Box 3, Folder 15, Document 15

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March 16, 1967


Skid Row has long been recognized as the bilge of our communities. And
the derelict inebriates who reside there represent perhaps the lowest form of
humanity, For centuries, these derelict alcoholics have been virtually ignored,
not only by the average citizen, but indeed by the very public officials who are
charged by statute with caring for them. Instead of receiving the attention and
help that they deserve and so urgently need, they have received nothing but private
disdain and public condemnation. They have been herded mercilessly through our
courts and jails, in every city in this country, and especially in Atlanta, in an
endless and futile parade.

Early last year two United States Courts of Appeals sought to put an end to
this senseless parade. These courts recognized, as anyone who stops to think
about it must recognize, that this was a parade as much of our nation's blind
stupidity as it was of the serious affliction -- chronic alcoholism -- from which
these unfortunate people are suffering. It is these legal decisions, and the
ramifications that they will inevitably have upon Atlanta and the entire State of
Georgia, which I will discuss today. I will be as forthright as I can be in my
remarks. And I trust that you, in turn, will be forthright in your comments and
criticisms of my suggestions.


It is appropriate to begin by asking whether Atlanta has a problem of this
kind. After all, if you are fortunate enough to have no Skid Row, to have no
derelict alcoholics, or to provide humane and, enlightened treatment for your
chronic inebriate population, then we need proceed no further.

The facts that have been made available to me denonstrate that Atlanta does,
indeed, have a very grave problem. Both a Georgia statute and an Atlanta ordinance
prohibit public intoxication. In Atlanta, there were 40,811 arrests for drunkenness
during 1966, and an additional 6,494 arrests for "drunk and disorderly," making
a grand total of 47,305 arrests for intoxication. And this figure would be
substantially increased if arrests for other offenses closely related to intoxi-
cation, such as vagrancy and loitering, were included.

The recent Report of the President's Commision on Law Enforcement and
Administration of Justice, released. to the public just last month, has singled
out Atlanta and the District of Columbia as the two jurisdictions where chronic
inebriate offenders are most harshly persecuted with constant arrest and conviction
for public intoxication. On a per capita basis, the District of Columbia seems
to have outstripped Atlanta slightly in its zeal to put these men in jail,
according to the 1965 statistics used by the President's Commission. As a result
of the Easter case, however, Atlanta may by now have taken over from the District
of Columbia the dubious distinction of being the Nation's leading exponent of
the theory that sick men should be arrested and convicted for displaying the
symptoms of their illness in public.

During one sample month, November 1966, approximately one-third of the
persons arrested for intoxication in Atlanta paid a $15 fine before coming to
court. By paying this fine, they avoided the distasteful experience of appearing


in Drunk Court. The remaining two-thirds apparently could not raise $15 and
therefore had no choice but to be brought before the Court.

I have made no study of the Atlanta drunkenness offenders, and therefore
can only extrapolate from national data and rely upon local data obtained from
your State officials. But a national survey conducted during the past two years
has indicated that between 90% and 95% of the drunkenness offenders who are not
able to pay a fine upon arrest, and who therefore are forced to appear in Drunk
Court, have very serious drinking problems. As I shall describe later, these
Statistics have been confirmed with a vengeance in our District of Columbia
Drunk Court during the past 12 months. And I would imagine that the situation is
no different in Atlanta.

In a study conducted by Emory University during 1962 and 1963, it was found
that 6,000 chronic alcoholics accounted for 30,000 arrests. More recently, the
Emory staff has concluded that Atlanta has a population of up to 12,000 individual
chronic inebriate offenders. Whether the correct figure is 6,000 or 12,000,
or somewhere. between, it is readily apparent that the problem is staggering.

It could be dismissed only by assuming what the President's Commission on Crime

in the District of Columbia has described as "a callous disregard for human life."
And it can be attacked only ty what that Commission has characterized as "a
determination for the first time to grapple with the deep-seated disabilities

of the City's derelicts."

Now let us look at the kind of help given to these people by the City of
Atlanta. Again, I rely upon information that has been furnished to me.

It is my understanding that, as a result of the first Emory study, a

comprehensive plan to attack the problem of the chronic inebriate offender in
Atlanta was drawn up. Although bits and snatches have been implemented, it has
basically gone unheeded.

Drunken derelicts who are arrested receive no routine medical treatment,
and are taken to Grady Memorial Hospital only if they exhibit a serious medical
problem. Nor is medical help or rehabilitation services available at the Stockade,
where they are sent after conviction.

Paradoxically, Atlanta has a reputation throughout the country of progressive
treatment for alcohlics. The Georgian Clinic is frequently cited for its work --
but I was distressed to learn just a few days ago that it has only 50 beds, and
is expected to serve not just Atlanta, but the entire State of Georgia. The
Emory University Alcohol Project has also been receiving nation-wide attention --
but, again, I was distressed to learn that its patients apparently come only from
prison, not from the streets, and only for vocational rehabilitation, not for
general treatment for their alcoholism.

Finally, your State Legislature has enacted a statute for the rehabilitation
of alcoholics. But a perusal of that statute readily demonstrates that it is
far more punitive than any criminal statute could be. Upon determination that
an individual is a chronic alcoholic who is in need of hospitalization, and
upon agreement by the Department of Health to admit the individual as a patient,
that man can be held against his will for an indeterminate length of time. There
is not even a requirement that the court find that he is dangerous to the public
safety, or that the Department of Health has adequate and appropriate treatment
programs and facilities for him. Ant it is readily apparent that in Atlanta and
the State of Georgia today, there is no adequate and appropriate treatment program
or facilities for derelict alcoholics.


Thus, there is no question but that Atlanta and the State of Georgia do
have a problem. There is good reason for all of you to come here today to consider
this matter.


The problem of public drunkenness has been with us for centuries, Under
early English common law, public intoxication was not considered criminal activity.
Drunkenness was considered entirely proper unless it resulted in an illegal
breach of the peace.

Mere public intoxication was first made a criminal offense by an English
statute in 1606. And, today, it remains a criminal offense, with varying
penalties, in virtually every part of the United States.

We need not trace, today, the history of the criminal law as it has applied
to alcoholism from 1606 to the present. Suffice it to say that the early courts
concluded thet, because alcoholism is a voluntarily-acquired disease, an alcoholic's
drinking must be deemed to be voluntary as a matter of law. And since it is 4
well-established legal principle that an individual is responsible for all of
his voluntary acts, alcoholics have been held criminally liable for their public
intoxication, and any anti-social behavior it has caused, down through the years.

The health professions have recognized, of course, that an alcoholic does
not drink voluntarily. In 1947, the United States Congress enacted a District
of Columbia statute, based upon the best available medical testimony, which
explicitly recognized that an alcoholic has lost control over his drinking.
In 1956, the American Medical Association officially recognized chronic alcoholism
as an illness which should properly be treated by physicians. And in 1966,
the courts caught up to the legislatures and to the medical profession.


I would like to take a moment to describe the two recent court decisions
because of their fundamental importance to the subject we are considering today.

Both cases were based upon the conclusion that chronic alcoholism is now
universally accepted as an illness. In Easter v. District of Columbia, the
United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit held that
because a, chronic alcoholic drinks involuntarily, as a result of the disease
with which he is afflicted rather than as a result of his own volition, he
cannot be branded as a criminal. The Court recognized that public intoxication
is only a symptom of the disease of chronic alcoholism, and ruled that common
law principles preclude criminal conviction merely for exhibiting a symptom of
a disease in public.

In Driver v. Hinnant, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth
Circuit reached the same result, but on Constitutional grounds. The Fourth
Circuit held that to convict a chronic alcoholic for his public intoxication,
which is merely the inherent symptom of a serious illness, would violate the
prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment contained in the Eighth
Amendment to the United States Constitution.


These decisions represent rare unanimity in our Federal courts. A total
of 11 judges considered these two cases -- the full en banc court of 8 judges
in the Easter case, and a panel of 3 judges in the Driver case. Not one judge
dissented from the conclusion that an alcoholic may no longer be convicted for
his public intoxication.

It makes no difference whether this result is reached by the Constitutional
approach used in the Driver case, or by the common law approach of the Easter
case. The conclusion is the same. No longer may the age-old problem of the
chronic inebriate be handled by the criminal process. A new method of handling
this problem must, under these decisions, be found by our local communities.

The Easter and Driver decisions are not legally binding in the courts of
the State of Georgia. But it is just a matter of time before the results of
those cases will become applicable here. Unlike public officials in the District
of Columbia, you still have a little time to head off a real crisis before it
occurs. Georgia has the choice whether to take advantage of the time left before
action is forced upon it, or simply to sit back and ignore the problem. I would
certainly urge that immediate action be taken, that intelligent long-range plans
be formulated, and that the type of chaos that has followed the Easter decision
in the District of Columbia thereby be avoided. I will now turn to discuss the
planning and the new procedures that should be instituted in Atlanta and the
State of Georgia.


No individual, and no single group, can possibly undertake a program to
replace the present revolving door handling of indigent inebriates through the
courts and jails of Georgia, by a modern program of rehabilitation and public
health facilities. It will take a community of effort, among all public officials
and all interested private groups, to make a revolutionary program of this kind
become meaningful. I will therefore discuss the role that I believe the police,
the prosecuting attorneys, the judiciary, and public health personnel should play
in undertaking new procedures for handling the chronic court inebriate problem.

In discussing this, I shall rely heavily upon two authoritative reports
just recently issued: the Report of the President's Commission on Crime in the
District of Columbia, released to the public on January 1 of this year, and the
Report of the President's Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of
Justice, released on February 19. I acted as a consultant to both Commissions,
and I am happy to state that the Commissions and I were in virtually complete
agreement on the recommendations that they should make with regard to the handling
of public intoxication by local communities. The two Reports are, in my opinion,
essential reading for anyone interested in the chronic court inebriate problen.

A. Let us first examine the police handling of chronic inebriate offenders.
In my opinion, it is not a false arrest for a policeman to charge an unknown
inebriate with public intoxication, even after the Haster and Driver decisions.
The police cannot be required, at their peril, to make a judgment on the street
as to whether an intoxicated individual is or is not a chronic alcoholic.

In the case of known alcoholics, however, this problem raises a far more
difficult legal issue. To some, the availability of the defense of chronic
alcoholism still seems more properly an issue for the courts than for the police.
But to a growing number of responsible lawyers, who have watched the District
of Columbia police persecute chronic inebriates by daily arrest after the


Easter and Driver decisions, any police detention of a known chronic alcoholic
for his public intoxication should be condemned as illegal, as well as unconscionable,
This is therefore still an unresolved legal issue.

But more important, the community should not place the police in jeopardy
in this way. There is no reason why the police should be burdened with the
ignominious task of sweeping chronic inebriates off the public streets. Last
September I was called upon to assist a man who had been arrested 38 times for
drunkenness in the District of Columbia just since the Easter decision. When you
take into consideration the amount of time he spent incarcerated in jail and in
various hospitals, this amounted to 1 arrest for every 2 days that he appeared
on the public streets. Certainly, the answer to the Easter and Driver decisions
is not just to arrest derelict alcoholics every day, duly bring them to trial,
and then immediately release them onto the streets without assistance, only to
repeat the process over and over again. This succeeds in speeding up the revolving
door, and in the persecution and further degradation of chronic inebriates. It
cannot contribute to the elimination of these abuses, as the Easter and Driver
decisions demand.

In my opinion, the police can and should take two immediate steps to end
the revolving door process, pending development of a broader community program
which I will discuss later in this talk. First, they should assist any drunken
person to his home, whenever that is possible. Second, where an individual is
unable to take care of himself, the police should assist him to an appropriate
public health facility where he can receive the necessary medical attention.
Under no circumstances should they arrest known alcoholics time and time again.

The question arises, of course, whether the police may properly assume
responsibility for intoxicated individuals and escort them to an appropriate
public health facility to received proper medical attention. If the inebriate
does not consent, would the police incur liability for a false arrest?

I have long been of the view that the police have duties of a civil nature,
in addition to their responsibility for enforcing the criminal law. When a
policeman escorts a heart attack victim to the hospital, he certainly is not
arresting him. Thus, in my opinion, the police have not only a right, but
indeed a duty, to take unwilling intoxicated citizens, who appear to be unable
to take care of themselves, whether or not they are alcoholics, to appropriate
public health facilities. Certainly, this question should be resolved immediately
preferably by enactment of a state statute, in order to lay the necessary legal
foundation for the proper medical handling of alcoholics.

I am confident of one thing about our police personnel. Once new procedures
are instituted for handling the chronic court inebriate as a public health problem,
the police will be only too happy to cooperate. The police have long suffered under
the public's command that they daily sweep this human refuse from the streets, a
task which provided no possible benefit for their unfortunate victims. They will
be only too happy to see the old system replaced by procedures which will allow
them to help these people back on the road to recovery, rather than just push
them further down into their sodden Skid Row environment.

B. With regard to the handling of chronic alcoholics by prosecuting attorneys,
it is instructive to refer to the Canons of Ethics of the American Bar Association.
Canon 5 provides that "the primary duty of the lawyer engaged in public prosecution
is not to convict, but to see that justice is done."


This does not mean, of course, that a prosecutor is obligated to defend the
man that he is prosecuting. It does mean, however, that he is obligated to make
certain that an innocent man is not convicted. And in the context of the Easter
and Driver decisions, this means, in my judgment, that a prosecuting attorney is
obligated either to drop the charges, or at the very least to inform the judge of
the relevant facts, whenever he has reason to believe that a defendant may have
available to him the defense of chronic alcoholism. It is then up to the judge
to protect the defendant's rights.

A truly responsible prosecutor, moreover, would take it upon himself to review
the defendant's record prior to any court proceeding, and to make appropriate
recommendations to the court on his own motion. The prosecutor is, after all, an
arm of the court and a representative of the community. As such, he cannot
properly remain neutral. He should therefore take affirmative steps to make
recommendations for the non-criminal handling of ary chronic alcoholic he is
assigned to prosecute.

Of course, prosecutors are not qualified to diagnose alcoholism. In most
instances, however, the defendant's past record will readily demonstrate a
drinking problem, and will be quite sufficient to lead a prosecutor to recommend
to the court that an appropriate medical examination be made.

The problem, in short, is not to devise ingenious methods by which the
prosecutor may responsibly exercise his public duty. Rather, the problem is to
educate prosecuting attorneys about alcoholism, and to persuade them to take time
from their demanding duties to assist the alcoholics with whom they come in
contact in their daily work.

C. Let us now examine the judicial handling of chronic court inebriates.
Once a judge becomes aware, through any information, of any kind, from any
source, that a defendant charged with public intoxication may have available to
him the defense of chronic alcoholism, he is, in my opinion, clearly obligated to
make certain that the defense is adequately presented. Cases in the District
of Columvia, involving the analogous defense of mental illness, hold that even
if the defendent protests, the judge is required to inject the defense into the
case on his own motion, to make certain that an innocent man is not convicted.
Failure to do so is reversible error, as an abuse of the judge's discretion. And
a decision handed down by the United States Supreme Court in March of last year
is wholly consistent with this position. There is no reason why these precedents
dealing with the insanity defense should not be equally applicable to the defense
of chronic alcoholism. The D.C, Crime Commission concluded that they are applicable
and that they compel the trial judge sua sponte to protect the alcoholic defendent's
legal rights.

This means, of course, increased responsibility for the judiciary. Under the
Easter and Driver decisions, each trial judge is obligated to take affirmative
action to bring to an immediate end the traditional "revolving door" handling of
the chronic court inebriate in his court. No judge, in my opinion, may properly
remain neutral, simply waiting for a defendant to raise the defense of alcoholism.

I have already mentioned recent information which suggest that, throughout
the country, approximately 90-95% of the drunkenness offenders who appear before
the courts have serious drinking problems, In my judgment, this statistic in
itself places upon trial judges an obligation to inquire into the possibility of
the defense of chronic alsoholism for virtually every drunkenness offender who
appears in the courts. A failure to undertake this inquiry amounts, in my view,
to a derogation of judicial responsibility.


Some will contend that, because the Easter and Driver decisions are not
binding upon the courts of Georgie, it is neither permissible nor desirable for
local judges to apply these decisions in their own courts, even though they may
believe them to be a proper statement of law. Some trial judges believe that,
until an appellate decision is handed down in their jurisdiction, they are
compelled to follow the old view of the law even though they disagree with that
view. In my opinion, this is an erroneous concept of a trial judge's responsibility
to the community.

A trial judge has an obligation, usually stated in his oath of office, to
uphold the Federal and State constitutions. That obligation is far deeper, and
far more important, than the principle of stare decisis. If a trial judge is
convinced that the Easter and Driver decisions are correct statements of the law,
he is in my opinion obligated to implement them in his own court without waiting
for an appellate court to order him to do so. A municipal court judge in
California recently took it upon himself to declare the local intoxication law
unconstitutional, as applied to a chronic alcoholic, and I have not heard it
seriously suggested that he overstepped his judicial authority.

The second way in which local judges have avoided applying these decisions
is by refusing to raise the defense of alcoholism on their own motion. It
requires little imagination to realize that the average Skid Row derelict does
not read the Federal Reports, much less the newspapers, and has absolutely no
knowledge whetever about his legal rights. Even if he did understand, in some
vague way, “hat he might have a defense to the charge of intoxication, he
probably could not begin to understand the ramifications of raising that defense.
And of course, none of these derelicts are represented by counsel. Thus, unless
the trial judge assumes the obligation of protecting this man's rights, those
rights never twill be protected.

In those areas where the judges have not raised the defense of alcoholism
on their own motion, it has only very séldom been raised by the defendants.
Joe Driver, himself, has been convicted for public intoxication in Durham on
more than one occasion after the Fourth Circuit handed down the decision which
bears his name. I find this perversion of law enforcement intolerable.

Many of the judges who have chosen not to follow the Easter and Driver
decisions have done so because of a sincere conviction that it would be more
inhumane to throw derelict alcoholics back out into the streets, to an uncertain
fate, than it would be to throw them into jail, where they will at least be cared
for. I have no quarrel with the sincerity and humanity of these judges. But
I firmly believe that what passes for humanity in the short run becomes the worst
form of cruel. and unusual punishment in the long run.

Acquiescence in the criminal handling of alcoholics virtually precludes
ever breaking out of the revolving door method of handling alcoholics in our
courts. To the extent that the judiciary and the local Bar permits the community
to handle derelict alcoholics as criminals, the community may have little or no
incentive to change that procedure, Edmond Burke once said that "All that is
required for the triumph of evil is that good men remain silent and do nothing."
If the good men in the judiciary and the Bar remain silent and do nothing, the
Easter and Driver decisions could go down in Georgia history as a theoretically
intriguing, but practically meaningless, judicial aberration. And the evil of
handling alcoholics as criminals could be perpetuated in this State.


One example of what a vigorous and conscientious local court can accomplish
may be seen in the activities of the District of Columbia Court of General
Sessions since the Easter decision was handed down on March 31 of last year.

A majority of the judges in that Court concluded that they are obligated to
raise the defense of alcoholism sua sponte for virtually all of the defendants
who apeear in the Drunk Court charged with public intoxication. As of March 9,
1967, 4,382 individuals had been adjudged chronic alcoholics, and therefore can
never again be convicted of public intoxication in the District of Columbia.
And I would estimate that only a handful of those 4,382 individuals raised the
Easter defense by themselves. In virtually all cases, the trial judge raised
the issue on his own motion and referred the defendant to a court psychiatrist

for diagnosis.

The response of the District of Columbia Government to the Easter decision
had initially been one of disinterest and disinclination to act. Our Court,
by making it clear that the decision would be implemented vigorously, soon
forced public officials to abandon this posture of indifference.

These public officials then attempted to put into operation wholly inadequate
procedures which, in effect, would have done no more than change the sign over
our local Workhouse to read "Hospital" rather than "Jail." Again, our courts
responded by refusing to commit any adjudicated alcoholics to this new so-called
health facility, when testimony proved that adequate treatment for alcoholics
was not available there. As a result, comprehensive treatment programs and modern
facilities se now coming into being. These programs and facilities could not
have been rade possible were it not for the courage and sense of community
responsibility of our local judges. This was judicial integrity at its pinnacle.
Our community, and judges throughout the country, can take great pride in these

Some of you might think that the press and the citizens' groups in the
District of Columbia would have heaped abuse upon our judiciary for releasing
this tremendous number of derelict alcoholics upon the community. These derelicts
certainly did not present a pleasing sight to the eye, and some undoubtedly died
who might have lived had they been sent to jail. But the public did not blame
the judiciary. Just the opposite was true. Our judges have been publicly
praised for refusing to continue to punish intoxicated alcoholics, in spite of
the community problems this has raised. But the public press, citizens' groups,
the Bar Association, and the President's Crime Commission, have severely
vrltjcized the District of Columbia officials who have failed to provide public
health facilities for derelict alcoholics. And I believe that the same attitude
would prevail in any community in the United States in which the judiciary and
the Bar similarly had the courage to lead the way to new, more humane procedures
for the handling of its chronic inebriate population.

