Sobering Center is a smart move to help Tulsa residents

The groundbreaking of Tulsa Sobering Center last Thursday marks a progressive arrangement to cut down jail costs and offer a lifeline to residents struggling with substance abuse.

The city of Tulsa is building the center on the property of the nonprofit 12&12, 6333 E. Skelly Drive. It’s a partnrship of experienced social workers and Tulsa Police.

The center will have 42 beds — 25 for men and 17 for women — and will operate 24/7. It will only be available for people picked up for public intoxication, not more serious crimes, such as drunken driving.

With more than half of the municipal inmates at the Tulsa Jail booked for public intoxication at a cost of $69 a day, it makes financial sense to offer social supports over a cell.

The old way required Tulsa Police to spend up to two hours in booking, away from their regular patrols and availability for emergency calls. The arrest would not lead to treatment and potentially add to an already overburdened court system.

Once the Sobering Center opens in a few months, police will spend about 15 minutes at the facility, which will be staffed by mental health professionals. It gives a safe place for an intoxicated person to sober up and then be offered help.

This has been a missing link in the system for years, and we salute Mayor G.T. Bynum and 12&12 for making it happen.

12&12 has the infrastructure, expertise and community network to handle the new arrangement. The nonprofit’s recovery center offers short- and long-term detox treatments and a staff of 170, including psychiatrists, registered nurses and various counselors.

The sobering center makes good financial sense for the city and offers the hope for getting the people held there on a better track for the future.

Original Tulsa World Article can be found by clicking here.