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I note (at page 3, line 15 and at page 4, line 19) the reference to "alley, park, or parking.” In seeing this reference to "parking,” in this document and in other writings, I have frequently wondered whether the reference is complete and whether it is intended to say something like "parking lot." At any rate, the use of the word "parking" as in this document suggests some further attention by the draftsman with respect to the precise language used.
In the definition of the "chronic alcoholic" at page 6, lines 9 through 14, I would raise the question as to whether the definition is a proper one utilizing the connective in the alternative disjunctive form rather than in the inclusive conjunctive form. Specifically, it would appear to me that the reference to loss of the power of self-control with respect to the use of alcoholic beverages should be an ingredient in any definition of a chronic alcoholic. The loss of self-control with respect to the use of beverages is the thing that creates the non-voli. tional aspect of the behavior in public intoxication cases which suggests that chronic alcoholics should not be punished merely for becoming intoxicated. This is perhaps quite academic and doubtless has been considered by you and such other persons as have been involved in drafting this proposed legislation.
May 1 commend you for your continued efforts in raising the insights of legislators and the courts in providing more realistic and humane treatment for the alcoholies who have done nothing more than become intoxicated and appeared in a public place. Very sincerely yours,
CHARLES Z. SMITII.
A HISTORY OF THE PROBLEMS OF DRUNKENNESS AND ALCOHOLISM IN THE DISTRICT
I. THE ROLE OF THE METROPOLITAN POLICE DEPARTMENT
On January 24, 1934, Congress enacted the District of Columbia Alcoholic Beverage Control Act. That Act included the following addition to the District criminal law:
“No person shall be drunk or intoxicated in any street, alley, park or parking, or in any vehicle in or upon the same or in any place to which the public is invited or at any public gathering and no person anywhere shall be drunk or intoxicated and disturb the peace of any person.”
This statute provided for punishment by a fine of up to $100, or imprisonment for not more than 30 days, or both.
In 1935 the penalty provisions were changed to make the existing penalty provisions applicable only to the first offense, and to add greater penalties for the second and subsequent offenses. The 1935 change provided for a fine of not more than $200, or imprisonment for not more than 60 days, or both, for the second oífense; and a fine of not more than $500, or imprisonment for not more than six months, or both, for a subsequent offense. In 1953, the penalty provisions were again changed, to replace the progressive penalties with a straight penalty of a fine of not more than $100, or imprisonment for not more than 90 days, or both, for any violation of this provision.
Pursuant to these statutory provisions, contained in Section 25–128 of the D.C. Code, the District of Columbia police have arrested persons intoxicated in public throughout the years. A Metropolitan Police Department statistical report prepared in 1956 showed in Table No. 1, the arrests for intoxication for the years 1900-1956. This same Report demonstrated, in Table No. 2, that the District of Columbia had the second highest arrest record for intoxication of the major cities in the country:
The statistics for drunkenness arrests in the District of Columbia for the
utoricate statistica ation for
TABLE No. 3.- Arrests for intoxication
In April 1957 the Report of the Committee on Prisons, Probation and Parole
"That appropriate action be taken by the Chief of Police to encourage the
A July 2, 1957 memorandum to Police Chief Robert V. Murray from Deputy Chief Howard V. Covell made this comment about that recommendation : “A Departmental order could accomplish in a general way the objective sought.
For example, in carrying out this proposed policy, the officer must be convinced that the offender will not danger himself or others; that he can reach his home or other sanctuary by his own efforts or through the assistance of friends, etc."
In a memorandum to the Board of Commissioners on July 9, 1957, Chief Vurray attached this “recommendation,” in which he said, “I concur." The Commissioners took no action, but at a staff meeting on September 18, 1938 the following was stated as Police Department policy:
“District Inspectors shall direct Commanding Officers to instruct members of their commands, wherever reasonable and proper, to permit a person under the influence of alcoholic beverage to go home instead of arresting him. Provided, the person's condition is such that he is not likely to injure himself or others and is not likely to be a source of public complaint or a subject of a police report."
This statement of policy was reaffirmed at a staff meeting on December 7, 1965.
It is obvious that, since one of the police criteria for arrest is whether the intoxicated person has a home to which he can be sent or taken, this policy inherently discriminates against the homeless skid row derelict. It is essentially these people who comprise the arrest statistics previously cited.
