California's Senate Health Committee has passed SB 664, also known as Laura's Law, which would make it easier for counties to implement Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) orders for potentially dangerous mentally ill patients.
A press release from Senator Yee, who sponsored the legislation, notes that "Laura’s Law is named for Laura Wilcox, a 19-year old high school valedictorian who was shot to death at a Nevada County mental health clinic in 2001 by a man suffering from paranoid schizophrenia who consistently refused treatment."
A portion of the press release is below the jump.
For Immediate Release:
April 24, 2013
Contact: Dan Lieberman,
(916) 651-4008, (650) 773-9794
Senate Health Committee Pushes Implementation of Laura’s Law
Yee’s SB 664 removes red tape in order to make California safer
SACRAMENTO – Today, the Senate Health Committee passed Senate Bill (SB) 664, which makes it easier for counties to implement Laura’s Law, a program that allows enforcement of Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) orders for potentially dangerous mentally ill patients.
Specifically, SB 664 would remove unnecessary and cumbersome barriers to implementation of Laura’s Law, such as allowing counties to use existing mental health funds to implement the program as well as removing the redundant requirement of a vote of the local county board of supervisors.
Laura's Law allows counties to assure that court-ordered help reaches people who are not complying with voluntary treatment programs, have a history of hospitalization, arrest or violent behavior and are potentially dangerous to themselves or others.
“When someone with a severe mental illness is a threat to themselves or others, it is to everyone’s benefit that they see a doctor” said Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo), a child psychologist. “Laura’s Law can help assure that those who need treatment get treatment.”
Many counties have failed to implement Laura's Law despite the fact that the policy has proven to result in less hospitalization, less homelessness, fewer arrests, less incarceration, increased collaboration between the mental health and justice systems, as well as a more efficient and effective cross-agency delivery system.
While Los Angeles County has initiated a small pilot program, only Nevada County has fully implemented Laura’s Law. After implementation, incarceration of those affected dropped 65%, homelessness 61%, and the County saved between $1.81 and $2.52 for every dollar spent. As a result, Nevada County has won state and national awards, including the National Association of Counties’ Achievement Award in Health. ...