San Diego County has voted to implement Laura's Law, a measure that will allow counties to request court-appointed outpatient treatment for people with severe mental illness.
The San Diego County Board of Supervisors approved the implementation plan with a 3 to 1 vote. Chairman Bill Horn opposed the measure and Supervisor Ron Roberts was absent.
"It saves lives and that's what we're hoping to do here," said County Supervisor Dianne Jacob.
Laura’s Law would impact those people with severe mental illness that have a history of refusing to accept treatment and who have recent history of psychiatric hospitalizations, incarcerations, or threats or attempts of serious violence toward themselves or others. Those patients would be compelled by court order to receive treatment if they pose a danger to themselves or other.
"It will be an immense, and immense improvement. Because they would have someplace to go to get help, and it's the helplessness that is so frustrating," said Harold Wachs, a Laura's Law advocate.
It is similar to a voluntary program currently in place in San Diego County called the In Home Outreach Team, which allows for voluntary treatment for similar individuals.
Laura’s Law was passed into state law in 2002.
People experiencing mental health challenges can access services by calling the County’s 24-hour, multi-lingual Access and Crisis Line at (888) 724-7240.