Orange County could become the first large California county to adopt Laura’s Law, which allows court-ordered outpatient treatment of severely mentally ill adults.

An estimated 120 adults might qualify for the mandatory treatment, according to county officials. The program, which largely relies on state mental health taxes, would cost about $4.4 million a year. Another roughly $1 million would come from the county’s general fund to cover expenses of the courts and public defender’s office.

California enacted Laura’s Law in 2002, but left it up to each county to put it into effect. No large county did, in part because opponents argued state funds couldn’t be used to support it. But clarifying legislation enacted last year with support from Orange County supervisors made it clear that state mental health funds could be spent.

Laura’s Law, named for Nevada County teen Laura Wilcox, who was murdered by a severely mentally ill man, became an issue in Orange County in the summer of 2011, following the death of mentally ill transient Kelly Thomas. He was beaten to death by Fullerton police officers. Three of the officers were fired, and a jury this year ruled two of the officers didn’t commit a crime in connection with his death.

Tuesday’s supervisors meeting starts at 9:30 a.m. Click here for the item’s staff report and documents.

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