Placer County OKs implementing Laura’s Law |

Placer County OKs implementing Laura’s Law

The Placer County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a resolution authorizing the implementation of Laura's Law, which allows for court-ordered assisted outpatient treatment for the mentally ill.

Signed into law in 2002, it is named after Laura Wilcox, a Penn Valley woman killed at 19 during a shooting rampage in 2001 by Scott Thorpe. The 41-year-old Thorpe had had a long history of mental illness and had been subjected to various terms of hospitalizations before opening fire and killing Wilcox and Pearlie Mae Feldman, 68. Thorpe then drove to Lyon's Restaurant, where he shot and killed Michael Markle, 24.

To qualify for the program, the person must have a serious mental illness and a recent history of psychiatric hospitalizations, jailings or acts, threats or attempts of serious violent behavior toward self or others. The person must also have been offered an opportunity to voluntarily participate in a treatment plan by the local mental health department yet failed to the point that he or she would likely relapse or deteriorate to the point of being dangerous to self or others.

Nevada County fully implemented an assisted outpatient treatment program in 2008. Los Angeles County subsequently opted for a small pilot program, and Yolo County voted to implement a pilot program in 2013. The Orange County board of supervisors approved the implementation of Laura's Law in May of this year, and the San Francisco board of supervisors followed suit in July.

The resolution passed by the Placer County supervisors declares that no voluntary services will be reduced as a result of implementing Laura's Law. The program expects to serve about 20 people a year, at an estimated treatment cost of $400,000. The program will be fully funded by state mental health funds, augmented by federal financial participation, with no net cost to the county.

To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email or call 530-477-4229.

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