VIDEO: San Jose pilot program to offer sobering stations instead of jail for those caught drunk in public


SAN JOSE (KRON) — It’s a community facility, not a correctional institution, so say the proponents of a pilot program in the South Bay that provides an alternative to jailing and prosecuting intoxicated individuals.

A new sobering center is now open in San Jose. Until Wednesday, people who are picked up for being drunk in public end up in the already overcrowded county jail.

But now, if not suspected or connected with a crime, they might end up at the Mission Street sobering center where they can do just that–get sober and some help into the bargain.

“Currently, what often happens is the police often pick them up and take them to the emergency room,” Director of Regional Workforce Development at California Institute for Mental Health Toni Tullys said. “Depending on their behavior, this would allow them to avoid jail, avoid emergency services, and just get what they need.”

What they need, at least for starters, those for the pilot program say, is a place to sleep it off.

The public inebriates can get something to eat, get sober, and be assessed regarding their mental health status–and get referred to treatment services as needed.

“Hot tea, something to eat and drink, hot showers, a real comfortable recliner, and then 8-12 hours later, they can walk out the door, and they can talk to somebody who can connect them with more services,” Tullys said.

Managed through a contract with Horizon Services, the sobering center is expected to eliminate unnecessary paramedic trips, free up space in the jails and emergency rooms, and improve public safety by freeing up law enforcement resources.



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