The California Psychiatric Association announced that it has named Assemblymember Michael Allen, a former psychiatric nurse, as its state legislator of the year for 2012, according to a release from Allen's office.
The CPA is a state level nonprofit whose member psychiatrists are medical doctors specializing in comprehensive care of individuals with mental and emotional disorders that stem from biological and psychosocial causes.
The organization chose to honor Allen for his work on mental health issues, including Assembly Bill 1569, legislation to extend “Laura’s Law” in California. "Laura's Law" permits counties to provide court-ordered outpatient treatment services for people with serious mental illnesses when a court finds that a person's recent history of hospitalizations or violent behavior, coupled with noncompliance with voluntary treatment, indicate the person is likely to become dangerous or gravely disabled without the court-ordered outpatient treatment.
The law, which first went into effect in January 2003, was named for Laura Wilcox, a 19-year-old college student who was gunned down by Scott Harlan Thorpe in a Nevada City public mental-health clinic in 2001. The 41-year-old Thorpe had a long history of mental illness and had been in and out of treatment repeatedly—including at the very clinic where Laura Wilcox had been working. At the time he walked into the clinic and opened fire, killing both Laura and another clinic employee, he was clearly past the point where outpatient treatment was an option.
Allen, a former psychiatric registered nurse, is chairman of the Assembly Select Committee on State Hospital Safety.
“In his role as chair of the select committee, Assemblymember Allen has worked tirelessly to improve safety and the quality of care at California’s state hospitals,” said Randall Hagar, the psychiatry association’s director of governmental affairs.
“He has introduced state hospital legislation to set minimum staffing ratios, require safety plans, and more effectively control contraband items,” Hagar added. “California psychiatrists know they can expect continued leadership from Mr. Allen on mental health-related issues.”