Starting next week, San Francisco will be the fifth county in the state to implement Laura’s Law, the measure that allows judges to force severely mentally ill people to get treatment.
The measure is targeted toward people who are resisting care and have a history of hospitalization, incarceration or violence. Family members, mental health providers or police officers can petition the court to compel patients into outpatient treatment, though patients cannot be forced to take medication.
The devil, of course, is in the details of how it’s regulated and enforced. But a history of hospitalization and incarceration does not mean, by itself, at risk for perpetrating violence. I see this law as spreading fear and stigma, the last thing the mental health community should want.