Mental Health Courts Program set to start in Craighead County - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Mental Health Courts Program set to start in Craighead County

By Lauren Payne - bio | email feedback

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT)  "I'm just really excited about this.   It could do a lot of good.   It could save families, it could save jail space, it could save money," said Craighead County Sheriff, Jack McCann.

Craighead County Sheriff Jack McCann is talking about the establishment of the mental health court program in Craighead County.

"It needs to grow, we hope it does," said McCann.

Similar to drug court, McCann says some non-violent offenders living with mental health issues will be able to enter this program  in lieu of jail time. He adds it's a commitment with rules to follow.

"If they don't, they can be kicked out of the program and sent back to jail," said McCann.

"Rather than using traditional criminal sentencing, we can divert them into a treatment program," said Ruth Allison Dover at Mid-South Health Systems.

The Craighead County Jail and medical staff will work in collaboration with Mid-South Health Systems to identify those who they think would benefit from this intense program.

"We want to reduce recidivism among persons with mental illness.   We think we can make this a success story for Arkansas," said Dover.

Dover says Mid-South teams will monitor the participants daily, and provide services to help them succeed ranging from rehab to housing.

"We're going to pull all of those services together and present them with an intensive 12 month treatment plan to help them graduate from mental health court," said Dover.

Dover says grant money will fund the program for 2 years, but hopes the program will be around long after.  Sheriff McCann says the first year the program will allow for 10 people, 20 the second.

"You're going to have failures, but you're going to have successes too.   Successes we hope will far out number the failures," said McCann.

While there are collaborations between Mid-South Health Systems  and law enforcement when it comes to identifying possible participants, Dover says the mental health court judge will ultimately make the final call on who gets to participate.  She adds on March 7th, referrals for the program will start being accepted.

Crittenden County is also starting a mental health court program and working with Mid-South Health Systems. 

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