Lauras Law proposes Bad Public Policy, Ineffective Treatment sign now

The undersigned programs, organizations, and local consortiums all oppose involuntary treatment and oppose the implementation of Assisted Outpatient Treatment as described in AB 1421 and the California Welfare and Institutions Code sections commonly called Lauras Law.

We cant afford Lauras Law
Proponents have stated that Santa Barbara County can use Measure S dollars to fund Lauras Law. Measure S mental health dollars where meant for programs to reduce recidivism at the jails amongst a criminal population and is time limited. Lauras Law targets people who already have received voluntary mental health treatments, few Jail inmates would qualify for Lauras Law. Measure S mental health dollars would be better spent on voluntary mental health services provided to inmates in Jail. MHSA funds can be used for voluntary programs in or out of jail. There are no unspent MHSA funds in Santa Barbara County, and adopting Lauras Law here will not and cannot increase the MHSA allocation to Santa Barbara. To access MHSA funds in Santa Barbara, Lauras Law would have to take money from voluntary services. This is illegal.
The only other place to take money from within the Countys existing budget would be involuntary services. The proposed resolution does not suggest which involuntary services should be defunded in order to fund Lauras Law.
Voluntary treatment should be available for the people who might be forced into institutional or out-patient treatment under Lauras Law: Funding should be allocated to those services. But these services can be provided without court intervention. When the courts are already beyond capacity, its hard to justify this new expenditure on a program that wont work.
The added costs are significant. County mental health department, local hospitals, local police and sheriff departments, and superior court must have sufficient resources to administer the expanded forced treatment program (e.g., investigation of requests for petitions; court-ordered evaluations; court-ordered hospitalization; court-ordered police or sheriff department detention for evaluation; contempt of court orders; court monitoring of 60-day affidavits of need for AOT program; court review of requests to modify a treatment plan or settlement agreement.
Involuntary treatment does not increase public safety
The MacArthur Community Violence Studythe universally respected research work on this topicconcludes: The prevalence of violence among people who have been discharged from a psychiatric hospital and who do not have symptoms of substance abuse is about the same as the prevalence of violence among other people living in their communities who do not have symptoms of substance abuse.

Involuntary treatment doesnt work
Mental health professionals are in agreement that effective services require collaboration between the service consumer and the provider.
Studies that have compared groups in voluntary care with others in involuntary care, where both groups received enhanced services, show no difference at all in outcomes. In fact, the state-commission review of Kendras Law in New Yorka program similar to Lauras Law, but with added servicesfound that no benefits could be attributed to court involvement, but that the services themselves definitely did result from increased services. Bottom line, people who get more and better treatment do better (no surprise here!).
Forced treatment is unethical
People with mental illnesses are a disabled population and should have all the protections afforded any competent citizen in terms of their right to choose care. Involuntary care can only occur after a person has been proven to be incompetent as part of due process.
Lauras Law will increase racial inequality
Proponents of Lauras Law frequently state that they want it used like New Yorks Kendras Law. In New York State, Black people are close to 5 times as likely than White people to be subjected to Kendras Law; Hispanic people 2 times as likely.
We cannot legally implement Lauras Law
Lauras Law requires that we have adequate voluntary mental health services for those who are seeking them. In Santa Barbara, with waitlists at every out-patient facility, this is simply not the case.
We have solutions: Voluntary treatment works
In Mental Health Services Act Full Service Partnerships (FSPs), homelessness among participants decreases between 60 and 100\%, depending on the age group and the county.
FSPs decrease hospitalization between 88 and 100\% among all age groups.
FSPs reduce incarceration rates between 87 and 99\%. Kern County reports that FSPs have reduced recidivism by 34\%, when compared with the population at large.
If there are unspent dollars in the system, then Santa Barbara needs more direct services at street level, but we do not need more bureaucracy and regulations in an already overstressed system. Thanks to mid-year cuts over the past few County budgets, there is currently a waitlist for every out-patient program in the County. For example, AORRS Outpatient Clinic has a two-month waiting list. When it opened, there was no waiting list. We need to save every dollar for sound, well-placed direct services for all Santa Barbara County residence.

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Joann CainBy:
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Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors


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