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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 92909 Find in a Library
Title: Public Drunkenness - A Case History in Decriminalisation (From Issues in Criminal Justice Administration, P 29-42, 1983, Mark Findlay et al, eds. - See NCJ-92907)
Author(s): S J Egger; A Cornish; H Heilpern
Date Published: 1983
Page Count: 14
Sponsoring Agency: George Allen and Unwin
Winchester, MA 01890
Sale Source: George Allen and Unwin
9 Winchester Terrace
Winchester, MA 01890
United States of America
Language: English
Country: Australia
Annotation: An examination of the results of the decriminalization of public drunkenness, notably such legislation in New South Wales (Australia), indicates problems arise because of the retention of the police powers of compulsion and involuntary detention without the protections offered by the criminal law.
Abstract: Legislation decriminalizing public drunkenness has been enacted because criminalization of such behavior has resulted in an inherent class bias in the enforcement of the law; no significant rehabilitative or deterrent effects are achieved; public drunkenness per se poses no threat of harm to others; and any threatening behavior by inebriates is covered under other criminal laws. In New South Wales, decriminalization of public drunkenness was accomplished through the Intoxicated Persons Act of 1979. The Parliament has described it as a welfare-management model not primarily concerned with rehabilitation. The focus is on behavior which interferes with or poses a danger to citizens, including the inebriates themselves. The legislation provides for the incapacitation of an inebriate, who may be released to a responsible person willing to exercise care for the inebriate. Places of detention include all police stations, the premises of certain voluntary agencies, and juvenile remand shelters. The aim of the legislation is to provide only immediate facilities where the inebriate may sober up under supervision. The maximum period of detention is 8 hours. The legislation has no requirement that the inebriate be informed of his/her rights and the detainee is not specifically entitled to contact relatives or friends. This is particularly alarming in view of the large number of juveniles detained in police cells. Further, there is no provision for redress or review where wrongful detention is alleged. Additionally, police resources are misallocated, and selective discrimination against certain sections of society continues.
Index Term(s): Australia; Decriminalization; Drunkenness
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