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CCHR’s Baker Act Continuing Education Courses Help Protect Citizens from Abuse

by | Mar 31, 2021

The Florida chapter of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) began hosting continuing education courses for attorneys in 2018 in response to the alarming number of people taken into custody each year under the Baker Act.

Florida’s mental health law, known as the Baker Act, allows for individuals of all ages to be taken into custody for an involuntary psychiatric examination. According to the most recent report there were over 210,000 Baker Acts initiated during 2018/2019 and more than 37,000 were on children. [1]

Over the past several years, the abusive use of the Baker Act, especially when dealing with children, has repeatedly been reported in the media. Headlines such as “6-year-old Florida girl “traumatized” after being involuntarily sent to mental health facility” and “Florida’s flawed Baker Act rips thousands of kids from school” are all too frequent and tell the stories of children and families that have suffered Baker Act abuse. [2,3]

Spurred into action by these stories and thousands of calls received from victims of Baker Act abuse, CCHR, a mental health watchdog, decided to begin offering continuing education on the law. After first receiving approval to host continuing education through the Florida Bar on the Baker Act for attorneys, the move to become a provider through the Florida Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage and Family Therapy and Mental Health Counseling was a logical next step. The courses are now held virtually allowing attorneys and mental health professionals from across the state to attend.

Designed to educate those in attendance on the context and intentions of the mental health law as well as the basic human rights impacted by the Baker Act and its unintended consequences, the course for mental health professionals is delivered by attorney Carmen Miller, a former assistant public defender in the Thirteenth Circuit in Tampa, with an extensive background in dealing with Baker Acts.

The course for attorneys is delivered by a team of professionals and geared towards not only covering changes to the law but also toward providing an opportunity for those in attendance to learn how best to defend their clients.

Both events are complimentary and are regularly held throughout the year. To learn more or to reserve a seat for the next virtual course, please call 727-442-8820.

Sources:
[1] Baker Act Reporting Center https://www.usf.edu/cbcs/baker-act/documents/ba_usf_annual_report_2018_2019.pdf
[2] WUSF Health News Florida COMMITTED https://wfsu.org/committed/
[3] Baker Act Abuse – Media Stories https://www.cchrflorida.org/baker-act-abuse/

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