Family of man who died in Hampton Roads Regional Jail joins delegates to push for new laws

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RICHMOND, Va. – The family of a young man who died at the Hampton Roads Regional Jail is pushing for laws to help inmates with mental health issues.

Jamycheal Mitchell was found dead in his cell on August 19, 2015.

He had been arrested in April 2015 for stealing $5 worth of food from a Portsmouth convenience store.

Mitchell’s family was in Richmond Wednesday morning where the General Assembly is in session. The Portsmouth chapter of the NAACP posted a Facebook Live video on the press conference introducing the legislation.

During the press conference, Mitchell’s aunt, Roxanne Adams, said, “We don’t want this to happen to any other young men in Virginia. We plead with legislators to insure that changes are made in the law to better protect young men like Jamychael who suffer from mental illness.”

Several bills are being introduced by different delegates relating to mental health in Virginia jails. Here is a complete list:

HB 1549, Delegate Farrell
Provides that the core of services provided by community services boards and behavioral health authorities shall include, effective July 1, 2018, (i) same-day access to mental health screening services and (ii) outpatient primary care screening and monitoring services for physical health indicators and health risks and follow-up services for individuals identified as being in need of assistance with overcoming barriers to accessing primary health services. The bill provides that the core of services provided by community services boards and behavioral health authorities shall additionally include, effective July 1, 2021, crisis services for individuals with mental health or substance use disorders; outpatient mental health and substance abuse services; psychiatric rehabilitation services; peer support and family support services; mental health services for certain members of the armed forces and veterans; care coordination services; and case management services, including targeted mental health case management services. The bill also requires the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services to report annually regarding progress in the implementation of this act.

HB 1966, Delegate Hope
Requires that a defendant who is found incompetent to stand trial for a crime and who is ordered to receive treatment to restore his competency at an inpatient hospital be transferred to the hospital as soon as practicable, but no later than 10 days, from the issuance of the court order for restoration treatment.

HB 1977, Delegate Hope
Authorizes a law-enforcement officer who makes a warrantless arrest of a person for a misdemeanor offense who the officer believes has a mental illness to transport such person to a crisis stabilization unit or similar facility in lieu of taking him before a magistrate, provided that the use of such unit or facility has been approved by the chief judge of the circuit court serving the jurisdiction where the arrest occurred. Any person transported to such unit or facility shall be issued a summons by the arresting officer for the offense for which he was arrested.

HB 2183, Delegate Yost
Requires that the Board of Health include in its state plan for medical assistance services a provision that (i) requires an inmate’s Medicaid eligibility to be placed in suspension, rather than terminated, during his incarceration and (ii) provides that the time during which the inmate is incarcerated shall not be included in determining the date by which he must recertify his eligibility for medical assistance.

HB 2184, Delegate Yost
Evaluation of inmate being assessed for inpatient psychiatric hospital admission. Requires that the person having custody of an inmate ensure that such inmate receives any evaluation or assessment required to be considered in a hearing related to inpatient psychiatric hospital admission.

HB 2331, Delegate Heretick
Provides that the duties of a community services board include providing preadmission screening services to inmates incarcerated in a regional jail where the locality served by the community services board is a participant in such jail. The bill allows for one or more of the community services boards that serve such localities to enter into a joint agreement regarding the provision of such services.

SB 933, Senator Favola
Require Mental Health First Aid training for sheriffs and jail officers, correctional officers employed by DOC, and juvenile correctional officers employed at a juvenile correctional facilities

SB 935, Senator Lucas
Removes the prohibition on inpatient psychiatric hospital admission for defendants who have already been ordered to receive treatment to restore their competency to stand trial.

SB 940, Senator Cosgrove
Requires that the staff of a local or regional correctional facility screen persons admitted to the facility for mental illness using a scientifically validated instrument designated by the Commissioner of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services. The bill provides that if the screening indicates that a person may have a mental illness, an assessment of his need for mental services shall be conducted within 72 hours of the time of the screening by a qualified mental health professional.

Senator Howell and Delegate Yost
Budget amendments to expand permanent supportive housing for 660 clients of community services boards who are unstably housed and frequent users of emergency and crisis services, and inpatient hospitalization, and are in need of permanent supportive housing.

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