Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Thursday he has authorized four crisis stabilization units to be opened in Arkansas. The units will treat mentally impaired people who could end up in jail or might seek treatment in an emergency room.
The units will have up to 16 beds. Craighead, Pulaski, Sebastian and Washington counties will house the CSU units. Each county will receive $1.6 million to fund the units.
The aim is to reduce the burden on county jails and hospitals. The units were suggested by the Interagency Criminal Justice Commission.
“The original plan was to select three counties, but we received four stellar applications, and so I decided to award funding to all four,” the governor said. “Each of the four counties’ submissions went above and beyond the parameters laid out in the application process, with substantial support from local leadership and the community.”
Act 423, which established the CSU pilot program was a part of Hutchinson’s 2017 legislative agenda and received bipartisan support in both houses of the legislature. Gov. Hutchinson signed it into law on March 8, 2017.
The governor has committed an additional $1.4 million from the state’s Rainy Day Fund to support units, in addition to the $5 million already committed to this project. The additional $1.4 million in funding will go before the Arkansas Legislative Council for final approval.
CSUs are short-term clinical facilities that provide assessment and treatment services for individuals with behavioral health conditions. A primary goal of the state’s investment in CSUs is to reduce the number of people with mental illness and other behavioral health conditions entering jails or other facilities, such as emergency rooms, not designed to effectively address their underlying behavioral health conditions. CSUs have the potential to improve outcomes for people with acute behavioral health conditions and reduce overall system costs to both the state and counties, including the strain on our county jails.