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San Diego To Consider Laura’s Law

San Diego County Supervisors are considering whether to adopt a state law that allows court-ordered treatment for mentally ill patients who refuse to take medication.

Aired 3/20/13 on KPBS News.

San Diego County is considering whether to adopt Laura's Law, a state law that allows court-ordered treatment for mentally ill patients who refuse to take medication.

Laura’s Law has been cited as a way to help prevent tragedies like the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut.

Supervisors Dianne Jacob and Dave Roberts initiated a staff review of the law.

Implementing Laura’s Law would make it possible to mandate outpatient treatment for patients who refused it. San Diego currently has an in-home treatment program called IHOT, which is voluntary.

Roberts said 19 family members, including one of his neighbors, testified before the board about the difficulties they face with loved ones who are mentally ill but refuse treatment.

“Right now if they are not in the IHOT demonstration program,” he said. “They have to go to the criminal justice system to get their loved ones into protection, and that’s not a good choice either. So where is the balance?"

Supervisors may ask the state to modify Laura’s Law before adopting it in San Diego.

In the past, San Diego County has chosen not to implement Laura’s Law, partly to preserve patients’ rights and partly to save money. But Roberts said county staff will look at whether implementing the law could actually save money in the long run.

The supervisors will consider staff findings in 90 days before voting on whether to adopt the law.

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