Arlington, VA April 3, 2012 - This past Saturday, Nevada County Superior Court Presiding Judge Tom Anderson spoke at the invitation of the National Board of Directors of the Treatment Advocacy Coalition (TAC). The TAC is interested in the national significance of Nevada County's implementation of Laura's Law. Laura's Law is named for Laura Wilcox, who was murdered in Nevada City in 2001 by a man with severe mental illness. It is a process that allows courts to compel individuals with severe mental illness and a history of arrest or violence to stay in treatment as a condition of living in the community.
"Laura's Law keeps everyone safer—the public, patients, as well as law enforcement officers—by empowering family, case workers and law enforcement to provide treatment before a violent crime is committed," Judge Anderson told the TAC.
The TAC showed particular interest in how Nevada County's court procedures are used in implementing Laura's Law. These procedures have reduced forced hospitalization by 61%, incarceration of individuals with severe mental illness by 91%. According to Behavioral Health Director Michael Haggerty, these reductions have saved Nevada County $1.81 for every $1 invested in Laura's Law.
Despite Nevada County's success, it is the only county in the state to have fully implemented Laura's Law.
"Nevada County, with Judge Anderson's leadership, has helped improve safety and health for people throughout California with their model implementation of Laura's Law", said Carla Jacobs of Tustin, Calif., a member of the TAC Board of Directors who was present at the Judge's address.
The TAC reports that programs like Laura's Law are effective in cutting the incidence and duration of hospitalizations, homelessness, arrests, victimization and violent episodes.
The TAC is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating barriers to the timely and effective treatment of severe mental illness. The organization promotes laws, policies and practices for the delivery of psychiatric care, including advocating for Laura's Law and similar laws around the country. As a nonprofit organization, the TAC does not support or oppose candidates for election.
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