Criminal Mental Disease Patients Now Being Housed in Jonesboro - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Jonesboro, AR -- Melissa Simas reports

Criminal Mental Disease Patients Now Being Housed in Jonesboro

December 6, 2004 -- Posted 5:30 p.m. CDT, updated at 7:16 a.m. CST 12/7/04

Jonesboro, AR -- Criminal mental disease patients are being housed in Jonesboro, and local residents say they're not even aware this is happening.

K8 News has received confirmation from the State's Department of Human Services that six "911" patients are being housed and treated at the Arkansas Services Center in Jonesboro. These are patients who have gone through the forensic system and have been found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect and are put under a 911 order.

Some residents are surprised and even worried that 911 patients are being housed in this facility in Jonesboro.

"My children are out playing all the time, one could get out and you don't know what they would do," said one local resident.

The Arkansas Department of Human Services tells K8 News that within the past few weeks. six of these patients have been transferred from a facility in Corning to Jonesboro.

"At that point, they may be transferred to another facility or they may be transferred to Jonesboro for what's called a stepdown program, and that allows them one additional stopping point before they actually go out into the community," said Julie Munsell with DHS.

"They've been stabilized and it shouldn't be a problem at all," said Craighead County Sheriff Jack McCann.

McCann was once opposed to having 911's in Jonesboro when that proposition came up a few years ago. He and others even rallied against it at the State Capitol. The original plan would have brought these patients here right from the State Hospital. Instead now they're coming from Corning, their second stop on the road to rehabilitation.

"They have been under treatment, my understanding is, for sometime," said McCann.

"We really applaud the Jonesboro community for being so receptive," said Munsell.

"My opinion is at this point, there is nothing to be concerned about, but only time will tell," added McCann.

911 patients are not supervised by guards, but they are behind doors that are fitted with lockdown security.

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