NAMI Sacramento, Sacramento's Voice on Mental Illness

Laura's Law

AB 1421 was signed into state law in 2002 and became effective January 1, 2003. Known as Laura's Law, this statute allows court-ordered, intensive outpatient treatment for a small population of individuals who revolve in and out of jails, hospitals and homelessness. Typically, these individuals are too paranoid, too disabled, too sick or too insight-impaired to realize they are sick and engage in treatment. Laura's Law is named after a 19-year-old woman working at a Nevada County mental health clinic who was shot to death by a delusional patient who was not receiving the help he needed because he resisted treatment.

The treatment, called Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT), provides a tool that ensures continuity of care for some of the most difficult-to-treat people, who are traditionally neglected in favor of consumers who want treatment. This neglect is seen as a form of discrimination against people with the most severe illnesses. AOT allows intervention before an individual commits a crime that triggers an involuntary hospitalization or arrest, providing an alternative to hospitalization and incarceration.

The current law governing commitment, called the Lanterman-Petris-Short (LPS) Act, provides only for inpatient commitment and stipulates that individuals can be involuntarily hospitalized only if they pose an immediate danger to themselves or others or are judged by the court to be "gravely disabled," a legal term meaning they do not have the ability to care for themselves. The law gives physicians a 72-hour hold period to evaluate them in a locked facility and begin treatment. But this often results in a revolving door of recovery and relapse as no continued care is provided. In Sacramento County, 75% of the people with mental illness in our county jail have been in the County Mental Health Treatment Center before. 

Laura's Law is patterned after New York's Kendra's Law, which showed impressive results after five years. AOT significantly reduced the severest consequences for participants who formerly had rejected treatment.

  • 74% fewer people experienced homelessness
  • 77% fewer experienced psychiatric hospitalization
  • 83% fewer experienced arrest
  • 87% fewer experienced incarceration
  • 55% fewer attempted suicide or self-harm
  • 49% fewer abused alcohol
  • 48% fewer abused drugs
  • 47% fewer physicall harmed others
  • 43% fewer threatened other with physical harm
  • 46% fewer damaged or destroyed property

The state law does not mandate California counties to adopt Laura's Law, so each county can elect whether or not to adopt it. This decision will be made by the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors by early December. There is an urgent need for advocates to contact the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors.

For more information about Laura's Law, see the Treatment Advocacy Center.


Join the Email Campaign

If you would like to follow Laura's Law and join an email campaign to promote adoption, join the California Treatment Advocacy Coalition (CTAC).

To join, send an email to the Treatment Advocacy Center.

To receive future updates on
LPS Reform contact

For more information visit the CTAC website:

Laura's Law News

2/28/08: Help for the Mentally Ill — Pasadena Star

2/27/08: Nevada County First to Enforce Laura's Law — The Union

2/21/08: Care, Not Excuses — San Francisco Chronicle


NAMI Sacramento cannot be held responsible for the use of the information we provide.
Please always consult a trained mental health professional before making any decision
regarding treatment of yourself or others.