The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has thrown its weight behind Laura's Law — which allows counties to create court-ordered outpatient mental health treatment for the severely ill who have cycled through hospitals or jails and refused voluntary care — saying in a resolution that such programs have been shown to "significantly reduce" homelessness, hospitalization and arrest.
The resolution, authored by Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, directs the county's chief executive and legislative advocates to get behind five new state bills that would make it easier for counties to create such programs and secure "mental health treatment for those who refuse to get help on their own."
The back story: State lawmakers passed Laura's Law, patterned after New York state's Kendra's Law but which came with no funding, in 2002. It also required approval by each county board of supervisors. Since then, only Nevada County, where the law's namesake, Laura Wilcox, was shot to death by a mental health client who had begun refusing treatment, has implemented such a program.
That county agreed to do so under a civil settlement with Laura's parents, Nick and Amanda Wilcox. It has since been hailed by Nevada County's civil grand jury as a model and long-term cost saver. But opposition statewide by advocates opposed to involuntary care has kept it from spreading. (At Antonovich's urging, Los Angeles County implemented a pilot program that offers the same intensive treatment required under Laura's Law, but it does not rely on involuntary court orders.)