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LA County Approves Full Implementation Of Laura's Law To Address Treatment Of Mentally Ill

LOS ANGELES ( — Los Angeles County adopted a law Tuesday allowing court-ordered treatment for the mentally ill.

CBS2's Cristy Fajardo reports the county Board of Supervisors voted 4-0 to fully implement Laura's Law, which allows families and counties to get court-ordered outpatient treatment for the seriously mentally ill.

The county implemented a smaller voluntary version of the state law after it passed in 2001.

Tuesday's vote adds additional funding and expands the Department of Mental Health's treatment program and community outreach.

Patricia Russell, whose son suffers from bipolar disorder, applauds the supervisor's decision.

She hopes Laura's Law will help end the vicious cycle that results when her son gets in trouble while off his medication.

"If Laura's Law had been in effect years ago, it would have mandated that he get treatment. He doesn't think he is sick," Russell said. "He gets manic, and then the drugs. ... God, it's terrible."

Critics, however, argue the law infringes on the rights of the people it means to help and say voluntary treatment is more effective than court-ordered therapy.

Supervisor Gloria Molina, who voted to implement the law, also expressed concerns about balancing civil rights and helping patients.

But Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey hopes the vote will help keep the mentally ill out of jail.

"It will give families a chance to get loved ones who are mentally ill help using the court system before they get in a state where they end up having to call the police," Lacey said.

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