The Assembly Judiciary Committee voted unanimously last week (on Tuesday, April 10) to support AB 1569 to extend Laura’s Law. The vote followed testimony on the success of Nevada County’s Laura’s Law program from Nevada County Superior Court Judge Tom Anderson, Nevada County Behavioral Health Director Michael Heggarty. Nick Wilcox, Laura Wilcox’s father; and from Scott Thorpe’s family.
Laura’s Law is named for Laura Wilcox, who was murdered in Nevada City in 2001 by Scott Thorpe, a man whose schizophrenia went untreated despite his family’s best efforts. Laura’s Law 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 for living in the community. Nevada County’s Health and Human Services Agency Director, Jeff brown says implementing Laura’s Law has been effective and saved Nevada County money.
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Under the original Laura’s Law act, the program sunsets in 2013. AB 1569 would extend the law until 2017. AB 1569 now moves to the Assembly Appropriations Committee. Laura’s Law requires no new money from the state. 44 other states have implemented similar laws, but Nevada County is the only county in the state to so far implement Laura’s Law.