Assemblymember Marie Waldron
Assisted Outpatient Treatment is one of the most effective tools available for treating severely mentally ill persons. Legislation known as Laura’s Law was introduced in 2001 to make AOT available for persons who meet specified criteria for involuntary commitment, such as presenting a danger to themselves or others, or who are gravely disabled. My subsequent legislation, AB 59, extended the sunset date of Laura’s Law, and a majority of California’s 58 counties are now participating.
This year I will be joining Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman (D – Stockton) to co-author Senate Bill 1035 which authorizes courts to inquire about the treatment progress of persons receiving AOT. Individuals who have recently left 5150 holds (involuntary 72 hour psychiatric hospitalization) or left conservatorships will benefit from a continuum of care that ensures medication compliance, essential for their recovery. Hopefully, the result will be long-term stabilization for these individuals.
SB 1035 requires the director of outpatient treatment to report to the court every 60 days on the status of persons subject to court ordered AOT and allows courts to conduct status hearings and require reporting on treatment and adherence to the prescribed medications.
The bill is supported by the Psychiatric Physicians Alliance of California, the California State Association of Psychiatrists, the Steinberg Institute, which is a leader in mental health advocacy, and others. SB 1035 passed the Senate without opposition in May, and last week it passed the Assembly Health Committee, on which I sit, also without opposition.
Making AOT more available and effective will get people off the streets, reduce crime and substance abuse, and most importantly, it will save lives. As your state representative, I will continue to work on bipartisan solutions that address serious mental health and public safety issues that impact all Californians.