National tragedies like the student massacres in Columbine, Colorado; Blacksburg, Virginia; and Newtown, Connecticut tend to revive state and national debates and legislation on mental health reforms. This often heated political discussion involves the involuntary commitment for psychiatric evaluation and possible treatment, particularly with children. Previous blog posts explain in detail how side effects of psychiatric drugs produce significant damage to the brain, nervous system, muscles and other bodily organs and functions.
The Florida Mental Health Act – also known as The Baker Act – makes it possible for psychologists, psychiatrists, law enforcement officers and judges to commit without consent people to psychiatric examination if they present an imminent danger to themselves or others. But what, one might ask, classifies as an “imminent danger” nowadays? Laurie Anspach, quoted by The Voice magazine, cites a few of the reasons for Baker Acts:
“An eight-year-old boy who stomped on an administrator’s foot; an 11 year old who had a fist fight with his cousin in the playground; a straight “A” student who skipped class and got subject to a mental health questionnaire that, when evaluated, deemed she was a potential risk to herself.”
A Fox News report in 2012 argued that a major factor in the insanity and criminality of school shootings is a lack of stringent legislation on mental health issues, including involuntary commitment.
“The trend over the decades has been to release mental health patients, with a number of court cases restricting involuntary commitment. Last week’s deadly rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School exposed cracks and inconsistencies within the nation’s mental health system. Many say that until those problems are fixed, it’s only a matter of time before another national nightmare unfolds.”
But an absence of tight mental health regulation isn’t the problem, at least not in Florida. Let’s look at some statistics: The number of Florida adults and children involuntarily committed for “mental health” reasons has increased by 49 and 35 percent respectively from 2002 to 2011, according to a report from the Florida Department of Children and Families. In 2011, 150,000 involuntary exams were done, with 93,000 adults and 18,000 children examined. Miami-Dade County, in particular, saw a dramatic spike in its juvenile psychiatric commitments, the Miami Herald reported in 2012.
“At least 646 times this year — that’s an average of more than three times every school day — Miami-Dade school police have handcuffed a student, put him or her in the back of a patrol car and driven to a mental health facility under the rules in Florida’s mental health law, the Baker Act.”
Now let’s look at some Florida crime statistics:
Florida has one of the highest crime rates in the country; this state ranks higher in violent crimes, incarcerations and law enforcement than 45 other states, including Texas, California and New York.
> Violent crimes (excl. murder) per 100,000: 537.2 (9th most)
> Murders per 100,000: 5.2 (17th most)
> Incarceration rate per 100,000: 556 (7th most)
> Police per 100,000: 404.7 (7th most)
> Basic access: 79.5 (7th lowest)
> Total cost of violence: $34.28 billion
Source: 24/7WallSt.com – April 26, 2012
Fortunately, Florida has not had a school shooting on par with some of the other ones across the country, but how effective is involuntary psychiatry when it comes to dealing with insanity and criminality? You be the judge.