Arkansas’s first crisis stabilization unit (CSU) opened in Sebastian County on March 1 with high praise from Governor Asa Hutchinson. This center, which will provide services to people experiencing mental health crises, is the first of four such centers planned across the state. Officials are hopeful that it will serve as a model that other states can follow.
Until this unit opened, people experiencing a mental health crisis who came into contact with law enforcement were often taken to jail, which caused crowding in county jails that are unequipped to provide treatment. The opening of this 16-bed CSU is expected to not only alleviate this crowding, but reduce recidivism and court caseloads.
The remaining three CSUs will be in Pulaski, Craighead, and Washington counties. The state allocated $6.4 million to operate the four CSUs and provide Crisis Intervention Team training to law enforcement officers.
The creation of CSUs in Arkansas is the result of The Criminal Justice Efficiency and Safety Act of 2017 (Act 423), which was the culmination of a months-long justice reinvestment approach in the state to reduce recidivism and increase public safety.
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