Laura’s Law may have prevented Paso Robles death
Capitol Weekly Reports:
Expert says SLO County Supervisors should have implemented Laura’s Law
Opinion by DJ Jaffe, executive director of Mental Illness Policy
The murder of 61-year-old Earlene Grove in April 2012 by her mentally ill daughter Sunni Jackson, 36, in Paso Robles most likely wouldn’t have happened if the San Luis Obispo Board of Supervisors had implemented Laura’s Law.
Laura’s Law allows courts to order certain individuals with serious mental illness – like Sunni, those who have a history of non-compliance with psychiatric treatmen and a history of violence – to stay in treatment as a condition of living in the community. They get full due process and the right to help develop their own treatment plan.
Laura’s Law helps patients and keeps the public and police safer. When Nevada County implemented Laura’s Law it found it reduced incarceration of people with mental illness by 65 percent. It reduced hospitalization, 46 percent; cut homelessness 61 percent, and emergency contacts 44 percent. That’s why it is supported by organizations as diverse as the California State Sheriff’s Association, California Psychiatric Association, and San Luis Obispo Alliance on Mental Illness.
The supervisors can’t claim they didn’t know Laura’s Law saves lives. In 2010, when mentally ill Cliff Detty died in restraints at a mental health facility that he wouldn’t have been in had he received community treatment, his father told reporters Laura’s Law would have saved his life. Op-eds by experts said the same thing.
In 2011, after mentally ill Andrew Downs was committed to a hospital for the Christmas Day shooting of two women, Diane O’Neil, the past president of a local National Alliance on Mental Illness chapter wrote an op-ed on behalf of parents of the mentally ill explaining how Laura’s Law would have prevented the tragedy. It goes on and on. The supervisors don’t have to wait for the next death to act. But they probably will.
The supervisors can’t claim there is no money to implement it for two reasons. First, Laura’s Law saves money. Nevada County found it saved $1.81 to $2.52 for every dollar invested. Los Angeles County estimated it saved taxpayers 40 percent for the care of each person enrolled. The savings come from reduced hospitalization, arrest, trial and incarcerations.
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