Laura’s Law is a California state law that allows for court-ordered assisted outpatient treatment. To qualify for the program, the person must have a serious mental illness plus a recent history of psychiatric hospitalizations, jailings or acts, threats or attempts of serious violent behavior towards [self] or others.
Please read the following report by Jo Lambert…
We have a broken mental health system
By Jo Lambert
I did not realize how terribly broken until our sister Elizabeth was plagued with schizophrenia and bipolar disorders.
On August 5,1983 a beautiful, intelligent, fun, generous, and full of life baby girl was born. Elizabeth received a Bachelor’s degree with a goal of receiving a Master’s degree in special education. Elizabeth worked two jobs one with severely handicapped children at Beyer and the other tutoring children both giving her high praises in her evaluations.
It was in 2012 when life for Elizabeth began to go from bad to gravely disabled. The summer of 2012 our sister, Elizabeth, had multiple 72 hour holds, and in the coming years countless emergency room visits and criminal charges in Stanislaus County and as well as a criminal charge in Nevada County.
Our sister would be discharged with antipsychotic medications and instructions to follow up with her physician which like others she did not. She would be discharged with prescriptions for antipsychotic meds in which the dose would be too high that in one instance left her drooling then to only stop the medication abruptly. It is extremely dangerous to our mentally ill to be given antipsychotic medication to only take for 72 hours or a short time once released.
One summer day Elizabeth was experiencing severe hallucinations which led her to shooting a gun in our family home to defend our mother from an imaginary attacker. Elizabeth threatened to kill her daughter while holding scissors in her hands in response to being asking if she wanted a sandwich. It was this threat that drew the line in the sand that our family could not allow her into the home thus leaving her homeless.
My mother would be approached by many people on multiply occasions begging that something be done about Elizabeth. The word on the street was someone wanted to cause Elizabeth grave harm for the simple reason “she was crazy.” During her pregnancy, she tried to commit suicide and homicide to kill herself and her unborn son.
Elizabeth stated to the police officer that her baby was evil and had evil blood running through it. Elizabeth, was NOT given a 72 hour hold and was released almost immediately. It was after the delivery of Elizabeth’s son in Nov 2014 that she became gravely ill.
Elizabeth would not shower, did not wear any protection during her menstruation thus having blood flow freely onto her clothes, Elizabeth was raped, she continued to hallucinate and talk to herself, defecated on people’s lawns, and Elizabeth did not seek proper medical care for her mental or physical being.
Our sister had her tooth broken during an altercation with an officer which resulted in a resisting arrest charge. Our sister was not put on an alert list of having mental illness according to the county conservatorship department, the deputy of mental health at the county jail, and the police department despite her behavior, despite the diagnosis given to her by the behavioral center, despite talking to the watch commander, and despite all the faxes I sent to the DA, PD, and probation department.
It was in trying to find help that I learned of Laura’s Law. Luckily, during her time in Nevada County jail she received proper mental health. Sadly, because Stanislaus County didn’t not carry Laura’s Law there would not be any continuation of care and she died 2 months after her release from jail and just 3 weeks shy of her son’s 1st birthday. Our sister, Elizabeth, didn’t think anything was wrong with her but I ask you if your sister or daughter were walking around with menstrual blood caked onto their clothing, was raped, defecating on the lawn wouldn’t you want to have dignity restored to her or would you want to continue to have your sister or daughter live that way?
Laura’s Law isn’t the solution for everyone but it has great results in counties that have implemented it such as Nevada County which restored our sister, Elizabeth, to a state of mental health our family hadn’t seen in absolute years.
If you don’t want to do it for the dignity of the person then do it because studies have shown with Laura’s Law there is a tremendous cost savings to the county from reduced incarcerations and hospitalizations. My family and I are asking for your support of Laura’s Law to help restore the dignity of the mentally ill and bring peace to families in memory of our sister, Elizabeth.