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Santa Clara County to pilot program giving alternative to jail for DUI offenders

Beginning on Monday, the San Jose Police Department will partner with Santa Clara County on a pilot program that gives SJPD officers the option of taking first time misdemeanor Driving Under the Influence arrestees to the Mission Street Recovery Station or MSRS instead of booking them into Santa Clara County Jail.

The MSRS is a non-secured facility operated by Santa Clara County that provides a voluntary, short-term stay for individuals who are not safe to remain in the community due to intoxication. 

Since late 2018, San Jose police officers have used the MSRS as an alternative to incarceration for eligible inebriated individuals, allowing them to regain functionality in a safe place as the effects of alcohol intoxication subside.

“This partnership between the County of Santa Clara and the San Jose Police Department to assist individuals in a community setting serves to improve the health and safety of all residents,” said Javier Aguirre, Director of the Office of Diversion and Reentry Services, in a statement Friday. “We value this collaboration with SJPD Officers as it provides us all another alternative to incarceration and an effective tool to enhance an individual’s ability to recover and seek help.”

The preliminary DUI pilot program will be limited to arrestees who are non-violent, first-time misdemeanor DUI arrestees to avoid spending time in jail, while receiving alcohol-related support services, according to officers. 

This will save arresting officers significant amounts of time by allowing them to avoid the often-lengthy booking process at jail and enable officers to return to their assigned beats in a timely manner, San Jose police said.

The decision of whether or not to offer placement at the MSRS in lieu of booking is at the discretion of the officer and should be made on a case-by-case basis. Additionally, officers can choose the booking alternative any time they feel that booking the arrestee into jail is in the best interest of the arrestee or the public.

Officers will follow all the same investigative procedures when placing the arrestee into the MSRS, exactly similar to when they book arrestees at jail. Officers will issue the arrestee a criminal citation, and follow-up instructions along with service referrals will be provided by MSRS staff onsite. 

“This process will greatly benefit the community by providing a social service-based approach for eligible candidates as an alternative to incarceration,” said San Jose Chief of Police Anthony Mata in a statement Friday. “This program will hold offenders accountable, while also providing them services in the hopes of helping them change their behaviors while enabling recovery.”

Source: NBC Bay Area

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