Washington County has hired an ombudsman for a pilot project as part of an effort to find alternative ways to remedy the overcrowding at the detention center aside from a proposed $38 million expansion. The man contracted for the job is not new to it. Stan Adelman was ombudsman in 2000 when the jail expanded from its old location to its current one.
In a new report, the Arkansas Justice Collective, a nonprofit law firm and advocacy group, claims Fayetteville law officials are not complying with a 2008 city ordinance that makes misdemeanor possession of marijuana a low enforcement priority.
The Northwest Arkansas Crisis Stabilization Unit opened in Fayetteville Friday, making it the third CSU to open as part of a pilot program funded by the state legislature in 2017. The 16-bed facility will give law enforcement officers in Washington, Benton, Madison and Carroll Counties an alternative to jail when encountering people with mental health issues. Similar facilities are already up and running in Sebastian and Pulaski Counties.
The Washington County sheriff has spent the last few months going before the Quorum Court to make his case for a $38 million jail expansion project that would be funded through a new tax, but opposition to the proposal is mounting. Residents and activists say they would like the county to invest in more alternatives to incarceration instead of an expansion.
This week, Sebastian County leaders celebrated the opening of the first of four crisis stabilization units in Arkansas. The Sebastian County Five West Crisis Stabilization Unit is located in Fort Smith and operated by the Western Arkansas Counseling and Guidance Center. The CSU will give local law enforcement officers responding to a mental health crisis call another option besides taking that person to jail. CSU staff will provide voluntary short-term treatment for up to 72 hours and then ideally get the patient to agree to inpatient or outpatient long-term care.