San Francisco Adopts Laura's Law by a 9-2 Vote

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Becomes Second Large County in Three Months to Authorize, Treatment Advocacy Center Calls the Vote a “Watershed”

San Francisco supervisors voted to implement Laura’s Law Tuesday¹, making it the second large California county in three months to authorize court-ordered outpatient treatment for at-risk individuals with serious mental illness who meet the state’s strict criteria.

Doris A. Fuller, executive director of the Treatment Advocacy Center, called the vote a “watershed.”

“San Francisco is famously one of California’s most liberal counties, just as Orange County is historically one of the most conservative,” she said. “The fact that both counties have adopted Laura’s Law in the span of three months speaks volumes about the desperate need – and nonpartisan support – for expanded access to treatment for California’s most vulnerable population.”

The law is named after Laura Wilcox, a university student who was shot to death while she was volunteering in a mental health clinic by a man with untreated schizophrenia. The law was passed to provide a pathway to recovery for the individuals most at risk for violence, incarceration, homelessness and other ills because they struggle to stay in treatment.

“Laura’s Law will give San Francisco a critical lifeline for patients who refuse treatment and end up on the streets, a risk to themselves or others, in jail or worse,” Fuller said.

San Francisco voters overwhelmingly supported implementation of Laura’s Law, with polls finding more than 70% of the population in support. NAMI California and numerous public leaders – San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, District Attorney George Gascón, City Attorney Dennis Herrera, Public Health Department Chief Barbara Garcia, Police Chief Greg Suhr, Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White and the police and firefighters' unions – also endorsed implementation.

Even though San Francisco will make five counties using the law, families in the state’s other 53 counties that have not yet implemented the law remain virtually powerless to help their loved ones and communities escape the consequences of untreated severe mental illness.


The Treatment Advocacy Center is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating barriers to the timely and effective treatment of severe mental illness. The nonprofit promotes laws, policies and practices for the delivery of psychiatric care and supports the development of innovative treatments for and research into the causes of severe and persistent psychiatric illnesses, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

The organization does not accept funding from the pharmaceutical industry. The American Psychiatric Association awarded the Treatment Advocacy Center its 2006 presidential commendation for "sustained extraordinary advocacy on behalf of the most vulnerable mentally ill patients who lack the insight to seek and continue effective care and benefit from assisted outpatient treatment.”

¹California Welfare and Institutions Code, sections 5345-5349.5 ("Laura's Law")

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Jamie Mondics
Treatment Advocacy Center
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