JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - A new Arkansas law approved during this year's legislative session aims at lowering the percentage of mentally ill people in jail.
It designates $5 million to create three mental health centers in Arkansas to help the problem.
Local officials plan to meet next week to discuss how to bring one of those facilities to Jonesboro.
Law enforcement officials, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and mental health providers plan to create a coalition to voice the need for a Mental Health Crisis Stabilization Unit in Northeast Arkansas.
The purpose of the units is to help keep mentally ill people out of jail by placing them into a unit so they can receive immediate treatment and medication.
Craighead County Sheriff Marty Boyd said it is not only a way to save taxpayer dollars, but that it is the moral thing to do.
"You know we are here to help people," Boyd said. "That is our goal. It is not to put them in a different circumstance and worsen that condition. Let's find out what it better for them and get them in the right atmosphere and the right treatment program."
Boyd believes Jonesboro is the best place for one of the facilities. He said Jonesboro possesses the necessary resources and location suitable for the unit.
Officials will meet on April 13 at 10 a.m. at Midsouth Health Systems.
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