Introduced Version House Concurrent Resolution 110 History

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(By Delegates Hatfield, Guthrie, Poore, Morgan and Skaff)




Requesting the Joint Committee on Government and Finance to conduct a study on the involuntary commitment process in West Virginia.

    Whereas, West Virginia’s “mental hygiene” laws govern the involuntary hospitalization of persons with mental illness, and addiction; and

    Whereas, Most of West Virginia’s current mental hygiene laws are still based on 1965 code, and at that time, prolonged institutionalization was still a customary treatment for severely disabling and chronic mental illnesses and lengthy institutionalization was common for chronic addicts; and

    Whereas, To protect the constitutional and human rights of people who have brain-related disorders, procedures and standards were designed to assure that due process is guaranteed in all commitment proceedings, and that the least restrictive form of treatment is used; and

    Whereas, Despite these substantial and ongoing changes in society’s understanding of, and response to, mental disorders and conditions, there has been little corresponding change in the involuntary hospitalization and treatment laws, and West Virginia’s mental health system, on both a procedural and substantive level, has not kept up with the times; and

    Whereas, West Virginia’s system of involuntary commitment is the only one in the nation that mandates forthwith commitment and the current system is excessively expensive and needs to be economized to make sense to taxpayers; and

    Whereas, There are parts of the state where it is difficult for lawyers to serve as mental hygiene commissioners; and

    Whereas, A more economical system of employing mental hygiene commissioners is needed; and

    Whereas, The citizens of West Virginia need to have their public safety and due process rights secured in comprehensive ways; and

    Whereas, The Legislature, in its wisdom, enabled the creation of a pilot project in Kanawha County that has proven to be successful and less costly; and

    Whereas, The growing number of citizens abusing or are addicted to drugs has created a great degree of confusion within the commitment process; and

    Whereas, The Comprehensive Behavioral Health Commission and advisory board has recommended that the Legislature study and overhaul the involuntary commitment process; and

    Whereas, Focuses were made on the use of a three-day observation period, treatment approach, more time-lines of the process and more attention to the human aspect of the process; and

    Whereas, The Legislature recognizes that the overall process is not working as well as it should, and the complexity and dynamics of the process requires a comprehensive study, analysis and development of the right improvements for the entire process, including looking at effective models in other states in order to move West Virginia toward a new process; therefore, be it

    Resolved by the Legislature of West Virginia:

    That the Joint Committee on Government and Finance is hereby requested to study the involuntary commitment process in West Virginia; and, be it

    Further Resolved, It is the intent of the Legislature to obtain input from a variety of stakeholders including, but not limited to, the courts, sheriffs, appropriate agencies from the Department of Health and Human Resources, the Comprehensive Behavioral Health Commission and its advisory board, the West Virginia Hospital Association, regional mental health centers and the West Virginia Mental Health Consumers Association in order to devise a more effective and suitable approach to the involuntary commitment process in West Virginia; and, be it

    Further Resolved, That the Joint Committee on Government and Finance report to the regular session of the Legislature, 2013, on its findings, conclusions and recommendations, together with drafts of any legislation necessary to effectuate its recommendations; and, be it

    Further Resolved, That the expenses necessary to conduct this study, to prepare a report and to draft necessary legislation be paid from legislative appropriations to the Joint Committee on Government and Finance.

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