“Laura’s Law” enabling involuntary psychiatric treatment on an outpatient basis could be put to San Francisco voters in a referendum, according to a city government press release. Aljazeera America reports that most U.S. states have passed similar laws, but so far only two California counties have done so. Eduardo Vega of the San Francisco Mental Health Association told Aljazeera America that the reason is, California legislators have looked at the actual scientific evidence – Vega pointed to a comprehensive review for the California Senate which found no evidence supporting such laws. “The involuntary outpatient commitment process has not shown better results than the actual services that people get without a commitment process,” Vega said.
The Board of Supervisors press release states that, “Numerous academic and government studies of [Assisted Outpatient Treatment] show that it drastically reduces hospitalization and incarceration rates, length of hospital stays, arrests, suicide attempts, victimization and violent behavior.” However, the RAND review for the California Senate clarifies that such results typically are produced by an accompanying increased provision of community supports and services for people, not from the use of force.
San Francisco debates controversial mental health law (Aljazeera America, June 14, 2014)
Supervisor Farrell to Introduce Laura’s Law In San Francisco (Press Release, City & County of San Francisco Board of Supervisors, May 20, 2014.)