A four-year effort by CAGV helped to get Laura’s Law Passed by the SB County Board of Supervisors
On Tuesday May 10, 2016 the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors voted 4 to 1 to adopt Laura’s Law as a pilot program. CAGV has worked for four years using speeches, comments and letters, to educate the Santa Barbara community and the Board of Supervisors to adopt Laura’s Law. We are gratified this much needed treatment option will finally be implemented to help the seriously mentally ill.
The Coalition Against Gun Violence, along with other Santa Barbara agencies, the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) and individuals in the community, such as District Attorney Joyce Dudley, Lynne Gibbs (NAMI) and Retired SB County Fire Chief Tom Franklin, believe Laura’s Law will, cost effectively, benefit those seriously ill individuals who are suffering on the fringe of survival. Laura's Law is a California state law that allows counties to pursue court-ordered outpatient treatment for people with serious mental illness. It has been praised by advocates who say it gives a new tool to family members of adults with severe untreated mental illness.
In California there is a lack of support services for families who attempt unsuccessfully to obtain help for a mentally ill family member. This can sometimes be due to limited county facilities or lack of decent housing, therefore countless chronically mentally ill patients bounce from the street to the jail to the hospital and back again, never getting better. They may go off medication, become dangerous, and revolve through the court and mental hospital doors. This is termed “the revolving door,” which does nothing to help these patients and incurs county costs for ER visits, law enforcement, jails and court time which is frustrating to all concerned.
Toni Wellen said, “I spoke with Laura’s parents, Amanda and Wilcox who are gratified with this welcomed news.” The Wilcoxes put their grief into action by going to Sacramento to help Laura’s Law pass in 2002 (AB 1421) They have continued their efforts for gun violence prevention as the Legislation & Policy Chairs of CA Brady Campaign Chapters.
Read local reporting regarding the passage of Laura’s Law