LITTLE ROCK — Arkansas is now accepting applications from government entities wishing to operate crisis stabilization units, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Friday.

Creation of the units, known as CSUs for short, was part of Hutchinson’s legislative agenda for this year’s session, based on a recommendation by the Criminal Justice Oversight Task Force. The units are envisioned as clinical facilities that will provide assessment and treatment on a short-term basis for the mentally ill and others with behavioral health conditions.

The goal of the units is to reduce the number of people with those conditions entering jails and emergency rooms, which are not equipped or designed to handle them. Diverting those people to CSUs is expected to result in better care for them as well as lower costs and less overcrowding at county jails.

Act 423 of 2017, which created a CSU pilot program, received strong bipartisan support in both houses of the Legislature and was signed into law by the governor in March.

A government entity can apply to receive up to $1.6 million to operate a 16-bed facility. The Criminal Justice Oversight Task Force will review the applications and will announce the selection of three applicants for the pilot program in July. Applications must be submitted no later than midnight on June 30.

Applications are available at: