LITTLE ROCK – Governor Asa Hutchinson today signed SB136 into law to establish three regional Mental Health Crisis Stabilization Centers to reduce the incarceration rate of those with mental illness and to increase public safety. The governor has committed $5 million to support these facilities, which will provide evaluation and treatment of those suspected by law enforcement officers to be in need of mental health treatment.
Governor Hutchinson issued the following statement:
“We have neglected the mental health challenges in our nation for far too long. Through the creation of these stabilization centers, this bill will provide much-needed assistance to those suffering from mental illnesses, and also provide relief to our law enforcement officers who so often have to deal with incidents involving those who need help rather than detention.
“This legislation is paired with the crisis intervention training that I’ve previously approved through the Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy (ALETA). Both ALETA and the Criminal Justice Institute (CJI) are already in the process of training law enforcement officers throughout the state to recognize when a citizen is experiencing a mental health episode and to diffuse the situation. We have too many people incarcerated in Arkansas as a result of mental illness, and while we recognize this need, we must continue working to treat the mentally ill and prevent future criminal behavior.”
SB136 is the result of two years of study and deliberation by the Legislative Criminal Justice Task Force and the Council of State Governments (CSG).