SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – A measure to implement Laura’s Law in San Francisco has been approved by the Board of Supervisors.

Laura’s Law was adopted statewide in 2002. It permits courts to order a small subset of people with serious mental illness who meet very narrowly defined criteria to accept treatment as a condition of living in the community. The law was named after Laura Wilcox, a mental health worker in Nevada County, who in 2001 was killed by a psychiatric patient who refused treatment.

The board adopted the ordinance proposed by Supervisor Mark Farrell by a 9-2 vote on Tuesday. Supervisor Eric Mar was one of the holdouts.

“It’s a small number of people that may be impacted, but I feel like it’s going down a road further stigmatizing an already stigmatized population of people,” Mar said.

Farrell and fellow Supervisor Scott Wiener pushed hard for the measure, arguing it would help families who are dealing with mentally ill loved ones, while also improving public safety.

“Laura’s Law focuses on the most vulnerable individuals in our society who need the help the most and they possess significant deficit and self awareness,” Farrell said.

“We don’t have all of the tools that we need to try to address this very difficult and very vexing problem, “ Supervisor Wiener added. The program also requires the creation of a care team to try to engage individuals referred for assisted outpatient treatment in voluntary treatment prior to imposition of court-ordered treatment.

Farrell had previously said that if the board did not pass the ordinance, he would have asked voters to approve Laura’s Law on the November ballot.

Yolo County and Orange County have already adopted Laura’s Law, and Los Angeles County is set to decide next week whether to fully implement the state law after authorizing a voluntary pilot program.


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