Wednesday, August 20, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Supervisors OK Laura’s Law pilot program

By
From page A1 | June 26, 2013 |

Yolo County supervisors unanimously approved a pilot program Tuesday allowing for court-ordered involuntary outpatient treatment for certain individuals with serious mental illnesses.

The one-year pilot program implements Laura’s Law, a measure passed by the state in 2003 in the wake of a killing spree by a Nevada County man with a long history of mental illness who had resisted treatment.

The law allows a court to order involuntary outpatient treatment (also known as assisted outpatient treatment) for individuals with serious mental illnesses who have a recent history of hospitalization or violent behavior, as well as non-compliance with a voluntary treatment plan indicating a likelihood of becoming dangerous to themselves or others.

In the 10 years since Laura’s Law was passed, only Nevada County has fully implemented the law, but on Tuesday, Yolo County supervisors committed $100,000 to a pilot program that would create four slots for assisted outpatient treatment in the county’s existing community treatment program for seriously mentally ill residents.

The board’s vote followed several months of community outreach and public meetings which managed to bring many of those previously skeptical about Laura’s Law into support. They included Bob Schelen, chair of the Yolo County Mental Health Board, and Yolo County Public Defender Tracie Olson.

Supervisor Don Saylor of Davis, who helped lead efforts to craft a pilot program, noted the absence of any opposition at Tuesday’s board meeting as evidence of how well the program was crafted and presented to community members, including mental health services consumers.

“It’s a small wonder that we don’t have six or seven people who are upset in the board of supervisors’ (chambers),” said Saylor, who added that, “If we had moved more quickly, without the leadership, we’d be in a different place.”

Even those supervisors who originally had reservations about involuntary mental health treatment said they were comfortable with the pilot program as it was structured.

Supervisor Jim Provenza of Davis did request that the Department of Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health provide four reports to the board over the course of the yearlong pilot program.

In order for an individual to be placed in involuntary treatment, a request would have to be made to the county’s mental health director by the person’s spouse, parent, sibling, adult child or roommate, or a treating doctor or peace officer. The county then would investigate and choose whether to file a petition with the court for assisted outpatient treatment.

Nevada County’s program director, Carol Stanchfield, explained to supervisors Tuesday that any subsequent court proceedings are neither punitive nor coercive.

“When we do go to court,” she said, “the judge says, ‘You have done nothing wrong. This is not a criminal court. You are here because people are concerned.’

“And there begins the dialogue,” Stanchfield said. “We discuss the pros and cons of what they are able to do. What they are willing to do to go along with the treatment … There is no violation for not following your treatment plan, for not taking medication, but there is dialogue. What were the barriers? How can we mitigate that for you?”

Without assisted outpatient treatment, she said, these individuals are simply part of a revolving door system, where they decompensate to the point where they are hospitalized or jailed, then are released, stop taking any medication they were on, and decompensate again.

“There are times when folks do not understand their own illness … and do not see how that illness is impacting their behaviors and their stability,” said Kim Suderman, director of alcohol, drug and mental health for Yolo County. “Many times, when someone is encouraged to participate (in treatment), that is enough incentive to give it a shot.”

For others, she said, a court order is enough.

“It is for the health of the individual, the safety of the individual and the safety of the community,” she said in urging supervisors to support the pilot program.

“We don’t very often get to be as proactive as this,” Suderman added.

Schelen, who chairs the county’s mental health board, told supervisors that a number of board members started out skeptical about Laura’s Law, concerned about the idea of involuntary treatment and of people who may not want or even need treatment being forced into it.

“That was a concern of consumers and others represented on the board,” Schelen said Tuesday.

However, he said, they came away from Nevada County’s presentations “impressed that it is not an adversarial relationship.”

“Their efforts are to develop a familiar relationship … an ongoing relationship, and they have been successful,” he said.

Though he ended up voting in favor of the pilot program, Provenza did voice a note of caution going forward.

“It’s a pretty awesome authority to be able to order treatment,” he said. “We have to make sure we do this correctly. I’m going to vote for it but that’s why I’m asking for this to come back (before the board) four times … we have to tread very carefully.”

— Reach Anne Ternus-Bellamy at aternus@davisenterprise.net or 530-747-8051. Follow her on Twitter at @ATernusBellamy

Comments

comments

Anne Ternus-Bellamy

.

News

Summer jobs aren’t always in the bag

By Spencer Ault | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Davis Arts Center gets a new look, thanks to Brooks

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A1 | Gallery

More details emerge in Woodland officer shootings

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Report details the face of hunger in Yolo County

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Bob Dunning: Taking on a Specktacular challenge

By Bob Dunning | From Page: A2 | Gallery

For the record

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

 
Students can practice safe bike routes to junior highs

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

‘Monsters University’ to be screened in Central Park

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
California regulators approve PG&E rate hike

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

America’s ‘it’ school? Look west, Harvard

By New York Times News Service | From Page: B3

 
School board preps for new academic year

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A3

The big moveout, on ‘Davisville’

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Sunder campaign will be at Farmers Market

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Classic car show slated in Woodland

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Public opinion sought about Nishi Gateway

By Lily Holmes | From Page: A4

 
Davis Art Garage honored; bench dedication set

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8 | Gallery

Woodland historical award winners announced

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

 
.

Forum

Can’t understand this change

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
Delta-friendly water bond is a win for all of California

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

Bravo! The road diet works

By Rich Rifkin | From Page: A6

 
Support water bond in November

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

Relay for Life team says thanks

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

.

Sports

Hard hoops schedule features defending national champs at UCD

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Crisp’s big hit helps A’s

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Aggie QB is back to pass … Touchdown, Tina! Tina?

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Sacramento scores early to snap skid

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8

 
Unplayable? Cubs, rain hand Giants a loss

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

UCD roundup: Aggie gymnasts are awesome at academics

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
.

Features

Food that travels well for cooking out

By Julie Cross | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
.

Arts

 
Visit Crawfish and Catfish Festival in Woodland

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

Artists invited to paint at Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7 | Gallery

 
Goldberg, Milstein to play at Village Homes

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7 | Gallery

The voice on the CD comes alive at Music Together concert

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

 
Crowd funding campaign offers support for Art Theater of Davis

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

 
.

Business

.

Obituaries

Railroad museum will host Aberbach memorial

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Comics: Wednesday, August 20, 2014

By Creator | From Page: B6