The San Diego County Sheriff's Department strongly supports the Serial Inebriate Program (SIP). By addressing the serious issue of chronic inebriation, SIP provides a viable alternative to incarcerating people, many of whom often do not need to be in jail for any reason other than being drunk in public. Reducing recidivism among chronic public inebriates is a cost effective way of reducing the amount of jail resources that need to be devoted to such persons and get them the treatment they need.
The Sheriff's Department has a key role in detaining chronic inebriates in support of their diversion into treatment. By appropriately addressing both physical and mental health issues while in custody, the Sheriff's Medical Services Division (MSD) can help make arrestees accepted into the SIP program better able to succeed in the treatment program.
Chronic inebriates are often in and out of jail for a variety of reasons. Because of their history of chronic substance abuse, they often have significant physical and mental health issues exacerbated by their generally long history of homelessness. Susceptibility to contagious diseases such as TB, Hepatitis and others, are of particular concern.
How SIP impacts the jails:
- Instead of the normal practice of "book and release" for persons charged as a public inebriate, inebriate arrestees meeting program selection criteria will be kept in the jail longer than normal.
- There can be some additional costs for treatment and medication costs as a result of detaining inebriates longer
- However, on a long term basis, SIP can reduce the number of chronic inebriates being brought to jail by identifying and providing diversion for high utilizers of jail services
The Jail Process as it relates to SIP
- The San Diego Police Department (SDPD) Arresting Officer (AO) identifies arrestee as a Chronic Inebriate and transports him/her to a Sheriff's Department Detention Facility; San Diego Central Jail for men and Las Colinas Detention Facility for females. Most SIP referrals involve men from central San Diego being linked to the program although a small number of women do enter the program. In Fiscal Year 2007-08, 88 % of the participants in the program were males. Referrals can also be identified by Detention Facility staff and referred to SIP who can later confirm their eligibility for SIP.
- There is an initial evaluation on whether the arrestee is too intoxicated to go through the booking and medical screening process. If severely intoxicated, an arrestee will be placed in a sobering cell. Sobering cells are monitored closely to ensure proper care and, if clinically indicated, the arrestees will be treated for their withdrawal symptoms. The arrestees are held in the sobering cells for their own protection until such time as they are judged sober enough to go through the intake process.
- Once cleared from the Sobering Cell, the arrestee completes the intake process including booking and a complete medical screening.
- The MSD initiates medical care based upon the initial medical screening including a medically related detoxification regime if appropriate. A psychiatric consultation will be requested, as appropriate, and psychotropic medications prescribed as necessary. Additionally, all arrestees are now provided a digital x-ray up as part of screening process which provides earlier identification of arrestees with possible TB. This enhanced screening helps to ensure that this high risk is screened for TB prior to being released to the community.
- An arrestees bail is set, and unless the bail is met, the arrestee is held in custody.
- The arrestee goes to court - the jail hold remains in place.
- After the court hearing process enrolls the arrestee into the SIP eligible group, Mental Health Systems (MHS) staff evaluates for SIP/alcohol and other drug treatment.
- MHS staff may refer to Sheriff's mental health staff for psychiatric evaluation if appropriate and not already in process. Frequently, MHS staff may return to re-evaluate the arrestee once stabilized on medication which contributes to the quality of the evaluation and possible enrollment in SIP.
- Sheriff's staff coordinates arrestee movement and release to the San Diego Police Department SIP liaison to be sure they are transported directly to treatment from jail.
- Sheriff's mental health staff provides psychiatric discharge medication and a prescription for a 30 day supply to ensure continuity of treatment and stability.
Additional information on how the Sheriff's Detention Services operate may be found in the Jail Public Information Plan at: