Two million arrests in 1965—one of every three arrests in America—were for the offense of public drunkenness. 1 The great volume of these arrests places an extremely heavy load on the operations of the criminal justice system.It burdens police, clogs lower criminal courts, and crowds penal institutions throughout the United States.
Because of the sheer size of the problem and because of doubts that have recently been raised about the efficacy of handling drunkenness within the system of criminal justice, the Commission sought to reexamine present methods of treating drunkenness offenders and to explore promising alternatives.It was not in a position to undertake a comprehensive study of the complex medical, social, and public health problems of drunkenness.
Drunkenness is punishable under a variety of laws, generally describing the offense as being "drunk in a public place," often without providing a precise definition of drunkenness itself. 2 Some laws include as a condition that the offender is "unable to care for his own safety." 3____________________