Arkansas Governor Approves Money To Build Mental Health Facilities

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FORT SMITH (KFSM) -- Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson signed a bill into law geared toward lowering the number of incarcerated adults suffering from a mental illness.

The bill allocated $5 million to build three mental health crisis stabilization centers in the state of Arkansas.

Many times law enforcement officers have no other choice than to incarcerate a person with a mental illness when there is a criminal disturbance.

Once built, a person with a mental illness will be transported to a center where they can receive the care they need.

"They can stay there anywhere from 24 hours, possibly up to two weeks," Sebastian County Sheriff Bill Hollenbeck said. "It helps them to get back on their medication, back into society, go back to heir jobs, pay their taxes, become a good healthy parent, son or daughter rather than getting locked up in the criminal justice system."

The three centers will be built in the state of Arkansas but locations have not yet been set.

"I'm hopeful this will come to Sebastian County. We are working hard with our quorum court, our county judge, with our state legislators - on getting  a stabilization center here for law enforcement and for our community," Hollenbeck said. "One thing that makes Sebastian County unique in possibly getting this stabilization unit in Sebastian County is we have a core team which includes our prosecuting attorney, county judge, one of our circuit judges, the director of our local community health center and myself where we have actually traveled to Washington D.C. to a conference learning how this broad problem effects us not just locally but on a state level and on a national level."