San Francisco Fails To Take Action on Mental Health Law
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom (D) "continues to drop the ball" on enforcement of a law that would require outpatient treatment for patients with severe mental illnesses who pose a danger to themselves or others, a San Francisco Chronicle editorial states.
The law, called "Laura's Law," took effect in 2003 but has only been implemented in Los Angeles county, the editorial states.
Mitch Katz, director of San Francisco's Department of Health, on Tuesday said he supports the law but thinks the city's resources are better spent on voluntary treatment programs.
Sen. Leeland Yee (D-San Francisco), author of the "Laura's Law" extension last year, said he intended for the law to be used sparingly in cases where compulsory treatment could be life saving. He added that it was "horrible" for a city to "summarily take away a mental health option" from professionals.
The editorial notes that Newsom's "budget further narrows its mental health treatment options with the planned cutback of 14 acute-care beds -- critics say it will be closer to 21-- at San Francisco General Hospital." A Board of Supervisors committee on Wednesday is scheduled to review the acute care budget cut.
"Meanwhile, 'Laura's Law' remains on the state's books, untouched in San Francisco, a casualty of political expedience," the editorial states, concluding, "No one is claiming that it's not needed, or that it might not save a life in some rare but dire circumstances" (San Francisco Chronicle, 10/10).