Governor Signs Bill to Provide the Mentally Ill Treatment Instead of Prison Time

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.-  As the state deals with constant overcrowding in its prisons, a new bill signed Wednesday, could be a win-win for Arkansas.

The new law will provide more money for mental illness in an effort to keep people out of jail.

Governor Asa Hutchinson says the bill will establish three regional Mental Health Crisis Stabilization Centers.  Gov. Hutchinson allotted $5 million to support the facilities which will provide evaluation and treatment.

Mental health advocates are calling the bill a step in the right direction. 

"There's very limited access for mental health services or reimbursement of mental health services," says Peggy Kelly, who works with mentally ill adolescents at Youth Home.

Officers are already being trained to recognize when someone is having a mental health episode and to be able to diffuse it.  The governor says this new law will provide much needed assistance to those suffering from mental illness.


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