(Oct. 24, 2012) With the recent extension of California’s assisted outpatient treatment (AOT) law (“Laura's Law”), county efforts to implement this life-saving measure continue to move forward. And thanks to advocates like Fawn Kennedy in Kern County, more people are learning about the need for court-ordered outpatient treatment in their own communities.
"Laura's Law is a means of bridging the gap that we have in treatment for the seriously mentally ill," Kennedy said recently in BakersfieldNow (“Effort underway to implement ‘Laura’s Law’ for Kern County’s mentally ill,” Oct. 22).
Currently, any one of California’s 58 counties may implement AOT, but each county must pass a resolution adopting the legislation. Only two have done so to date.
Nevada County, the only county to fully implement Laura’s Law, reports that hospital days among participants who had previously been unable to access voluntary community services because of their illness were reduced 61% and incarceration days were reduced 97%. The county estimates it has saved $1.81 for every $1 it has spent on its program, which has won state and national awards. According to Judge Tom Anderson, who runs the Laura’s Law hearings in Nevada County, "There is no good reason to not implement Laura's Law."
In Los Angeles County, a small pilot program has reintegrated participants into their communities. Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich said “the reductions cut county costs for participants by almost 40%.”
Kennedy and other advocates are determined that Kern County follow suit and see Laura’s Law implemented to the fullest extent.
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