OXNARD, Calif. – The Ventura County Behavioral Health Department has received a $4 million grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to help fund the Laura’s Law program that was approved by the Board of Supervisors in March.
Laura’s Law is named after Laura Wilcox, a 19-year-old woman who was shot to death with two other people by a mentally ill man in 2001. The law was enacted in 2002 without a funding source. The law gives judges the authority to order outpatient treatment to people who have refused treatment, whose condition is deteriorating and who have a history of violent acts or involuntary hospitalizations. A clinical opinion is required as well.
Prior to receiving the federal grant, the County would have been able to serve about 20 people. With it, about 60 people will be able to receive court-ordered treatment for the mentally ill.
The program is scheduled to start in January 2017, and the grant will provide $1 million per year for the next four years. The grant funds will help pay for a registered nurse and case managers. It will also cover a portion of the salaries for a judge, public defender, civil law clerk and other positions.