SALEM, Ore. - The Oregon House approved legislation Thursday to pave the way for more sobering centers to be constructed and operated in communities across the state, with Deschutes County one of the first prepared to open such a facility.
Co-chief sponsored by Reps. Duane Stark (R-Grants Pass) and Knute Buehler (R-Bend), HB 2175 lifts the cap on the number of sobering centers that may operate within Oregon.
“Sobering facilities offer a safe alternative for individuals who are acutely intoxicated to regain sobriety and to have the opportunity to come into contact with rehabilitation programs,” Stark said. “Allowing these facilities statewide opens the door for Oregonians who might not otherwise seek help.”
Law enforcement officials praised passage of HB 2175 as an important part of a community-based effort to limit dangerous overdoses in Oregon communities.
“I am thankful the Oregon Legislature passed HB 2175," said Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson. "This was one of the last hurdles to opening our Crisis Stabilization and Sober Center here in Deschutes County.”
“We look forward to having this facility as another option to divert people from the criminal justice system when appropriate, and as an opportunity to open a door to treatment so people can stay on the path of being a productive citizen.”
Marion County Sheriff Jason Myers added, "Sobering centers are a very important component for our local public safety systems. Sadly, most Oregon communities do not have this kind of resource so individuals suffering from intoxication end up in our local jails and Emergency Departments to sober up.
"House Bill 2175 allows for the expansion of these types of facilities in Oregon. I applaud Representative Stark for his leadership on this important public safety topic and the Oregon House of Representatives for passing this bill."
In 2015, the Legislative Assembly adopted legislation promoting the use of sober facilities in Oregon and requiring the Oregon Health Authority to maintain a registry of sobering facilities. The legislation capped the number of facilities that could register across the state at three.
HB 2175 removes the cap and allows additional sober facilities around the state to be registered.
Supporters said sobering centers provide a much-needed option for law enforcement and crisis service providers to take individuals who are acutely intoxicated on drugs or alcohol.
That diverts individuals with mental health conditions and substance use disorders from jail and the emergency room. Any individual who checks into a sober facility may obtain mental health and substance abuse services.
"This is a creative, community-based solution to keep people safe and healthy,” Buehler said. “Our public safety system needs more innovative ideas like this that emphasize compassion and rehabilitation - rather than incarceration and punishment."
HB 2175 passed the House unanimously. The bill now moves to the Senate for further consideration.