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Local Coalition Wants Better Treatment For Inmates With Mental Illness

SEBASTIAN COUNTY (KFSM) — The Sebastian County Sheriff Bill Hollenbeck, other local county sheriff’s and CEOs of community health facilities have fo...

SEBASTIAN COUNTY (KFSM) -- The Sebastian County Sheriff Bill Hollenbeck, other local county sheriff's and CEOs of community health facilities have formed a coalition to implement a stabilization center.

The stabilization center would help those arrested battling a mental illness, get treatment rather than going straight in to a jail cell.

Sebastian County Sheriff Bill Hollenbeck said if a deputy was called to a disturbance where the person is suspected of having a mental illness, the options are limited.

"The type of training that law enforcement has now is to arrest them for criminal trespassing and take them to jail and that's not necessarily the best place for them," Hollenbeck said.

Hollenbeck and the coalition has spent time in San Antonio, Texas, where law enforcement is already using a stabilization program.

"They had a rate of the same individuals that we deal with every time, from percent dropped it all the way to 6 percent," Hollenbeck said.

The stabilization center would consist of law enforcement training, Mental Health court for inmates and a center for treatment.

The coalition plans to work with legislators in two weeks on ideas of how to secure funding.