Los Angeles Readies Itself to Implement Laura’s Law

As previously reported, Los Angeles County leaders voted in July to fully implement Laura’s Law (AB 1421), a state statute that gives counties the option to pursue court-ordered outpatient treatment for people with serious mental illness. Los Angeles County launched a small outpatient treatment program soon after Laura’s Law took effect in 2003, but that program was purely voluntary. Now, the supervisors voted 4 to 0, with Don Knabe absent, to expand the existing outpatient treatment program from 20 to 300 slots and create a team that will reach out to potential patients and manage the court filing process when necessary.

Once implemented, which will take place over the foreseeable weeks, Laura’s Law will:

  • Permit people who are severely disabled by mental illness–and currently caught in a revolving door of homelessness, incarceration, and hospitalization–to receive timely, continuous, and supervised treatment in the community.
  • Safeguard the public and the person, by allowing families and mental health professionals to petition for “assisted outpatient treatment” for individuals incapacitated by mental illness before they become a danger to themselves or others.
  • Protect the rights of the individual by requiring court approval of the petition to provide “assisted outpatient treatment” to assure that it is applied only to those who are so severely disabled by mental illness that they are unable to stay in treatment without help and supervision.
  • Authorize “assisted outpatient treatment” orders lasting up to 180 days and, when appropriate, the renewal of them.
    Provide those under orders with intensive, supervised mental health treatment in the community until they are capable of maintaining their own psychiatric care and recovery
  • Reduce county expenditures on law enforcement interaction, judicial, jail, and crisis services.

There have been positive results in a growing number of counties in California. If you are concerned or interested in how Laura’s Law will actually function, you can see a Functional Outline of the law by CLICKING HERE.

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