A Woodbridge couple, Tasso and Gertie Kandris, are devoted members of the San Joaquin County Mental Health and Substance Abuse board. Gertie Kandris says that Adam Lamza, suspected of the Sandy Hook murders, fell through the cracks when it comes to getting mental health treatment.
Had he been treated, Kandris believes the 26 people murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School would have been safe.
"When a person is mentally ill, they are not evil; it is an illness," she said. "Instead, these people are being criminalized. They're almost poster children crying out for help."
People with mental health issues usually act out between the ages of 18 and 25, Kandris said.
"The mentally ill person doesn't think anything is wrong with them," Kandris said. "You can't persuade them."
San Joaquin County is trying to adopt Laura's Law, which went into effect in Nevada County. Laura's Law allows courts to order outpatient treatment for mentally ill people who have been jailed or hospitalized because of their condition.
The California law applies only to those most likely to become dangerous to themselves or others because they're so ill they don't recognize that they need treatment, according to a Nevada County Grand Jury report.
The law is named after Laura Wilcox, a 19-year-old woman who worked at the Nevada County mental health clinic in 2001. She and two others were shot to death that year.
"It doesn't cost half as much to treat someone on the outside as it does on the inside (in prison)," Kandris said.
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at firstname.lastname@example.org.