing a client’s underlying behaviors that may stem from substance use disorder. The need for intervention and referrals to additional services like community-based addiction treatment is critical and serves as a long-term investment to decrease the amount of people with substance use disorder in jails.

*Per the Travis County Sheriff’s Office

Clients Diverted From Hospitals

Clients Diverted From Jail

Clients Served

Where the Sobering Center Comes In

Arresting and caring for people who become Publicly Intoxicated doesn’t allow them to get the treatment referrals that could help them avoid public intoxication in the future and increase their quality of life.

Public Intoxication leads people to the criminal justice system. The Sobering Center can help avoid that path.

Transporting individuals to the Sobering Center takes much less time than arresting a person. Since the inception of the Sobering Center, jail bookings for new Public Intoxication Class C Misdemeanors have decreased by about 45% since FY18, the year before the Center opened. Additionally, many in law enforcement prefer a non-punitive solution to the problem.

Under the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Art. 14.031.(c) In lieu of arresting an individual, a peace officer may release the individual if they verbally consent to voluntary admission to a facility that provides a place for individuals to become sober under supervision (a Sobering Center), and the facility admits the individual for supervision. When admitted into the Sobering Center, the individual does not receive a PI Citation (PI does not go on your public record), EMS transport bill, and there are no costs for Sobering Center Services.

How the Sobering Center Helps

For Individuals:
– Provides a safe place to sober up
– Prevents criminal justice system involvement
– Offers Peer counseling
– Provides referrals for treatment

For City/County services:
– Frees up police to return to their patrol to handle more serious offenses
– Allows emergency medical services to focus on more critical emergencies
– Reduces crowding in jails and wait time for officers booking other offenders
– Reduces utilization of Emergency Rooms
– Saves booking costs: In 2016, there were 2,669 bookings for Public Intoxication for a total cost of $400,350 (BASED ON AN ESTIMATE OF $150 PER BOOKING)

Why Central Texas Needs the Sobering Center >>

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