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Creigh Deeds Introduces Legislation To Extend Emergency Custody Orders

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Virginia state Sen. Creigh Deeds is pushing legislation that would extend emergency custody orders from six to 24 hours.

Last night, Sen. Deeds appeared on CBS' "60 Minutes" to make the case for a number of mental health reforms, and chief among them is a provision extending emergency custody orders. His son ended up committing suicide after being released from custody when mental health officials could not find a psychiatric bed.

But the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia says confinement won't work if sheriff's deputies have to find space in a conference room or a library.

"If it extends it to 24 hours in the back of a sheriff's office, that would be a problem for us," says Claire Gastanaga executive director for ACLU. "If the 24 hours are in a therapeutic environment, where somebody is getting evaluated and treated that's another situation completely."

The Virginia Sheriffs Association has also raised concerns that dealing with mental illness would place an undue burden on their deputies.

"There is not a specific answer yet as to exactly all the steps that will be taken to resolve that. So it's not written into the bill," says State Sen. George Barker.

The bill is still making its way through a series of committees in Richmond.

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