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Four mental health centers to be established in Arkansas

LITTLE ROCK — Governor Asa Hutchinson says four Arkansas counties will receive up to $1.6 million each to fund facilities where people with mental health issues can receive treatment rather than be booked into jail.

Hutchinson said in a statement Thursday that Craighead, Pulaski, Sebastian and Washington counties each applied to open the “crisis stabilization units.” The governor said only three counties were initially going to be selected for the funding, but all four counties submitted “stellar” applications.

“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,” he said.

An additional $1.4 million from Arkansas’ Rainy Day Fund will be used to support the facilities. The use of the funds must get final approval from the Arkansas Legislative Council. The state had already committed $5 million for the project.

The CSU pilot program aims to decrease the number of people with mental health issues who are sent to jail and emergency rooms. Those facilities “are not designed or equipped to handle individuals with these conditions,” the state said in a release.

The program could potentially help hundreds of people get the help they need while addressing overcrowding and  easing the strain on first-responders and county jails.