With thousands of homeless people on the streets, San Jose City Council members Johnny Khamis and Raul Peralez are urging local leaders to implement Laura’s Law. Enacted by the state in 2002, the law gives counties the ability to mandate treatment for the severely mentally ill—many of whom are unhoused.
To date, 20 California counties have adopted the law, including San Mateo, Alameda, Contra Costa and Marin counties. At its Dec. 17 meeting, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors will consider joining that list, and Khamis and Peralez want to make sure that they have the San Jose’s support in advance.
“Laura’s Law and expanding the framework for conservatorship will open up more opportunities for helping the most vulnerable who struggle with mental illness and alcohol/drug addictions,” the pair of council members wrote in a shared memo. “While we know this solution will help a smaller number of individuals who are homeless, it will help to make our community safer for our residents and for the police officers working in our neighborhoods.”
On Tuesday afternoon this week, the council will discuss whether it should author a letter to county supervisors offering up its endorsement.
Khamis and Peralez argue that it will not only help the county’s mentally ill and drug-addicted population, but will also make things safer for police. Under Laura’s Law, people can only be placed in outpatient treatment if they meet a list of “exhaustive conditions,” such as being hospitalized or jailed twice within the last 36 months.
“When police officers find themselves using deadly force to stop a dangerous individual with severe mental illness, it is not acceptable to write it off as a situation that could not be avoided,” Khamis and Peralez wrote in their proposal. “When these events occur, stories abound from families struggling over many years to get help for their loved one under the current mental health system.”
The San Jose City Council meets at 11am Tuesday inside the council chambers at City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St. in San Jose. Click here to read the entire agenda.