Seven weeks after Gus Deeds stabbed father Creigh and then fatally shot himself, the Virginia state senator has introduced three bills intended to improve the state's mental health system. On Nov. 18, Gus Deeds was released from an emergency custody order for a mental health evaluation, because no psychiatric beds could be found for him. "I think that was irresponsible," the elder Deeds tells the Roanoke Times. His legislation would extend the time limit for such orders to 24 hours, from a current maximum of six hours. A second bill would establish a Web-based psychiatric bed registry with real-time information about both public and private facilities, so workers would no longer have to use the phone in an attempt to find beds.
The final bill Deeds submitted would require the behavioral health department to review state requirements regarding training, qualifications, and oversight of workers who evaluate patients under emergency custody orders. Deeds says the state needs mental health reform, and that he's heard from others who have had negative experiences. "I'm not by myself in this," he says. He plans to be at the state Capitol tomorrow when the General Assembly session starts. Meanwhile, a new mental health task force formed by the governor is meeting for the first time today, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports. Deeds had only this to say about his son personally: "I had a sinking feeling that he was going to come home ... and he was going to be upset. I didn’t think he would be violent." (Read more Creigh Deeds stories.)