RICHMOND (WRIC) - Senator Creigh Deeds' bill proposing to change the amount of time a person can be held under an emergency custody order is headed for a full Senate vote after passing the Senate finance committee Tuesday morning.
Mental health reform is something the senator promised to focus on after the tragic attack involving his son back in November. His bill is taking one more step toward marking changes he hopes will prevent future tragedies.
"I'm determined that Gus not be remembered for his illness or what ended his life, that's nothing. He was such a good boy. A good man, he had a good heart, he loved he loved people."
Deeds' son, Gus, attacked him with a knife, before going on to take his own life. It happened less than one day after the 24-year-old underwent a mental health evaluation, but was ultimately released from an emergency custody order because a psychiatric bed reportedly couldn't be found.
Senator Deeds proposes to extend the amount of time a person can be held under an emergency custody order from six to twenty four hours, but lawmakers say the amount of time is a moving target as they try to strike a balance between getting someone help and respecting their civil liberties.
"There's no reason people who need help, not to get it," says Sen. Henry Marsh. "The current time is too small, so I think it's going to be expanded but exactly how much, I don't know."
"We want to be in a situation in which everyone gets the treatment they need and families get the services they need without any individual being held for long periods of time in non-therapeutic environments," ACLU's Claire Gastanaga.
Some law enforcement organizations are concerned about the bill because they fear too much time could put some smaller departments under constraints should they have to hold someone under an emergency custody order for more than six hours as a psychiatric bed is located.
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