Laura’s Law extended for 5 years; bill’s sponsor hopes to make law permanent
The parents of Laura Wilcox want the state law that bears their daughter’s name to become permanent one day.
Laura’s Law, which enables judges to order someone into outpatient mental health treatment if certain requirements are met, had an expiration date when it was first crafted. The Legislature has extended that deadline before each expiration date, the most recent extension happening this month.
Laura’s Law was set to expire on Jan. 1. It now will remain in effect until Jan. 1, 2022.
“We’re very glad that the governor signed the bill,” said Amanda Wilcox, Laura’s mother. “I wish it was permanent, but an extension is good.”
The Wilcoxes helped make the law become a reality after the Jan. 10, 2001, shooting death of their daughter in Nevada County. Scott Harlan Thorpe fatally shot Laura Wilcox and two others that day. He was mentally ill and not receiving treatment.
Assemblywoman Marie Waldron, a Republican whose district is north of San Diego, sponsored AB 59, which extended Laura’s Law.
Waldron in an email said she tried twice before to make Laura’s Law permanent. Both attempts failed in committee.
Future attempts are possible as assisted outpatient treatment becomes more prevalent.
“I am exploring efforts next year on making the program permanent as assisted outpatient treatment has been proven by cities (with more and more cities implementing it in their counties) to assist individuals that are mentally ill,” Waldron stated.
Amanda Wilcox said that five years ago, Nevada County was the only county that had implemented Laura’s Law. Now over half the state’s population live in counties that have implemented it.
“We’re grateful to Assemblywoman Waldron for pushing this,” Wilcox added. “This isn’t a partisan issue.”
Counties must opt into Laura’s Law. If someone lives in a county with the law, is at least 18 and has a history of violence, a judge can order outpatient mental health treatment for him or her.
According to Michael Heggarty, director of the county’s Health & Human Services Agency, some 90 people in this county have been affected by Laura’s Law. All of them refused voluntary treatment.
“There was no other legal way to engage those people in treatment without Laura’s Law,” Heggarty said, adding later, “We can intervene before the emergency happens.”
To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4239.
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