Yee Supports Steinberg Mental Health Proposal, Urges Counties to Implement Laura's Law

December 20, 2012

New website provides easy access to local mental health services

SACRAMENTO – In the aftermath of the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) today urged support for President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg’s (D-Sacramento) proposal to enhance mental health services across the county and called on counties throughout the state to implement Laura’s law – the statute that allows counties to enforce Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) orders for some potentially dangerous mentally ill patients.

Steinberg is calling on the federal government to adopt California’s Mental Health Services Act as a model for the nation and is asking the federal government to adopt a dollar-for-dollar match of funding for states willing to use their resources to build effective mental health systems.

“While we should not draw direct correlations between mental illness and all acts of violence, both mental health treatment and reasonable gun control should be part of a comprehensive response to protect children and families,” said Yee. “I strongly support Senator Steinberg’s proposal to help fund prevention and intervention services and I urge counties throughout California to finally implement Laura’s Law.”

Laura's Law, which Yee helped initiate a decade ago as a member of the State Assembly, allows counties to assure that court-ordered help reaches people who are not complying with voluntary treatment programs, have a history of hospitalization, arrest or violent behavior and are potentially dangerous to themselves or others.

Many counties have failed to implement Laura's Law despite that fact that the policy has proven to result in less hospitalization, less homelessness, fewer arrests, less incarceration, increased collaboration between the mental health and justice systems, as well as a more efficient and effective cross-agency delivery system.

Laura’s Law is named for Laura Wilcox, a 19-year old high school valedictorian, who was shot to death at a Nevada County mental health clinic in 2001 by a man suffering from paranoid schizophrenia who consistently refused treatment.

Yee has also introduced SB 47 to prohibit semi-automatic weapons like AR-15s and AK-47s from having devices known as “bullet buttons” and “mag magnets,” which allow the gun to be easily reloaded with multiple rounds of ammunition. SB 47 will also prohibit add-on kits that allow high-capacity magazines.

Yee has also announced plans for legislation that will require more consistent registration and background checks for gun ownership and another bill that will toughen safety requirements.

Along with his Senate colleagues, today Yee also announced a new website that provides a centralized resource for critical and local mental health services. Residents can access the site by visiting www.senate.ca.gov/yee.

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Contact: Adam J. Keigwin,
(916) 651-4008