Home Crime It’s Insanity that Governor Northam Didn’t Veto This Bill

It’s Insanity that Governor Northam Didn’t Veto This Bill

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by Cindy

Governor Northam’s deadline to veto bills was today at midnight. He vetoed several bad bills, such as HB110 (to make franchise employees not count as employees of the franchisor), HB1257 (to ban sanctuary cities that already can’t exist in Virginia), HB1204 (that would have given a tax break to wealthy Arlington country club owners), HB375 (that would prevent localities from offering higher wage contracts than state minimums), and HB1270 (that would prohibit Virginia from joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative). I really do appreciate that he vetoed these, and I’m pretty confident all his vetoes will be upheld.

But I don’t understand how HB1193 slipped through. HB1193:

“…provides that a person who is acquitted by reason of insanity of an offense and convicted of another offense must serve his sentence for the conviction prior to being committed for inpatient hospitalization or, if the person has already been committed at the time of the conviction, be transferred to the custody of the correctional facility where he is to serve his sentence and returned to commitment upon completion of his sentence.”

So even though there might have been enough evidence that someone was suffering from such terrible mental illness as to be acquitted by a court, this bill would delay treating their mental illness and instead throw them into the general prison population, where they won’t get the treatment they need, and are possibly more likely to put themselves or other prisoners at risk.

This is a bad bill that the Governor absolutely should have vetoed. His veto would have been upheld easily, given the original votes on the bill (passing on straight party-line in the Senate, and 66-30 in the House). Put together with the “compromise” package where an awful restitution bill (that imposes essentially indefinite probation on those who are unable to pay restitution) was agreed to in exchange for a very modest increase in the felony larceny threshold that was already likely to pass (a $500 felony larceny rate had already passed the Senate in previous years, only failing in the previously 66-34 Republican-held House), it’s starting to look like it’s going to be a long four years for criminal justice reform here in Virginia.

  • I wonder how often this situation actually occurs, and what prompted the introduction of the bill?

    • Rich Johnson

      A recent Court of Appeals decision brought to light a plea agreement. While it was the intent of the parties that the accused serve their time in a mental facility first, it was not explicit enough in the agreement. This decision, bringing to light the remote possibility of this happening, brought on the heavy hand of the legislature.

      • RobertColgan

        By “heavy hand of the legislature” you do mean their collective idiocy, right? Because that explains it nicely.

        • Rich Johnson

          Yes, that works as well.

    • Cindy

      Not all that often, fortunately. I don’t think there are all that many acquittals by reason of insanity. Still…

  • RobertColgan

    Wow. I can’t figure out which is more insane —— treating the insane as sane or the insanity of writing a bill which contends insanity is not really a medical condition that requires treatment.
    Staggering.

    But whoever is unlucky enough to run afoul of this POS legislation will be in shared company ———-ever since the mental institutions and emergency mental treatment facilities were phased out as “humane” cost saving measures, prisons and jails became the new homes to those suffering with many DSM aberrations.
    Humane, we’re not.

    • The John Hinckley case also spurred a backlash against the insanity defense. People’s attitude was, “Just because you’re crazy doesn’t mean you shouldn’t suffer for what you did.”

  • Jason Rylander

    That is truly abominable. I wonder if that bill could be subject to a constitutional challenge. It seems entirely unfair, lacking in due process, and cruel and unusual.