SF considers adopting law to compel some mentally ill persons to receive treatment 

An effort to enact Laura's Law in San Francisco has re-emerged as a way to reduce the number of homeless people on city streets by compelling certain mentally ill people to receive treatment.

Supervisor Mark Farrell introduced a proposal Tuesday to implement the law locally, with support of Mayor Ed Lee. Laura's Law, a state law otherwise known as the assisted outpatient treatment law, allows court-ordered mental health treatment for individuals with mental illness with a history of unsuccessful treatment. Those authorized to request a court order include family members and probation officers.

If the Board of Supervisors doesn't approve the legislation, Farrell said he would place the measure on the November ballot, which would require the backing of three other board members.

"Laura's Law will provide appropriate treatment services for our most vulnerable, reduce hospitalization and incarceration rates, and improve public safety for our residents," Farrell said.

But San Francisco Homeless Coalition Executive Director Jennifer Friedenbach was not convinced, saying, "Instead of a magic bullet, Laura's Law is a delusional bullet for San Francisco. Our severely underfunded mental health system needs expanding instead of wasting public monies on an expensive court system runaround."

According to Lee, Laura's Law would allow The City to better help the many people dealing with serious mental health issues like schizophrenia.

"We need to do more, and change how we help those who are clearly suffering, and who cannot help themselves," Lee said.

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