In mid-1965 the Department of Public Health developed plans for a Detoxification Center in the District of Columbia. The Department's plans were endorsed on October 1, 1965, in a letter from Chairman Herbert J. Miller, Jr., of the President's Commission on Crime in the District of Columbia to the Board of Commissioners, in which he stated that "Police cooperation would of course be essential." It was proposed that the Police would bring intoxicated individuals to the Detoxification Center without charging them with any violation of law, rather than to the precinct for booking. The Police Department, on the advice of Acting Corporation Counsel Milton Korman, resisted this proposal on the ground that District of Columbia law? requires policemen to arrest any person who is found to have violated the law, and that in any event the Police have authority to detain a person only if they intend to charge him with a violation of law. This interpretation was the subject of considerable discussion between the Police, the Corporation Counsel, the Health Department, and the President's Commission on Crime in the District of Columbia. After a meeting on March 16, 1966 called by Mr. Charles Horsky, Presidential Adviser for National Capital Affairs, Mr. Korman agreed that although the inebriates taken to the Detoxification Center would be arrested, an Assistant Corporation Counsel would screen the cases of people taken to the Detoxification Center each morning and would enter a nolle prosequi for those who signify a willingness to remain and accepit medical treatment. This remained unacceptable to the President's Commission on Crime in the District of Columbia, but the matter was dropped at this point. It has remained moot because of the failure of the Department of Public Health to provide the planned Detoxification Center. H.R. 6143 will make clear the common law rule that any incapacitated inebriate in need of medical assistance may be taken to an appropriate public health facility for necessary help.
On October 14, 1966 Court of General Sessions Judge DeWitt S. Hyde made a comment from the bench in the D. C. Branch that District policemen may face false arrest suits if they continue to arrest for public intoxication persons known to have previously been adjudged chronic alcoholics. Deputy Chief of Police John S. Hughes issued a memorandum to the entire force on that same day advising that the Easter decision "does not, by itself, render a person immune to arrest.” This matter was then referred to Mr. David G. Bress, United States Attorney for the District of Columbia. Mr. Bress wrote the Chief of Police on October 27, 1966, stating that “the power of police to arrest for public drunkenness is unaffected by the decision in Easter." Mr. Bress went on to say that:
"It is not the function of the police to determine that a person drunk in public is or is not a chronic alcoholic. That function is a judicial one to be determined by the court."
1 Section 4-143 of the D.C. Code. H.R. 6143 will make clear that the Police may properly assist disorderly inebriates rather than arrest them.
9 See Washington Star, October 14, 1966, page A1; Washington Post, October 15, 1966, page B1.
This had the effect of continuing the prior policy to arrest primarily the intoxicated derelict, and to let other intoxicated citizens alone, H.R. 6143 is intended to eliminate this police persecution of the derelict inebriate.
II. THE ROLE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTII
The District of Columbia Department of Public Health has estimated that there are approximately 50,000 alcoholics of all types within the District of Columbia' and another 50,000 alcoholics in the surrounding suburban area. Because the District is a large urban center approximately 10%-20% of the alcoholies who reside in it are of the destitute, homeless, skid row type. The Department estimates that about 15% of all skid row derelicts are problem drinkers. This figure has apparently remained fairly steady for the past ten years.
The Department also estimates that there are an additional 50,000 alcoholics in the suburban area surrounding the District. Relatively few of these are derelict alcoholics.
In 1945 the Washington Committee for Education on Alcoholism, the predecessor to the Washington, D.C. Area Council on Alcoholism, was organized. It was instrumental in establishing the first alcoholism programs within the District of Columbia Department of Health.
In July 1945 a part-time Clinic for the treatment of alcoholics was opened, the first modern alcoholism clinic in the country under the authority of a public agency. It was staffed largely by volunteer workers, but was officially a part of the newly established Bureau of Mental Hygiene in the Health Department. Dr. Leopold E. Wexberg became Director of the Bureau of Mental Hygiene on Norember 1, 1945, and proceeded to build up the alcoholism program. Under his direction, a second Clinic was also established, after the first was quickly swamped with patients.
