Our View of the Legislature – Involuntary Commitment

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Our mission is to advance independence, choice, and self-determination; protect legal, human, and civil rights; and eliminate abuse, neglect, and discrimination of people with disabilities through zealous and uncompromising legal advocacy and representation. We are following and speaking to bills in the legislature concerning the rights of people with behavioral health needs concerns to be free from unconstitutional involuntary commitment. (The U.S. Constitution provides that someone can be deprived of their liberty via involuntary commitment only when they are a danger to themselves or others.)

Some proposals in the legislature address concerns about how the process of obtaining Emergency Custody Orders and Temporary Detention Orders works.

  • Alternative Transportation: HB 822 (Cherry), HB 823 (Cherry), and SB 497 (Carroll Foy) address the process of a magistrate being able to designate an alternative transportation provider, other than law enforcement, for a person who is the subject of an ECO or TDO. SB 497 and HB 823 state that to be considered “available,” the alternate transportation provider must be able to take custody within six hours. The House bill was approved in committee and is now being considered by the full House. The Senate version is still in committee. HB 822 was converted into a “workgroup” bill, to develop recommendations to improve the alternative transportation process, and was then referred to the House Committee on Rules.
  • Family Presence: HB 1242 (Willett) and SB 546 (Bagby) provide for the facility where an ECO evaluation is being completed to allow a family member or the guardian of the person being evaluated to be present to provide support or shared decision-making unless the individual objects or if the presence of any such person would provide a medical or safety risk. This bill is being proposed by the administration in response to the recent death of someone in custody.  The House bill was approved by a subcommittee and is now before the full Courts of Justice committee today. The Senate bill has been assigned to the Committee on Education and Health.
  • Evaluators: SB 34 (Locke) creates a pilot program in Planning District 21, at one hospital, to allow trained non-CSB staff to perform mental health evaluations for temporary detention. The bill was approved by a subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Education and Health.

We are available to educate policymakers about the potential impact of legislative proposals.  Please let us know of any issues that you think we should be following. Contact us at ga@dlcv.org or info@dlcv.org or by calling 1-800-552-3962 or 1-804-225-2042.