Attorney General Bob McDonnell to Focus on Mental Health Reform

January 8, 2008

Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell said Tuesday that he will focus on mental health reform and illegal immigration in the 2008 General Assembly.

He wants to lower the commitment standard for the mentally ill. Currently, someone has to be considered an "imminent
danger" to himself or others to be committed. McDonnell wants to change the law to allow emergency custody orders, temporary
detention orders and involuntary commitment for a person who poses
a "threat of serious bodily harm."

The mental health reforms comes after the shootings at Virginia Tech. Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people and himself at Tech's Blacksburg
campus on April 16. Cho had been ruled an "imminent danger to
himself" during a court commitment hearing in 2005 and was ordered
to receive outpatient mental health care, but he never received the

McDonnell said he supported several measures dealing with
illegal immigrants who wind up in police custody. One bill would
require law enforcement officers to notify federal immigration
officials if someone in custody appears to be an illegal alien.
Another would deny bail for any illegal immigrant who is charged
with a crime until after trial.

The Republican attorney general also will support several
proposals on the environment, prisoner re-entry, consumer
protection and animal cruelty, which became a hot topic last year
after NFL star Michael Vick and others were convicted in a
dogfighting conspiracy ring in rural Virginia.

The 2008 General Assembly session begins on Wednesday.

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