Tulsa, OK Criminal Defense & Family Law Blog

Monday, November 30, 2015

Tulsa Considers New Plan for Public Drunkenness Offenders

What are Oklahoma’s incarceration policies for public drunkenness offenders and how might they change in the future?

Currently, in Oklahoma, public drunkenness offenders are booked and held in a facility with the general prison population. Some favor a change of approach for a number of reasons. It is argued that a new policy would benefit police officers, offenders and taxpayers in Oklahoma. The proposed plan is to hire a nonprofit agency to take in public drunkenness offenders instead of having these offenders enter the criminal justice system via prisons. The offenders would be released to the nonprofit agency which would then house the offenders for 10 hours and not charge them for the offense. Their stay there would be confidential. The booking process would be reduced in time from 2 hours necessary if an officer were to bring the offender to the police station, to 10 to 15 minutes if the offender was brought to the nonprofit agency.

Officials say that the current state of affairs negatively affects policing because public drunkenness is unfortunately not able to be prioritized by law enforcement as a public health problem. When a police officer comes across a person who is in violation of the law, the individual is booked and taken to a holding cell in much the same way as a person who has violated a more serious crime. As mentioned earlier, the process takes a very long time. Officers have said that if they’re going to spend 2 hours booking someone anyway, they would rather it be a more serious offender. Therefore, a new policy would allow officers to process public drunkenness offenders more quickly and use more of their valuable time for more serious offenses.

The new policy would also benefit offenders. If the plan currently in negotiation succeeds, offenders would be brought to a nonprofit designed to service those suffering from alcoholism. This, it is felt, would be more helpful than a period of incarceration. The offender would get the chance to sober up at the facility and, hopefully, have a chance to seek treatment.

The new policy is also said to be beneficial for taxpayers. If the nonprofit agency is retained, the booking process would be reduced from 2 hours to 15 minutes. Officers able to utilize the nonprofit agency instead of the police station for booking, would be back on patrol much more quickly. This means that, effectively, Tulsa is putting more officers on patrol.

Taxpayers are presently suffering under the weight of a judicial system already clogged with public drunkenness cases. Under this new plan, public drunkenness cases would stop clogging up the court system. A lesser burden on the courts would mean less expense for taxpayers. Finally, if public drunkenness offenders are not locked up, the cost of housing them would decrease

If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime, you should consult with a criminal defense attorney promptly.

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