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Since We Last Spoke: Cracking Down on Crazy

New twists on past stories.

By Kate Wheeling


(Photo: Joe Toreno)

Editor’s Note: A version of this story first appeared on on May 24, 2016, with the headline “Is Court-Ordered Treatment What Santa Barbara’s Mentally Ill Population Needs?” This edited version was published in our September/October 2016 print issue.

Earlier this year for Pacific Standard, Jeneen Interlandi chronicled the controversy surrounding Laura’s Law in California — and the difficulties counties have faced in getting it implemented since it was passed in 2002 (“How Can We Treat the Seriously Mentally Ill Before Tragedy Occurs, Instead of After?” January/February 2016). The law gives judges the authority to compel treatment-resistant psychiatric patients to pursue outpatient mental health care. In June, county supervisors in Santa Barbara voted to fund a small Laura’s Law pilot program, in addition to expanding care, for 10 “frequent fliers” in Santa Barbara County’s mental health care system, the Santa Barbara Independent reported. At least 43 states have passed their own versions of Laura’s Law.