Gov. Asa Hutchinson has signed into law a bill that sets up three centers aimed at reducing the incarceration rate of those with mental illness.
The governor has earmarked $5 million for three regional Mental Health Crisis Stabilization Centers, saying they will benefit public safety. If law enforcement officers suspect someone they encounter is in need of mental health treatment, the staff at the centers can offer evaluations and treatment.
Hutchinson signed the bill Wednesday. He had listed it among his priorities for the 2017 legislative session.
The governor said in a statement that the nation has neglected mental health issues for "far too long." He said the new law will help law officers who often have to deal with the mentally ill who need help, not detention.