D. Correctional officials should have little or no responsibility for the
treatment of chronic alcoholics. If the prosecuting attorneys and the judiciary
adequately perform their functions, chronic alcoholics will no longer populate
our prisons, as they currently do. And it is quite clear that a prison setting
is hardly the atmosphere in which to attempt to persuade a chronic inebriate
offender to change his ways.

There will remain in our prisons, nevertheless, some who have been properly
convicted of more serious crimes, who have a drinking problem unrelated to
those crimes. It would obviously be wise for public health personnel to suggest
to correctional officials that some form of appropriate treatment be provided
for these people while they are still in jail, in order to head off future
alcoholism problems.


E. The primary responsibility for developing practical programs for helping
our chronic inebriate population necessarily rests, however, with professional
public health personnel: doctors, nurses, social workers, and others working
in the area of alcoholic rehabilitation. A judge can find an alcoholic not
guilty of e given crime with which he is charged, but he cannot develop an
effective rehabilitation program, nor can he order state or federal health
officials to build facilities and develop adequate programs. <A prosecutor can,
sinilarly, only exercise his discretion to prosecute or to drop charges. And
lawyers can defend chronic alcoholics charged with crime but cannot offer them
the treatment necessary to prevent similar court appearances day after day after
day. In the last analysis, therefore, we must all rely upon public health
personnel to initiate changes in the present procedures.

They will readily find that when new procedures for handling chronic
inebriates are presented, the police, the courts, and local attorneys will offer
their full cooperation. But the point that concerns me most, I must admit, is
that up to now the health professions have not greeted the Easter and Driver
decisions with the sense of challenge and responsibility that I had hoped for.
Now is the time for them to step forward with imagination and dedication to
present new procedures for handling inebriates, new treatment programs designed
to rehabilitate alcoholics, and new legislative proposals to develop an appropriate
legal structure under which these new objectives may be properly pursued. Unless
this happens in the State of Georgia, the opportunity afforded by the Easter and
Driver decisions may be wasted, and the efforts that have been made to adopt an
enlightened iegal approach toward the chronic inebriate offender may be in vain.

One would hope that these new procedures will come voluntarily from the
health professions. If they do not, however, then all law enforcement personnel
in the State -- the police, the prosecutors, the judiciary, and the local Bar --
should take every step possible to force these new programs into existence. The
legal profession has long assumed the duty of a public protector of the rights
and liberties of all citizens. We must be as zealous in protecting the rights of
our derelict population as we are in protecting the rights of those citizens
who are more fortunate in life. I have already described what we have accomplished
in the District of Columbia in just one year. Comparable humane results can be
obtained in Atlanta.

In an article that appeared in the Atlanta Constitution on March 1 of this
year, a representative of the Atlanta Area Community Council was reported to be
pleading for time, and to be making efforts to forestall legal action in Atlanta
that would push for adoption of the Easter and Driver decisions as binding law
in Georgia. I most sincerely hope that there is no delay here, and that plans
for a test case move ahead rapidly. Such a case would be a necessary catalyst
to speed up the reforms that are so badly needed in Atlanta's handling of its
chronic inebriates.

Of course, police and lawyers are not competent to decide exactly what type
of non-criminal public health procedures are most likely to result in rehabilitation
of chronic inebriates, But we are competent, and we do have the duty, to make
certain that the present criminal procedures are not continued. The public cannot
be expected to respect a system of criminal justice that condemns sick people to
jail because they are sick. We need drastic changes in the handling of chronic
inebriates in our local courts, and the legal profession has the power and the
duty to make those changes.


Because of my interest in this problem, I have discussed with a number of
public health authorities the type of new procedures that might be adopted for
handling chronic inebriates. I will now outline, for your consideration, my own
conclusions, and those of the two Crime Commissions appointed by the President,
about appropriate new procedures.

