Community News — 12 April 2011

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) toured Alexandria Thursday, dropping by Samuel Tucker Elementary School to give students a civics lesson before heading to the jail to learn about the citys approach to inmates with mental illness. 
    
After fielding questions about his family life and the averted government shut down, Cuccinelli urged the fifth grade students to stay involved in the community and remain active citizens. 
    
When you get to be 18 just remember every vote does count. Literally, every vote counts, he said. The worst thing you can do is not participate. Anybody can do that.
    
Cuccinelli dropped by the Alexandria Detention Center later in the day and discussed the mental illness within the citys criminal justice system. The attorney general, who has long been involved in mental illness issues, pledged to help local officials reform the process for the mentally ill. 
    
Nearly one-third of the prisoners in Alexandrias jail suffer from mental illness, officials said. 
    
Local jails have essentially become the mental health institution of the last resort, said Cuccinelli, who served as a court-appointed attorney in the commonwealths involuntary civil commitment process.
    
In this area, there are folks who really put their head into the sand, he said. If I know where those people are I will have the opportunity to work with them If there are opportunities for them to improve, Im happy to nudge them.

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