The Florida Baker Act has historically caused prolonged trauma in children who have been removed from school for involuntary psychological evaluation without their guardian’s knowledge.
Recent amendments to the Florida Baker Act give parents and guardians the ability to intervene before a child is involuntarily admitted to a mental hospital for evaluation.
While changes in the law offer better protection for children, Florida attorney Justin Drach says there is still much work to be done.
By building relationships with school staff, they know who to turn to with your child in an emergency. …[T]hey will contact you first. “
– Justin Drach, lawyer
CLEARWATER, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES, July 27, 2021 /EINPresswire.com/ – “In a lawsuit we’re fighting, the people at the facility are violently beating the client,” said Justin Drach, a Baker Act criminal attorney Florida Cases and Personal Injury Law. “They do it by going where the cameras aren’t. They do it outside of the camera’s view. “
The Florida Mental Health Act of 1971, colloquially known as the “Baker Act,” after Maxine Baker of Miami who sponsored the law, allows doctors, psychiatrists, judges, and law enforcement agencies to post anyone who, as a result, poses a threat to themselves or others considered having a mental illness for an involuntary psychiatric examination in a mental health facility. There they can be held against their will for up to 72 hours.
The Baker Act is “available to protect the citizens of Florida,” says Drach. “But if you take insurance fraud and a lack of understanding into account [of the law] there you will be abused. ”Also consider human rights violations against people detained in mental hospitals. “Some of our customers were violently beaten in these facilities,” says Drach. “It really is really terrible.”
When it comes to children, abuse of the Baker Act law is rampant. Children under the age of 6 who had been labeled a “threat to themselves or others” by a teacher because of a tantrum at school were handcuffed by law enforcement and placed in the backseat of a police car in front of their peers at a reception facility Backer Act escorted. In many cases, the parents or legal guardians responsible for the best interests of the child were not contacted until the child had already left the campus in police custody.
A new bill, titled “School Safety,” enacted last month by Governor Ron DeSantis contains amendments to the Baker Act aimed to change that. The law now states that “a reasonable attempt must be made to notify a student’s parent, guardian, or caregiver” before removing the student from “school, school transport, or any school sponsored activity that is involuntary Stay in a facility is “removed is investigation.”
Some child rights attorneys, like the Dawn Steward of the Florida Parent Teacher Association’s Legislative Committee, had hoped for stronger wording requiring contact with a guardian before a child is taken out of school.
However, the new wording is stronger than previous versions of the law. It now means that the school principal or his representative “must use available communication channels to make contact”. [the child’s guardian], including but not limited to phone calls, text messages, emails, and voicemail messages following the decision to initiate a Baker Act for the child. The headmaster must also “[d]Document the method and number of attempts to contact the student [guardian] and the result of every attempt. “
The bill was passed unanimously in the Florida House of Representatives, with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle congratulating each other on advances in protecting children from an often traumatic experience.
Various groups, including the Florida Sheriff’s Association, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Citizens Commission on Human Rights Florida, and the Florida PTA, came together to support changes in the law. “I like to stand up for people who have no voice,” says the Florida PTA steward.
Parents and legal guardians of children with developmental disabilities who have had above-average bad experiences with the Bakers Act agree to the cooperation and the expression of opinion. “Nothing changes if you don’t talk about it,” says Cathy Lovejoy. Lovejoy has mistakenly told Baker Acted the story of her grandson, who was born with a neurological condition called Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, to the media several times in an attempt to change public awareness on the matter. Lovejoy called the new revision a “good step” to protect children’s and parents’ rights.
However, attorney Drach is dissatisfied. “This is a positive addition,” says Drach, “but there is still a lot to be done.”
“There are no teeth for the rights Baker Act patients have,” he says. Drach notes that the law should be changed to include “reasonable legal fees” in order to attract more lawyers to the issue. He describes the issue as an “underserved area of law” that most people cannot afford a lawyer, leaving human rights abuses and insurance fraud unchallenged.
“Fraud. It happens every day in the state of Florida,” says Drach. Every bed that is filled under a Baker Act in a mental hospital makes thousands of dollars. If a child is mistakenly Baker Acted at the behest of school staff, they always fall One person was billed for $ 20,000 after an involuntary two night stay at such a facility. Drach cited another customer who was billed $ 40,000 for a helicopter ride for an involuntary investigation, a ride they hadn’t asked for and couldn’t afford.
Drach is a founding member of the Baker Act Defense Attorney Summit and Symposium, a fully accredited, all-day educational event for defense lawyers fighting human rights abuses in the mental health field hosted by the Citizens Commission on Human Rights Florida. This year’s summit, at which he was the keynote speaker, took place virtually on July 23. According to CCHR, there was a record turnout on the internet with more and more attorneys keen to pursue justice for clients wronged by the misapplication of Florida Mental Health Act.
Although the time has come, Drach, as a father himself, encourages parents to familiarize themselves with changes to the Baker Act in order to better provide for their children.
This amended law “makes a commitment for parents in the state of Florida to maintain a connection with the front office of their child’s school,” says Drach. “By building relationships with school staff, they know who to turn to with your child in an emergency. And in the case of the Bakers Act, before your child is handcuffed and carted away, they will contact you first. “
Drach says, “This creates the best possible outcome for families in Florida.”
About CCHR: CCHR is a nonprofit mental health monitoring group dedicated to eradicating abuse under the guise of mental health. CCHR, a human rights expert in mental health, is committed to ensuring that patient and consumer protection is implemented and upheld. In that capacity, since its inception over 52 years ago, CCHR has helped enact more than 180 laws protecting individuals from abusive or coercive mental health practices. For more information on CCHR Florida, please visit www.cchrflorida.org
CCHR was founded in 1969 by the Church of Scientology and Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry Dr. Thomas Szasz co-founded when patients were locked up in institutions and deprived of all constitutional, civil and human rights. It was L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, who introduced the world to the terror of psychiatric imprisonment. In March 1969 he said: “Every week thousands and thousands are arrested without trial, tortured, castrated, killed across the ‘free world’. All in the name of ‘mental health.’ ”For more information about the Church of Scientology, please visit www.scientology.org
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July 27, 2021 at 05:33 GMT
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