For purposes of my analysis, I separate what we might refer to as the derelict,
or Skid Row, or homeless inebriates, on the one hand, from the inebriates who do
have homes, families, and personal resources upon which they can rely. Although
the derelict inebriates represent a relatively small proportion of the total
alcoholic population -- ranging from 3 to 15 per cent, depending upon the statistics
on which you choose to rely -- they obviously represent the vast bulk of the chronic
inebriate problem in our courts and jails.

I would begin by suggesting, as I already have above, that any inebriate who
has a home and family to take care of him should be escorted promptly to that home
by the police, rather than arrested. Of course, if it appears to the policeman
that the inebriate is in medical danger, he should either be taken directly to a
medical facility or his family should be informed that medical help would appear
to be required.

Perhaps at some future time, when we have completely solved the problem of
handling drunken derelicts, we will be able to provide public facilities and programs
also for incbriates who are not direct public charges. But at this time, when we
cannot even begin to handle our drunken derelict population, I see no reason why
we should also attempt to take charge of those who do have resources of their own,
beyond making certain that they do get back home safely.

Thus, I would concentrate ourpublic resources almost completely upon the
chronic inebriate derelict. And my initial suggestion is that the old criminal
method of handling this population should be discarded and replaced by civil
procedures. This should be done, in my opinion, regardless whether all or only
part of the derelict inebriates found on the streets may have available to them
the defense of chronic alcoholism provided by the Easter and Driver decisions,

Let us examine for a moment whether there is any valid public policy reason
why a legislature should brand an intoxicated person who is causing no public
disturbance as a criminal. We must face reality. The public intoxication laws
in the District of Columbia never have been, and never will be, enforced uniformly
upon the public as a whole. And I doubt that the situation in Atlanta is different.
Police do not pick up intoxicated party-goers emerging from elegant dinner parties
or our suburban country clubs. I will not be the first to point out that there
are aS many intoxicated people on the streets of the exclusive residential areas
of our cities as there are in the Skid Row areas, and you will not be surprised
that very few of the prosperous drunks are arrested. Public intoxication statutes
are enforced against the poor, and in particular, the homeless man.

Should we as a civilized nation enact criminal laws aimed solely at a very
small, virtually defenseless, esthetically unacceptable segment of our population,
with the intent of simply sweeping them off the street and into oblivion? In my
opinion, the public intoxication statutes now on the books have no redeeming
social purpose, regardless of the issue of alcoholism, and they should not be
retained. Even worse, by substituting criminal sanctions for public health
measures, these statutes preclude the use of preventive techniques to head off


incipient alcoholism problems. Disorderly conduct statutes are quite sufficient
to protect the public from harm and these statutes should both be retained and

fully enforced.

The two Crime Commissions appointed by the President have, for these reasons,
recommended that the present public intoxication statute be amended to require
disorderly conduct in addition to drunkenness. And the President's Commission on
Crime in the District of Columbia has explicitly recognized that the usual mani-
festations of drunkenness, such as staggering, or falling down, or noisiness,
do not constitute any threat of harm to the public, and should not be considered
illegal disorderly conduct.

What, then, should be done with derelict inebriates found intoxicated on
the streets? I would suggest a three-part program.

First, an inebriate who, in the judgment of the police or authorized public
health personnel, is unable to take care of himself, should be brought to a
detoxification center that is staffed with public health personnel, to receive
whatever medical help for his acute intoxication may be necessary. This should be
a voluntary facility. The individual might be required to remain there for some
specified period of time in order to make certain that he will again be able to
take care of himself when he leaves. But he will not have been arrested, and
could not be detained for a longer period against his will.

Second, those inebriates who have a drinking problem will be encouraged to
remain for a longer period of time in an in-patient diagnostic center, where a
complete work-up can be prepared on his medical, social, occupational, family, and
other personal history. In my view, this should also be a completely voluntary
facility. A genuine offer of meaningful assistance should be the only inducement
used to persuade an inebriate to make use of it. And I might add that, never
before in our history, has any community reached out to these unfortunate people
with such an offer.

