Laura’s Law Adopted by San Francisco Supervisors

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted 9-2 Tuesday to implement Laura’s Law, a state measure allowing for coerced, outpatient treatment for those deemed severely mentally ill. In doing so, San Francisco has joined the counties of Nevada, Orange, and Yolo. Los Angeles County has also enacted a pilot program of its own. 

“Today we changed the status quo in San Francisco,” said Supervisor Mark Farrell, who led the fight for implementation.  “By implementing Laura’s Law, we are going to help the most vulnerable individuals suffering from mental illness across our city and provide the families the support they deserve." 

Farrell has also received strong support from San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. Lee believes the program will be beneficial for San Francisco’s homeless, many of whom are suffering from debilitating mental health issues. 

Supervisors Eric Mar and John Avalos voted against the measure Tuesday, citing civil rights concerns. Some civil rights advocates have argued that the law could inhibit an individual’s fundamental right to make their own healthcare decisions.   

Laura’s Law was passed at the state level in 2002 but it is only applicable in counties which have agreed to implement it. In order for an individual to be eligible for court-ordered treatment, they must have had two psychiatric hospitalizations in the past 36 months and an act, threat, or attempt at violence within the last 48 months. They must also be deemed likely to benefit from such treatment. If outpatient therapy fails, court-ordered hospitalization is then an option. 

Read more about Tuesday’s vote here.


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