Search Results for: virginia inspector general

Who’s To Blame in Virginia For The Deeds Tragedy? Apparently No One!


Accountability matters.

A jet crashes. People die. A whistleblower reveals that airline officials were warned two years earlier about a fatal flaw in the engine that caused the crash but executives ignored those warnings.

How would the public react?

The Virginia Office of Inspector General issued a damning report in 2012 about “streeting” — emergency rooms turning away patients because there were no psychiatric beds available even though the patients were in the midst of a mental crisis.  The author of that report, G. Douglas Bevelacqua, warned the state’s Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services that Virginia had a bed shortage problem that needed to be fixed.

No one listened.

Click to continue…

Virginia IG Report About Deeds Tragedy: Breaking News


I’ve just obtained a copy of the Virginia Inspector General Report investigating the Virginia State Senator Creigh Deeds’ tragedy. You might recall that Inspector General Douglas Bevelacqua resigned after claiming that this investigative report was being watered down by his bosses. You can read the report by clicking here.



Muzzling A Watchdog: Virginia Investigator Looking at Deeds’ Case Resigns In Protest


Virginians with mental illnesses are losing a powerful voice.

G. Douglas Bevelacqua, director of the Office of the State Inspector General’s division of health and developmental services, submitted his resignation to the governor March 1st, citing differences with his boss, Michael F.A. Morehart. News of his resignation was released today.

As documented several times in this blog, Bevelacqua has been a tireless advocate for mental health reform in Virginia. His resignation is a real kick in the gut to those of us who want to see Virginia’s system improved.

Click to continue…

A Family Speaks Out: Virginia’s Jail Patchwork: Some Offer Help, Most Don’t


A FRIDAY STORY: Here’s another frustrating and tragic  story about a young man who ended up entangled in the criminal justice system because of a mental illness. The Richmond Times-Dispatch has been keeping a spotlight on our state’s  fractured mental health care system. That’s important since Richmond is the state capital. Sadly, this story could have been published in nearly any state.  When I contacted the family after reading this story to learn if I could share it on my blog, I got this email reply.

Mr. Earley,

One thing we have found when dealing with a family member who has mental illness is that it is one of the loneliest places a family can be.  No one seems to understand that this is a real illness with devastating effects. Before his illness manifested itself, our son was on top of the world — he was what every parent wanted for their son.  The Captain and Quarterback of his high school football team and one of the bestClick to continue…

Fear Mongering In Virginia: Can You Be Locked In a Mental Ward Without Reason?

If you believe stories on the Internet, thousands of Virginia residents are being locked up in mental hospitals each year against their will because of a “corrupt” state involuntary commitment process. That’s right, as many as 20,000 are being forced into hospitals annually on a whim, because of unproven phone call accusations or as punishment because of their anti-government views.

This startling claim  has been made by John W. Whitehead, a Virginia civil rights attorney, who founded his own watchdog group– The Rutherford Institute — in Richmond. In a series of interviews with Business Insider, Whitehead said:

“I’m friends with the local police; I could call them right now and probably get you committed if you were in Virginia. They can arrive at your door based on somebody’s testimony or your Facebook page and take you away to a mental hospital… There’s a system here that is corrupt...”

Whitehead’s allegations were sparked by an incident in late August when local and federal law enforcement officers knocked on the door of  Brandon Raub, a 26 year-old former Marine, living in Richmond. The local FBI office had received a complaint about Raub because of several posts that he had put on his Facebook page.  The local FBI office notified the U.S. Secret Service and police department. On August 17th,  a team of officers went to evaluate Raub. During that interview, it was decided that Raub was showing signs of a mental disorder and needed to be temporarily detained until he could be evaluated and, if necessary, involuntarily committed to a hospital. 

Click to continue…

Justice Dept. To Investigate Treatment Of Mentally Ill in Va. Jail: Major Victory for Mental Health Advocates

Sonia Adams holds the program for her son Jamycheal Mitchell's funeral as her sister Roxanne Adams stands behind her Friday, May 6, 2016. Mitchell was found dead in his cell at Hampton Roads Regional Jail.

Sonia Adams holds the program for her son Jamycheal Mitchell’s funeral as her sister Roxanne Adams stands behind her Friday, May 6, 2016. Mitchell was found dead in his cell at Hampton Roads Regional Jail.

(12-12-16) Breaking news! The U.S. Department of Justice today announced it will investigate the Hampton Roads Regional Jail in Portsmouth, Va., after repeated requests from mental health advocates following the death of Jamycheal Mitchell, a 24 year-old African American with schizophrenia who suffered a fatal heart attack prompted by starvation after spending 101 days in jail last year.

Seven advocacy groups initially requested an investigation of the jail, including:

  • The National Alliance on Mental Illness of Virginia, the state office of NAMI;
  • NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), the national organization of NAMI;
  • NAMI Hampton-Newport News, a local affiliate of NAMI;
  • The ACLU of Virginia;
  • NAACP Portsmouth;
  • Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law and
  • The Mental Health America of Virginia, a statewide organization.
  • The Treatment Advocacy Center signed a second version of a letter to the Justice Department sent by the original 7 agencies.

I also called for an investigation, and was joined by The Washington Post, after state agencies failed to publicly explain how Mitchell, who was accused of stealing $5.05 worth of snack foods, died in the jail while reportedly under the daily medical care of a nurse and regular checks by correctional officers. Two investigative reporters for The Richmond Times Dispatch, Sarah Kleiner and K. Burnell Evans, were relentless in investigating Mitchell’s death, and deserve credit for keeping this story alive, as does Gary Harki, with the Virginian Pilot.  Another key player in publicly demanding an investigation was Douglas Bevelacqua, a former Virginia inspector general responsible for mental health probes.

All of us who care about the inappropriate incarceration of persons with mental disorders owe a huge thank you to the eight groups and the investigative reporters who focused on this horrific case. It is important to note that the Justice Department did not state that it would specifically investigate Mitchell’s death. This is unfortunate. But it will look at practices in the jail and hopefully its probe will improve services there that will spread across the state. This is a major victory for Virginia NAMI’s Mira Signer, who spearheaded the effort, and it should be further embarrassment for state officials and Virginia agencies charged with protecting persons with mental illnesses who should have investigated this when it first happened but chose instead to simply allow jail officials to investigate and absolve themselves. I will be writing more about this later.

Email message to me from Justice Department official:


Because you had previously provided information to our office as we did preliminary work on this matter, I wanted to let you know that our office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia have just formally opened an investigation into the Hampton Roads Regional Jail.  Thanks again for your help during our preliminary inquiry.  I will be continuing to work on this case going forward, so please do not hesitate to contact me should you have any questions or have any information you believe would aid us in our investigation.

Click to continue…