Involuntary commitment; criteria. (SB60)

Introduced By

Sen. Janet Howell (D-Reston)


Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law


Involuntary commitment; criteria. Changes the criteria for emergency custody orders, temporary detention orders, and involuntary commitment so that a person may be taken into emergency custody, placed under temporary detention, or involuntarily committed where it is found that (i) the person has a mental illness, and (ii) there exists a substantial likelihood that, as a result of that mental illness, the person will, in the near future, (a) cause serious physical harm to himself or others as evidenced by recent behavior causing, attempting, or threatening harm, or (b) suffer serious harm due to substantial deterioration of his capacity to protect himself from harm or to provide for his basic human needs. Read the Bill »


12/21/2007: Awaiting a Vote in the Judiciary Committee


12/21/2007Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/09/08 083154248
12/21/2007Referred to Committee for Courts of Justice
01/16/2008Stricken at the request of Patron in Courts of Justice (15-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)

Duplicate Bills

The following bills are identical to this one: SB144 and HB1059.


Alison Hymes writes:

(ii) (b) above was not supported by the Commitment Taskforce of the Commission on Mental Health Law Reform, a majority of the taskforce members who worked for over a year on this issue were opposed to it, yet somehow at the Commission meeting in Hampton where the Commission members voted, this was slipped in as if it had Taskforce consensus and support and the presentation of the Commitment Taskforce's work was completely one-sided with all opposition unacknowledged except for a few protection proposals which were not included in the draft report anyway. This was a totally politically manipulated Commission and remains so today.

Doug Goncz writes:

When the DSM was revised to be sign- and symptom-based, bills like this were far away on the horizon. Now, they loom like mushroom clouds in Nevade during the 1950s. One of the signs of mental illness is thinking there is a conspiracy of some kind. What if that conspiracy is:

1) Real,
2) Motivated by fear, and
3) Enacted as law?

What then? Who gets to decide whether a thought is a delusion or not? The doctor? The patient? God? In this bill, we presume to be able to decide. We are unable to do so. We never have had that ability.

R P McMurphy writes:

I strongly oppose this bill. The standard for involuntary commitment should be stringent. The standard for involuntary commitment should be based upon "present reality", and not on "supposed potential". And by the way, the current standard is not as stringent as the proponents of this bill would like one to believe.

Involuntary commitment is indeed a gross violation of one’s basic civil and human rights. As such, there must be gross justification for this gross infringement. This demands “stringent thresholds”. The nanny state mindset of "Better safe than sorry." is unconscionable and must be replaced with "beyond all reasonable doubt". Indeed, I am appalled at the nonchalant and cavalier attitude toward locking people up that is typically displayed by the employees of the state mental health system.

It is particularly reprehensible that the evaluation of this standard is based entirely upon the opinions of practitioners of an entirely subjective and ambiguous pseudoscience whose inherently high potential for misdiagnosis's is not even given lip service by these practitioners. Psychiatry has no objective verifiable or repeatable "standards". "Diagnosis's" are completely dependent upon subjective and open to interpretation clinical interviews. In a forced setting, these "clinical interviews" are obviously in a stressful and adversarial setting. This is hardly what one would call a productive doctor - patient relationship, especially for a so called profession supposedly built upon listening and trust building. Yet this potential for misdiagnosis and misunderstanding is absolutely missing from these psychiatrists's train of thoughts. People "diagnosed" with mental illness are automatically and infallibly assumed to have the said mental illness. I charge the power the state gives to these people only reinforces their overbearing Chicken Little mentalities.

Hard to believe this is really America. Hard to believe this state was a birthplace for liberty and individual rights. How dare this regression be called reform.

Alison Hymes writes:

The bill was stricken at the request of the sponsor.