San Diego county is one step closer to court ordered treatment for the mentally ill.
The board of supervisors voted unanimously to move forward with a 90 day cost analysis study of Laura’s Law, which would provide a tool to force treatment on people with well documented cases of severe mental illness.
NBC 7 San Diego recently aired multiple stories about the issue following an incident where a man with mental health issues barricaded himself inside an attic last month and shot two deputies. His mother, Michelle Kwik, is urging the county to use Laura's Law.
Nearly 20 people spoke, all in favor of Laura’s Law, at Tuesday’s county supervisor board meeting.
Some told painful and personal stories.
John Wright broke down while recounting how his mentally ill son couldn’t get help until he attacked him last year.
“And watching him get taken away handcuffed in the back of the police car is the most difficult think I’ve done in 63 years” said Wright.
Critics include the county's behavioral health director who calls the law flawed and expensive.
Supervisors Dave Roberts and Dianne Jacob said the initial expense could become a cost benefit down the road.
“The idea is to keep them out of jail and provide proper treatment” said Jacob.
While Laura’s Law is a state law, it must be approved by a local board of supervisors to be implemented. So far the only county in California to do that is Nevada County, east of Yuba City.
“We looked just at Nevada County and they guesstimate for every dollar spent there, they’re saving $1.80 in tax payer costs” said Roberts.
San Diego County has voluntary programs, but there are currently no mandatory options for families of adults who refuse treatment.