Gov. Asa Hutchinson participated in the ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday (Sept. 10) at the Craighead County Crisis Stabilization Unit (CSU) in Jonesboro, which is the fourth and final CSU authorized under Act 423 of 2017.
“The Craighead County Regional CSU is an important step in bridging a gap between communities in Northeast Arkansas. This unit is designed to more effectively respond to individuals suffering a mental health crisis and ensure they receive the services they need,” Hutchinson said. “The partnership between the state and the four counties of this pilot program is on the forefront of efforts in our state to help those in a mental health crisis. I believe in the promise of these units to better serve the people of our state.”
The facility, known as the Craighead County Regional CSU, will serve 20 counties in Northeast Arkansas. Law enforcement from each of the 20 counties can refer and transport those in a mental health crisis to the CSU.
CSUs also operate in Sebastian, Pulaski, and Washington counties. The Craighead County CSU is the last facility authorized by Act 423 – legislation that passed with bipartisan support in March 2017. The act established the four CSUs and mandated crisis intervention training to teach law enforcement officers to recognize and deescalate a mental-illness crisis.
Craighead County is the only county to build a new structure to house its CSU. The 16-bed facility will allow clients to stay for approximately 60 hours. Each law enforcement agency participating in the Craighead County Regional CSU will have at least one officer that has been through the 40-hour crisis intervention-training course.
To date, more than 500 law enforcement officers across Arkansas have received crisis intervention training under Act 423, and all new recruits at the Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy (ALETA) receive 16 hours of crisis intervention training. A voluntary online nine-hour course is available to veteran officers through the Criminal Justice Institute (CJI).
These four CSUs are expected to divert about 4,800 people annually from jail and to treatment.
“The Craighead County Regional Crisis Stabilization Unit will provide a diversion from the traditional route of detention for those in mental health crisis,” said Lisa Lawrence, Craighead County Judge Assistant. “Statistics show that once an individual is incarcerated, they will become 70% more likely to re-offend. Our hope is that this much-needed facility will help stop that cycle and leave the judicial system to those that are criminally offending. The CSU will provide hope to many in our community that are desperate for help.”
The 20 counties in the Craighead County region include Clay, Craighead, Crittenden, Cross, Greene, Fulton, Independence, Izard, Jackson, Lawrence, Lee, Mississippi, Monroe, Phillips, Poinsett, Randolph, St. Francis, Sharp, White, and Woodruff counties.