Friday, August 25, 2006

"They should be elsewhere, getting the help they need."

Those words come from Richmond Sheriff C.T. Woody, discussing the plight of the severely mentally ill in Virginia’s jails.

Virginia’s treatment laws haven’t kept pace with the science of treating severe mental illness or the realities of the system of care in place in the state. As a consequence, the mental health system has failed many of the most severely mentally ill.

One major flaw of Virginia’s system is an outdated AOT law. Without effective AOT provisions, providers have no means to ensure consistent care in the community for the most severely ill. As Sheriff Woody explains, “they frequently get treatment, take their meds for a while, get out and then reoffend.”

Virginia can and should do better.

Posted by John Snook - email John with comments