Public Comment

Final Response to Judi Iranyi on Laura's Law

By Jack Bragen
Thursday April 25, 2013 - 03:47:00 PM

Dear Judi,

I have read and understood much of the text of Laura's Law, as it appears on the California Legislature's website. How can you say it isn't about forcing people, when "involuntary treatment" appears at the heading? 

Although a separate court order is needed to force medication, the patient is already in the court system, making it convenient, in practice, to do one stop shopping. 

AB 1421 immediately involves the patient in the court system-and, in fact, a court determination can take place in the patient's absence. I am more disturbed by what AB 1421 doesn't say, however. It leaves far too much up to the discretion of those enforcing it. 

As we all know, a law, when put into practice, can turn out to be very different than people are led to expect at the time it is being promoted-for example, the notorious Proposition 13. My intent in arguing against the implementation of Laura's Law is to prevent the cruel, inhumane, or incompetent treatment of persons with mental illness. 

When someone receives forced treatment at their place of residence, it allows for a lot of things to happen, due to the absence of witnesses, as well as the absence of supervision by a qualified psychiatrist. The law calls for "multidisciplinary teams of highly trained mental health professionals," but doesn't specify what this means. Laura's Law lacks definitions. 

You said the law had "phenomenal results" and that it has saved money for Nevada County. I don't doubt that it has saved money since you are not paying for expensive psychiatrists and nurses. 

I agree that noncompliant, severely mentally ill people could benefit from treatment, but it needs to be done differently than in the provisions of Laura's Law. I have a problem with the involvement in the court system this law entails, and also with turning someone's home into a mental hospital. If you can't be safe in your home, where can you be?