Audio – Senator Keith Ingram Reporting News From 90th General Assembly
December 1st, 2016 • News
December 1, 2016 – Senator Keith Ingram audio report of news from the 90th General Assembly.
In this week’s report:
- When the Legislature convenes in January, lawmakers will tackle two closely connected issues: criminal justice and mental health.
- According to a public health expert at UAMS, at least 20% of the people in jails and prisons have a serious mental illness, although that is likely a conservative estimate.
- When the police are called because someone is causing a public disturbance, the chances are good that they will confront a person having a mental health breakdown. Law officers must then make a judgment call: Do they lock the person up in jail or do they take him to a local hospital that may not have the resources to stabilize him?
- The problem has reached the point that three organizations representing county judges, sheriffs, and quorum courts have officially requested the Legislature to address the issue. Each organization adopted resolutions that ask lawmakers to shore up law enforcement’s ability to respond to people with mental illness.
- Specifically, they want law officers to get training in how to handle people who are going through a mental health crisis. They also want more treatment facilities available. People who are locked up in jail eventually get out, and the best way to protect the public is to make sure they are stable when they are released.
- This is a complex issue made all the more difficult by the fact that more than half of the people behind bars in Arkansas have a history of drug abuse. That is why we will seek input from law enforcement agencies, public health officials, and experts on drug abuse. Working together is the only way we can address this looming crisis.
Click to Listen - Audio Recording from December 1, 2016