In 1946 a series of jailbreaks led to the establishment of a special Subcommittee
The 19 17 statute also provides that, in any criminal case in which the evi-
District of Columbia Department of Public Health Alcoholic Rehabilitation Division,
**Rehabilitation of Alcoholics," Hearings before the Subcommittee on Health, Education,
One of the important provisions of the 1947 statute directed the D.C. Commissioners to appoint an alcoholism advisory committee, composed of six outstanding residents of the District, to advise and consult with them in carrying out the provisions of the new law. A separate Advisory Committee was initially appointed and did participate in the early work of the Alcoholism Rehabilitation Clinic. Within a few years, however, the committee feil into disse. Under the present Director of the Department of Public llealth, all advisory committees have been merged into one Public Health Advisory Council, and the problem of alcoholism has been relegated to a Subeommittee of the Committee on Mental Health. That Subcommittee, moreover, is concerned with drug addiction and correctional problems as well as with alcoholism.
Thus, the concept of an active Advisory Committee, closelr orerseeing and participating in the work of the Alcoholic Rehabilitation Division, pas completely lost. H.R. 6143 will restore that concept, either by again making the Advisory Committee a separate functioning body or by making it a separate Committee directly under the Public Health Advisory Council.
On February 14, 1930, almost three years after the enactment of the 1947 statute, the President of the Board of Commissioners, Vr. John Russell Yeung. wrote to Chief Judge George P. Barse of the unicipal Court oi the District of Columbia to certify the outpatient Alcoholic Rehabilitation Program Clinic for use under the 1947 Act. This letter stated that the Clinie could handle “a maximum load of 120 cases" at the "average rate of 4 cases each weekday.” Its maximum projected case load was only 200 cases at the average rate of 5 cases per trekday.
Mr. Young's letter explicitly stated that “there are, however, no facilities for the confinement and hospitalization of chronic alcoholics committed to it by the Municipal Court for treatment." The letter explains that any hospitalization required for chronic alcoholics would be provided at D. C. General Hospital. but that "because of lack of funds and of bed space," such hospitalization would "not be for any extended period during the course of treatment."
The results obtained by this Clinic were the subject of a paper by Dr. Werberg. Reports on Government-Sponsored Programs: The Outpatient Treatment of Alcoholism in the District of Columbia, 14 Quarterly Journal of Studies on Alcohol 514 (1953). Dr. Wexberg reported that, in the period of February 18, 1960-October 1, 1962, the Clinic had seen 1,075 voluntary patie!ts, 380 courtreferred patients, and 821 “nonregistered applicants” who came only once, usually for emergency medical treatment. Dr. Wexberg offered the following conclusions :
"It is our opinion that the expectation of help to the sick has been to a considerable degree vindicated by the Alcoholic Rehabilitation Program Clinic. But the relief for police, courts and penal institutions has not materialized. The reason for this was pointed out as long as 2 years ago by the Director of the Alcohol Rehabilitation Program: The destitute alcoholic, who is at the same time the chronic repeater at the courts, can be reached ouly to a small degree by an outpatient facility. Our statistics prove this fact. * * *
"The only answer to this problem is the candid admission that an outpatient clinic without residential facilities at its disposal does not work for destitute alcoholics. Three resources would be needed : (1) a 'hostel,' that is, a boardinghome where alcoholics could be admitted and allowed to stay, in it controlled environment, until they are well on their way toward rehabilitation. * * * (2) a hospital word for the short-term care of acutely ill alcoholics, segregated from psychiatric wards. * * * (3) an institution for the long-terin detention of alcoholics and for the custodial care of incurable alcoholics.” Pages 522-523.
Thus, at least 14 years ago it was realized that the District's homeless, destitute alcoholics could not be helped by an outpatient clinic "without adequate residential facilities," and that "real help for alcoholics of all types would require a boardinghome, a hospital ward, and an institution for alcoholics requiring interment, in addition to the Alcoholic Rehabilitation Program outpatient clinie now in existenre." Page 524. H.R. 6143 will uow provide those facilities that should have been provided long ago.
Undoubtedly because of Dr. Wexberg's emphasis on the importance of residential facilities, Mr. Samuel Spencer, l’resident of the District of Columbia Board of Commissioners, wrote to Chief Judge Leonard E. Walsh of the Municipal Court for the District of Columbia on March 30, 19:34, certifying on a limited basis a small part of D. C. General Hospital and the D. O. Workhouse for experimental inpatient treatment. The number of alcoholies to be committed each week was