Board Votes to Implement Laura’s Law

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to implement Laura’s Law, which allows counties to seek court-ordered outpatient treatment for people with severe mental illness.

The supervisors approved an implementation plan, and authorized staff to issue a competitive solicitation for Laura’s Law services, also known as assisted outpatient treatment.

The item was approved 3-1, with Supervisors Greg Cox, Dianne Jacob and Dave Roberts voting in favor, and Chairman Bill Horn opposing. Supervisor Ron Roberts was absent.

The program will serve people with serious mental illness who have a history of refusing to accept treatment and who have a recent history of psychiatric hospitalizations, incarcerations, or threats or attempts of serious violence toward themselves or others.

The California Legislature passed Laura’s Law in 2002 to provide California counties an option to implement court-ordered services to individuals with serious mental illness. Currently, four California counties have adopted a Laura’s Law program and are providing services. Three other counties have adopted a program but are not yet providing services.

In 2011, San Diego County adopted the In Home Outreach Team (IHOT) as an alternative to Laura’s Law. The program — which is similar to Laura’s Law, but allows for voluntary rather than mandatory treatment – has drawn praise from mental health officials and affected families.

As part of the action Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors will receive status reports every six months with outcomes for IHOT and Laura’s Law services.

People experiencing mental health challenges can access services by calling the County’s 24-hour, multilingual Access and Crisis Line at (888) 724-7240.