DIVERT PEOPLE WITH MENTAL ILLNESS
Jails have become de facto hospitals for persons with mental illness. Jails throughout Arkansas are overcrowded and contain a significant number of non-violent persons who have mental illness and who need treatment that these facilities are not equipped to provide.
A psychiatric episode is a health issue, and treatment is required, not jail. Police need to keep the public safe, rather than being asked to take care of someone in a health crisis. We can put a policeman right back on the street when the community provides a mental health crisis center for immediate treatment and assessment of a non-violent person in crisis.
Such centers have been proven to be less expensive, more humane, and a more productive use of taxpayer’s money. The Arkansas Public Policy Panel produced a 2015 report that shows crisis centers could provide better care while freeing up space in overcrowded prisons and saving the state close to $140 million each year.