During the 2020 Virginia General Assembly we were instrumental in the passing of 3 new Virginia laws, HB134, HB659 and SB133. We helped create and fought passionately, sometimes from 8 in the morning until after 10 o’clock at night.
During a Virginia General Assembly special session in 2020 we were pleased to advocate for and strongly influence HB5043 (Marcus alert system) to pass and become a new law.
2021 Virginia General Assembly looked much different as we advocated and testified via Zoom. Even though we were in the comfort of our own homes the hours were long for everyone involved, the advocates and legislators. Two more life changing bills, SB1315 and HB2047 passed and became law in July, 2021.
We are grateful to the patrons and the legislators for their hard work and commitment to a more fair and true justice system for all.
HB134: Requires the Department of Education to establish guidelines for individualized education program (IEP) teams to utilize when developing IEPs for children with disabilities to ensure that IEP teams consider the need for age-appropriate and developmentally appropriate instruction related to sexual health, self-restraint, self-protection, respect for personal privacy, and personal boundaries of others. The bill requires each local school board, in developing IEPs for children with disabilities, in addition to any other requirements established by the Board of Education, to ensure that IEP teams consider such guidelines.
HB659: Department of Corrections; workgroup; recommendations to assist people with developmental disabilities. Directs the Department of Corrections to create a workgroup to review current guidelines and develop recommendations that recognize and make accommodations for people with developmental disabilities.
SB133: Deferred disposition in criminal cases. Allows a court to defer and dismiss a criminal case where the defendant has been diagnosed with autism or an intellectual disability and the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that the criminal conduct was caused by or had a direct and substantial relationship to the person’s disorder or disability.
HB5043 Marcus alert system: Decriminalize Developmental Disabilities strongly advocated for this bill and successfully encouraged the bill to include developmental disabilities in addition to a mental health crisis. The bill provides that, by December 1, 2021, DBHDS shall establish five Marcus alert programs and community care or mobile crisis teams, one located in each of the five DBHDS regions.
SB1315: Criminal proceedings; consideration of mental condition and intellectual and developmental disabilities. Permits the admission of evidence offered by the defendant concerning a defendant’s mental condition at the time of an alleged offense, including expert testimony, is relevant, is not evidence concerning an ultimate issue of fact, if such evidence (i) tends to show the defendant did or did not have the specific mental state required for the offense charged and (ii) is otherwise admissible pursuant to the general rules of evidence. If a defendant intends to introduce such evidence, the bill requires him or his counsel to give notice in writing to the attorney for the Commonwealth. The bill also clarifies that a diagnosis of an intellectual or developmental disability shall be considered by a judicial officer for the purpose of rebuttal of a presumption against bail and that a court may order that a sentencing report prepared by a probation officer contain any diagnoses of an intellectual or developmental disability. Lastly, the bill adds to the requirements to be met for qualification as a court-appointed attorney two hours of continuing legal education, which shall cover the representation of individuals with behavioral or mental health disorders and individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities.