Laura's Law: Positive Steps Towards Helping the Mentally Ill

Laura's Law is a California State law that provides court ordered outpatient and community treatment options to people who suffer from a mental illness and are not able to get mental health help voluntarily. Other characteristics that make an individual with a mental illness eligible for court ordered treatment are:

  • An inability to be a part of society without supervision
  • A history of failed mental health treatment
  • A past history of hospitalizations, crime, or violence as a result of mental illness.

This month, Orange County became one of the first counties in California to put into practice Laura's Law. In 2002, Laura's Law was passed in California with the requirement that each county vote for it separately. By passing this law, police officers, mental health experts, and family members can recommend this form of treatment. Named after Laura Wilcox who was killed by a man with a mental illness that was never treated, adopting Laura's Law takes a positive step towards keeping the mentally ill from seeing the inside of a prison cell.

The importance of this law is its ability to get help for the mentally ill who do not believe they are sick. "Often times mentally ill commit crimes, then are put in jail for their actions," attorney Joshua Newstat said, "but in reality, if their illness were treated, they could have avoided prison entirely."

Mental Illness can put a loved one in serious trouble. Diseases such as Schizophrenia or Boarderline Personality Disorder can result in prison, violence, and homelessness. Similar to Laura's Law, The Attorneys at Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP want to help those who suffer from mental illness by trying to arrange community or outpatient treatment before prison is part of the equation.