The facility was created to address public safety issues related to public intoxication more effectively than a jail cell.
The Sobering Center, a joint project between the city of Austin and Travis County, will provide an alternative for individuals who are either in the custody of law enforcement for the offense of public intoxication, or in the care of Austin Travis County Emergency Medical Services for extreme alcohol or drug consumption.
Transporting individuals to the Sobering Center takes less time than arresting a person, according to a city of Austin news release. Because of this, the number of bookings for public intoxication is expected to drop.
Patrick will be responsible for launching the center, hiring staff, overseeing building renovations, improving public health and safety and relieving some of the financial burdens on the criminal justice and emergency medical systems.
The new executive director has a master’s degree in Social Work and Public Administration from University of Houston and was most recently the CEO of the Behavioral Health Alliance of Texas, for which she secured and managed $2.5m in state and federal addiction and maternal health grants, according to the release.
“I would like to thank the board of directors for entrusting me with the honor to serve our city and county towards ensuring what is one of its most important missions, the safety and well-being of our citizens and visitors," Patrick said. "I am looking forward to continuing our work with the business and community leadership, area social service providers and our public officials as we integrate the Sobering Center into the existing continuum of care.”
The center is slated to open in summer 2018 at 1213 Sabine St., Austin, on the site of the former Travis County Medical Examiner’s facility, which is being renovated.
A nonprofit local governmental corporation was formed to oversee the Center by Travis County and the city of Austin in 2016 after a collaborative stakeholder process. Judge Nancy Hohengarten serves as board chair and board members include Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo and Commissioner Margaret Gomez.
“The Sobering Center is an opportunity for those who have made serious mistakes regarding alcohol and drugs to begin the process to correct their mistakes and find the treatment they need," said Margaret Gomez, Travis County commissioner of Precinct 4. "I congratulate Rhonda Patrick and look forward to working with her during her tenure.”
For more information visit www.soberingcenter.org