Los Angeles County has decided to postpone implementation of its outpatient forced treatment law (“Laura’s Law”) in order to try to resolve the legal and civil rights concerns that have been raised, according to representatives of Disability Rights California writing in an op-ed published October 12 in the Sacramento Bee. Last month, Mad In America reported that DRC planned to challenge the outpatient committal legislation in court, and the Bee published an article in support of Laura’s Law on October 5, citing the MIA story and criticizing DRC.
“In the mid-1970s, Congress funded legal-aid groups such as Disability Rights California to defend the civil rights of mentally ill people who were held in inhumane conditions in asylums,” wrote Dan Morain in the Bee. He linked to the Mad In America story about DRC’s plan to challenge Laura’s Law, then quoted Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa., saying that, “Their initial mission of stopping maltreatment has morphed into stopping treatment, and that is wrong.” Morain wrote that Murphy’s bill HR 3717 would change these “antiquated” laws and “pare back the $35 million that the federal government spends on legal-aid groups such as Disability Rights.”
“Some people on the left and right say assisted outpatient treatment strips people of their rights,” Morain concluded. “To the contrary, they have the right to treatment.”
In a response op-ed, Disability Rights California’s Leslie Napper and Leslie Morrison wrote that “studies show that assisted-outpatient treatment will not guarantee those with mental illness receive the services they need. Rather, we want to ensure that counties offer a full range of voluntary mental health services, as required by law, before implementing assisted-outpatient treatment.”
After DRC told the county of their plan to sue, as reported in MIA, Napper and Morrison indicated that the county decided to delay implementing Laura’s Law. “We are pleased that Los Angeles County has decided to delay implementation of assisted-outpatient treatment. We plan to work with the county to resolve our concerns and are not pursuing litigation.”
Dan Morain: Mentally ill deserve more of our attention (Sacramento Bee, October 5, 2014)
Another View: Assisted-outpatient treatment not always effective for mentally ill (Sacramento Bee, October 12, 2014)
DRC Will Challenge California’s Outpatient Committal Laws in Court (Mad In America, September 7, 2014)