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CLEARWATER, Fla., July 25, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Florida Baker Act “is an area that needs legislation and it needs litigation,” Maria Managicaro, a member of the International Society for Ethical Psychology and Psychiatry, told Freedom after attending the Baker Act Defense Attorney Symposium and Summit at the Clearwater-based Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) Florida center on July 19.
In 2018, 32,475 minors were Baker-Acted in Florida and, “When you’re Baker-Acted,” said former Tampa Bay Assistant Public Defender Carmen Miller, “you are handcuffed, put in the backseat of a patrol car, and taken to a mental health facility.” It’s not an arrest but, “It’s going to feel like an arrest.”
“Imagine that happening to your kid,” she said.
Miller said that once your kid, your mom, your dad, sister, brother or maybe even your grandparent is in the mental health facility, “They have no way to talk to people. When I was a public defender I was asked all the time, ‘can you call my dad?’” Therefore the goal of CCHR in partnership with Florida attorneys is “to get people out as fast as possible.”
To provide different ideas and ways that have been successful in achieving this goal, CCHR Florida held their third Baker Act Defense Attorney Symposium and Summit at CCHR Florida’s headquarters on July 19.
“We want the restoration of rights,” said CCHR Florida President Diane Stein. “If you look at the number of kids who are being Baker Acted, 80 percent of them don’t qualify for the Baker Act.”
According to Florida law, to hold someone under the Baker Act, they must meet the following criteria:
1. The person has refused voluntary examination or the person is unable to determine for himself or herself whether examination is necessary.
2. Without care or treatment, the person is likely to suffer from neglect or refuse to care for himself or herself; such neglect or refusal poses a real and present threat of substantial harm to his or her well-being; and it is not apparent that such harm may be avoided through the help of willing family members or friends or the provision of other services.
3. There is a substantial likelihood that without care or treatment the person will cause serious bodily harm to himself or herself or others in the near future, as evidenced by recent behavior.
But it’s more than just the kids because even elders’ rights are being violated. “The laws of protecting these patients are ignored,” said Stein who recounted the time a blind and elderly mother was tricked into signing herself into the facility “voluntarily”. CCHR called police to get her out. Upon arrival the officer tried to use a phone in the facility to make the call, no dial tone. As soon as the officer reached for his cell phone, “the staff immediately let her go,” said Stein.
CCHR is a non-profit, non-religious and non-governmental organization co-founded in 1969 by Dr. Tomas Szasz, a well-known psychiatrist and author, and the Church of Scientology. For 50 years CCHR has been a mental health watchdog exposing psychiatric abuses and holding those accountable for human rights violations in the mental health field.
Justin Drach, a former Naval Aviator with 10 years of military service, is now a lawyer in Jacksonville, Florida and has partnered with CCHR Florida since 2015. “Not every lawyer in the Florida counties has real knowledge of the Baker Act,” said Drach. “That’s why we do this symposium.”
Initially established by the Church of Scientology and renowned psychiatrist Dr. Thomas Szasz in 1969, CCHR’s mission is to eradicate abuses committed under the guise of mental health and enact patient and consumer protections. It was L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, who brought the terror of psychiatric imprisonment to the notice of the world. In March 1969, he said, “Thousands and thousands are seized without process of law, every week, over the ‘free world’ tortured, castrated, killed. All in the name of ‘mental health.’” For more information visit, www.cchrflorida.org
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Contact: Sam Guillard