Our View of the Legislature – Behavioral Health

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The disAbility Law Center of Virginia is following and speaking to bills in the legislature concerning the rights of people with behavioral health concerns, particularly the right to be free from unconstitutional involuntary hospitalization. In our work investigating alleged abuse and neglect in state facilities, we have been concerned, for years, about the high numbers of people who are ready to return to the community, but who remain involuntarily committed. The number of people “ready for discharge,” but unable to leave, ranges from 150 to 250 in any month.

Some proposals in the legislature attempt to deal with part of the problem, the part that is believed to be caused by the inability of some Community Services Boards (CSB) to develop discharge plans on time.

  • HB 314 (Hope) allows the state hospital, rather than the CSB, to develop a discharge plan for any individual who has been in the hospital for 30 days or less.
  • HB 515 (Hope) states that the Commissioner of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services has the authority to discharge someone ready for discharge, with an appropriate plan after 15 days, over the objection of the guardian or delays by the CSB.

The mission of the disAbility Law Center of Virginia 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 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.