Written by: Supervisor Sue Frost
This summer the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors will have a big decision to make regarding whether or not to implement “Laura’s Law.” I want to take this opportunity in my monthly article to explain to you what this law is, why this is coming before the Board of Supervisors, and why it is such a big deal.
Laura’s Law is named for 19-year-old Laura Wilcox, who was a college student working in a Nevada County mental-health clinic in 2001, when she and two others were shot and killed by a man with untreated severe mental illness. After the incident Laura’s parents chose to advocate for assisted outpatient treatment (AOT) for individuals who meet strict legal criteria and who, as a result of their mental illness, are unable to voluntarily access community mental health services.
Since then, California counties have the option to “opt in” to the program, and that has been done so far in most of the larger counties. To date, Sacramento County has been one of the few larger counties who has not opted in and has never held a public hearing at the Board of Supervisors regarding whether or not to implement the program.
This process changed however with the passage last year of AB 1976, which requires counties like Sacramento to hold public hearings at the Board of Supervisors about whether we will “opt in” or “opt out”, and if we choose to “opt out” we have to provide specific reasons for this to the State. The deadline for Sacramento County to have this hearing and formally decide will be July 1st of this year.
Earlier this month a mentally ill homeless man assaulted a child on Freeport Blvd. in Sacramento, only to be released back into the public in less than 24 hours – and this was after he had been captured and released previously for assault and battery of another woman. As a former emergency room nurse, I understand firsthand that there are people living in our community who cannot take care of themselves, and they desperately need help.
People like this should be able to get help before more crimes are perpetuated in our communities – it’s the compassionate and safe way to move forward. I do not know how I will vote on this issue when it comes before me as I want to have an open ear to both sides as well as be able to fully comprehend the fiscal impacts, but I do know this is a growing problem and we should be handling this problem better than we are right now.
Thank you for reading – and as always, if you want to contact me, call me at 916-874-5491, or e-mail me at SupervisorFrost@saccounty.net.
Sue Frost represents the 4th District, which includes all or part of the communities of Citrus Heights, Folsom, Orangevale, Antelope, Rio Linda, Elverta, Gold River, Rancho Murieta, North Highlands, Carmichael, Foothill Farms, and Fair Oaks