Nevada County is the only county in the state to have fully implemented Laura’s Law in response to a legal settlement surrounding a woman’s murder by a severely mentally ill man. The law has been around for 8 years and is intended to get mentally ill people treatment, often on an involuntary basis. Many untreated mentally ill people are homeless and the law aims to get such patients off the street with treatment, especially if there is the potential for violence, which was the case in Nevada County for a college-aged woman the law is named after.
Orange County has discussed adopting the law, which would make it the first county to voluntary implement Laura’s Law, but the Orange County's Health Care Agency has already released a critical report on the ordinance. The Orange County Commission to End Homelessness by 2020 is studying the proposal and recently a panel discussion was held in Huntington Beach by the Behavioral Health Symposium sponsored by the California Hospital Association.
Among the speakers on the panel was John Anderson, the Superior Court judge in charge of Nevada County's program. Anderson is a supporter of the law and advocates that other counties should adopt it. The judge stated, “It's a very effective tool that has proven to save lives ... and save and ease a burden on service providers. And it saves tons of money." The Voice of OC reports the following on Anderson’s arguments:
“’We're a beta,’ Anderson said of the small county's groundbreaking work. Asked why large counties, including Orange, don't study the Nevada County experience as a pilot program, he replied, ‘It boggles me.’ Part of the reason, he suggested, for general opposition to Laura's Law by county health departments statewide is that the courts would hold them accountable for actually providing the treatment they promise. Some opponents of Laura's Law have cited conservatorships as a better alternative.”