Third, a network of after-care facilities should be established to provide
food, shelter, clothing, vocational rehabilitation, and appropriate treatment,
rather than simply dumping the derelict back onto Skid Row. Perhaps the most
important aspect of this part of the program would be residential facilities, to
provide an entirely new atmosphere that will, hopefully, reverse the process of
degradation that has gradually forced the derelicts down to their present position.
As with the other facilities, these should, in my judgment, be entirely voluntary.

I would like to emphasize that a new program of this nature should not, in
my opinion, contain a long-term residential in-patient treatment facility of the
type now used to house the mentally ill. I would oppose any such facility on
both medical and legal grounds.

First, the public health authorities with whom I have conferred have convinced
me that long-term involuntary commitment to a residential facility makes effective
treatment for alcoholism more difficult. From their viewpoint, incarceration in
a health facility has the same degrading effect on the derelicts as incarceration
in jail. Both rob the inebriate of any willingness to attempt to find his way out
of his present situation in life, and make him more passively dependent upon
institutionalization. Those who are currently running programs inform me that
voJuntary out-patient care, when supported by residential facilities, has been
highly successful. If the community will only reach out to the derelict alcoholic
with adequate and appropriate help, he will respond. Once the crutch of jail is
removed, derelict inebriates voluntarily ask for assistence with their problems.


My second reason for opposing involuntary commitment procedures is on
constitutional grounds. We can all agree, I believe, that the derelict inebriate
poses no threat of actual harm to society. And he poses no greater threat of
harm to himself than do airplane test pilots, epileptics, mountain climbers,
cigarette smokers, Indianapolis Speedway drivers, and any number of people who
may refuse medical assistance for their non-communicable illnesses. None of
these people are involuntarily committed to institutions, nor could they be.

I therefore see no constitutional basis for depriving chronic alcoholics of
their freedom. against their will.

The type of program that I have outlined is not a Utopian dream. It has
been recommended by both Presidential Crime Commissions, And although there was
some dispute among the 28 members of these two Commissions, there was no dispute
whatever on these recommendations. In his February 6th message to Congress on
Crime in America, President Johnson specifically singeld out these recommendations
for public attention. And Congressman Elliott Hagan of Georgia has now introduced
a bill in the House of Representatives, H.R. 6143, that would adopt this approach
for the District of Columbia. It is, therefore, an entirely realistic and
practical objective, and not just an idealistic hope.

Of course, a program of the type that I outline will not eliminate the problem
of the chronic inebriate. There will undoubtedly be a significant number of
hard-core inebriates who will not change their ways regardless of what type of
treatment program is offered voluntarily or forced involuntarily upon them. We
must, therefore, forthrightly face the question of what should be done with them.

Since we can no longer handle them as criminals, as a result of the Easter
and Driver decisions, we are left with two choices. We can either warehouse them
forever on some type of an alcoholic farm, or we can process them through the type
of program I have described above. In my judgment, it would be unwise to institute
a warehousing system. Those who are close to the treatment of alcoholics tell me
that they are not willing ever to write off the possibility of helping even the
most hard-core chronic alcoholic. They cannot determine ahead of time who can be
helped, or how long it will take. In their judgment, warehousing of alcoholics,
regardless of how incalcitrant they may seem, is not medically warranted. And a
warehousing operation is, in my opinion, clearly indefensible from a constitutional
viewpoint. ;

The President's Commission on Crime in the District of Columbia squarely
faced this problem, and came to the following conclusion:

"For these unfortunate people, humanity demands that we stop treating them
as criminals and provide voluntary supportive services and residential
facilities so that they can survive in a decent manner."

This would require, of course, a complete overhaul of the present civil commitment
system in the State of Georgia. And it should, in my opinion, begin immediately.


The alcoholism movement has too long suffered, I believe, from a defeatist
attitude. In the District of Columbia we have shown not only that the public will
accept the Easter decision, but also that it will not tolerate a Government that
refuses to help derelict alcoholics.


Today, in Atlanta, you are taking a major step forward. But a conference
like this one is just the beginning. What we need now are man-to-man
confrontations among public officials, without fanfare or publicity, in which
practical solutions to pressing problems are worked out on a sensible basis.

If I have one message to leave with you today, I would urge you to start
the job immediately.

Talk Presented By Peter Barton Hutt To The Atlanta Bar Association,

Atlanta, Georgia, March 16, 1967.

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