The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a motion by Supervisor Michael Antonovich supporting the expansion of a law which allows counties to provide court-ordered mental health treatment for those who refuse to obtain treatment on their own.
“Laura's Law” is a California law that allows a court to compel severely mentally ill individuals to submit to outpatient treatment or antipsychotic drugs in certain cases. To qualify for the program, the person must have a serious mental illness plus a recent history of psychiatric hospitalizations, jailings or acts, threats or attempts of serious violent behavior towards themself or others.
The 2003 law was named after Laura Wilcox, a 19-year-old employee of a Nevada County mental health clinic who was shot to death in 2001 by a mentally ill patient who had refused treatment. So far Laura’s Law has only been fully implemented in Nevada County, but the law is getting a new push by officials throughout California following the mass shootings in Aurora, CO and Newtown, CT, both of which involved troubled young men with a history of mental health issues.
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A pilot program initiated by Antonovich in our county has successfully stabilized and reintegrated participants back into the community with a 78 percent reduction in incarcerations and a 77 percent reduction in hospitalizations. These reductions significantly improved the lives of program participants and cut the costs to the community and taxpayers by almost 40 percent.
“It is vital that life-saving programs are expanded throughout the state to help the mentally ill recover and live productive lives,” said Antonovich.
Laura’s Law was patterned after New York State’s Kendra’s Law, which has shown that assisted outpatient treatment can significantly reduce the mental health consequences for participants.
*SCVNews.com contributed to this article
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