Alison Hymes announces that Virginia has stopped a proposed outpatient commitment program which would allow many Virginians to be court ordered to take psychiatric dugs while living in their own homes.


VIRGINIA: Senate Bill 808, which would have established a program of outpatient commitment throughout Virginia with so few protections that almost anyone who ever had a psychiatric diagnosis and disagreed with their psychiatrist’s treatment plan could be forced to take drugs in their own home, was passed by indefinitely in the Courts of Justice Committee late yesterday.

This bill had less protections of people’s rights than any existing outpatient commitment bill in the country and did not even require that the person subject to forced psychiatric drugging be found to be a danger to self or others nor that they be found to lack capacity to make their own treatment decisions, a right that folks in state hospitals retain.

Without any extra money into the public mental health systerm, this bill would not only have deprived us of our basic civil rights, subjected many to the dangerous side effects of psychotropic drugs without their informed consent and made people with psychiatric labels into third class citizens, it would have turned our public mental health system into a force based system as people ordered into treatment would go to the head of long waiting lists for treatment ahead of all those who are voluntarily seeking treatment and waiting for months all over our state. If only two people per Community Services Board in the state were put into a Program of Assertive Community Treatment (PACT) program through this bill, it would cost an extra two million dollars a year minimum from a mental health system that has endured cuts not just to the muscle but to the bone and has no where left to cut services for voluntary clients.

We are grateful to the members of the Courts of Justice who saw these issues clearly and prevented a very harmful bill from going forward.