Why Laura’s Law?
Recent tragedies in Santa Cruz involving community members with severe mental illness has spotlighted the issue of lack of mental health care options in our County. Laura’s Law—which must be passed by a majority of our County Board of Supervisors to be implemented—offers community-based, assisted outpatient treatment (AOT), to individuals who are too mentally ill to access mental health care on their own. A family member or mental health professional may petition the court to get help for a loved one.
Laura’s Law works
After implementing Laura’s Law, Nevada County found that:
- Hospitalization was reduced 46%;
- Incarceration reduced 65%;
- Homelessness reduced 61%;
- Emergency Contacts reduced 44%;
- Saved of $1.81-$2.52 for every dollar spent as result of reducing incarceration, arrest, and hospitalization.
Who is eligible for Laura’s Law?
Court-ordered AOT under Laura’s Law is limited to persons who:
- have a condition which is substantially deteriorating;
- are unlikely to survive safely in community without supervision;
- have a history of noncompliance that includes two hospitalizations in past 36 months; or
- act/threaten/attempt of violence to self/others in 48 months immediately preceding petition filing;
- are likely to need treatment to prevent meeting inpatient standard (in other words – in danger of being placed on a 5150 hold); and
- are likely to benefit from assisted treatment.
Where Can I Find Out More About Laura’s Law?
For a compilation of everything you need to know about Assisted Outpatient Treatment (Laura’s Law) in California go to: www.mentalillnesspolicy.org/states/lauraslawindex.html
What Can I Do To Help Get Laura’s Law Passed in Santa Cruz County?
All over California, advocates for compassionate and fiscally responsible mental health care are demanding implementation of Laura’s Law in their counties, and using the Internet as a rallying tool. As relatives and friends of those living with mental illness, we have the opportunity to influence the success or failure in Santa Cruz of a law designed to offer community-based assisted outpatient treatment (AOT) to a small population of individuals who meet strict legal criteria and who–as a result of their mental illness – are unable to access community mental health services voluntarily.
Urge your County Supervisor to Support Laura’s Law
The following is a sample letter that can be modified to send to your Supervisor regarding Laura’s Law. See below for email contacts for your Board of Supervisor.
Subject Line: Enact Laura’s Law (AB 1421) in Santa Cruz County
I am writing to request that the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors pass a resolution to implement Laura’s Law in Santa Cruz County.
I support Laura’s Law because it will help to avoid tragedies such as the one that befell the Henderson family in Aptos in June 2013. James Henderson had a lengthy history of arrests and contact with the judicial system before he murdered his own parents, Edyth and Joseph Henderson. Perhaps if he’d had court-ordered mental health treatment his parents – who had attempted in vain to help him – would be alive today. And just recently we had the officer-involved shooting of Sean Arlt, a local man who suffered from a serious mental illness and had a recent history of being hospitalized.
I am a (parent/mother/father/sibling/child/relative/etc.) of a mentally ill (son/daughter/parent/etc.) (you can add an optional short reference to your story – out of control/doesn’t believe he or she is ill/will not seek treatment/concerned for his or her safety/getting worse/deteriorating/concerned for my own or family’s safety/revolving door/jail threat/ suicide threat/etc.)
Studies of counties with similar laws have shown a significant reduction in violent and destructive behaviors as a result of court-ordered treatment. Laura’s Law would also address Santa Cruz’s ongoing “revolving door” problem of mentally ill individuals in our community who are continually arrested and re-arrested. There are funds available through the Prop 63 Mental Health Services Act.
On December 3, 2013, the Santa Cruz City Council Action unanimously approved an Action Item to engage the County to consider enacting Laura’s Law. To date, there has been no public response by the County regarding this action. Why hasn’t a resolution been passed yet?
Approximately 18 counties have passed their own Laura’s Law resolution. I request that you do the same, to both keep our community safe and to provide treatment to our most vulnerable mentally ill.
If you aren’t sure which Supervisor represents you, click here.
SANTA CRUZ NEEDS LAURA’S LAW TO SAVE LIVES, PROTECT THE PUBLIC, AND BETTER USE OF OUR LIMITED RESOURCES
Laura’s Law does not force nor stigmatize
Laura’s Law works with the patient. The relationship between the provider and the client is the main agent of change here, along with the structure and persuasion of the court if needed. AOT is a preventative measure that starts out as an invitation to voluntarily accept services. Laura’s Law is a “compassionate” alternative to section 5150. Ignoring serious mental health will only lead to further criminalizing, stigma, trauma and tragedy.
Known Supporters of Laura’s Law Laura’s Law has extensive support from law enforcement, medical personnel, families of the mentally ill, editorial boards, people with mental illness and fiscal watchdogs.