Tulsa, Oklahoma is reinventing the justice system in relation to public intoxication. The city has decided that not everyone who is arrested for this offense are criminals. People can choose to get better at the Tulsa Sobering Center.
Residents in Tulsa who are caught for public intoxication are forced to stay in their holding cell for ten hours. This time is meant to allow people to sober up. Then, they are given two choices. They can decide to enter themselves into rehab, or they can go home. Their criminal record will not be added on with either of these choices.
Oklahoma has one of the highest numbers of incarcerations in America. In Tulsa, 60% of the arrested people are arrested for public intoxication. With this new system, Tulsa will decrease their rate of incarceration at a high amount. There is hope that this will reduce costs too.
Arrested people belong to two groups. Some are first time offenders – these people have made a severe accident. The other group of people is repeaters. Many of them have a serious problem with substance abuse and have been arrested many times already. These people need medical help.
High incarceration rates happen because of repeat offenders. There aren’t a lot of new people who do a crime, but jails have not been effective in stopping people from repeating after they are released. Tulsa is tackling the root of the problem. By understanding offenders need medical help, the goal is to prevent people from repeating the crime. This brings the incarceration to a lower rate.
There are many benefits to Tulsa’s system. Tulsa has been able to cut time and money costs. It costs the city 69$ a day to keep someone in jail. Police officers take 90 minutes to book people. That’s 90 minutes where an officer cannot be stopping violent crimes.
When people recover, arrests will decrease too because fewer people are abusing alcohol and other drugs. Many people who are arrested will choose to get help when they are offered the chance. Being arrested feels like a shallow point in life. A lot of substance abusers are already feeling guilty.
Repeat offenders do not want to continue to rely on drugs. Many times they are not given the opportunity to recover. The mayor of Tulsa said that most people who are given the option would choose to get better at a rehab center. They do not want to go home and repeat the same offense.
Since the program has been started, 391 people have been sent to rehab instead of jail. Only 21 people who have left rehab have been arrested once again. Alcohol abuse is chronic, so this success rate is marvelous.
The program is still small, but Tulsa is looking to expand it. The continual growth of participants supports them.
Tulsa Sobering Center is a nonprofit organization. The city does spend $250,000 on this center. It is not the only center in the country that police can bring people to for sobering up. However, it is one of the first to help offenders detox with trained medical staff.