What is Kevin's Law?

Q: What is Kevin's Law?

A: There are two pieces of legislation in the United States that have been referred to as "Kevin's Law" in the media.

First, there is the law in Michigan named after Kevin Heisinger who was beaten to death by a schizophrenia patient who had not been taking medication. To honor Mr. Heisinger's memory, his family and Sen. Tom George, R-Texas Township, and Sen. Virg Bernero, D-Lansing, worked to pass "Kevin's Law," which would permit court-ordered outpatient treatment for mentally ill people who are least able to help themselves or most likely to present a risk to others. At the beginning of the legislative process, both Sen. George and Sen. Bernero were in the Michigan House. Once they were in the Senate, they reintroduced the measure in 2003 as Senate Bills 683 - 686.

Kevin's Law in Michigan took effect in 2005. The law allows judges to order outpatient treatment for people with untreated severe mental illnesses who meet specific criteria. The package of four bills, referred to as the Assisted Outpatient Treatment Law, was signed by Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm.

Second, there is the Kevin's Law referred to in the 2008 documentary Food Inc. The law would have been formally known as the Meat and Poultry Pathogen Reduction and Enforcement Act of 2003. The bill was introduced by Rep. Anna G. Eshoo, D-Palo Atlo, as H.R. 3160.

Kevin's Law was named in memory of two-year-old Kevin Kowalcyk, who died in 2001 after eating a hamburger contaminated with E. coli O157:H7. The law would have given the U.S. Department of Agriculture the power to close down plants that produce contaminated meat.

The bill never became law.