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Florida lawmaker looks to limit restraint used on Baker Acted minors

Florida Politics reported the bill was drawn up after a report from the summer showed that a record number of minors were Baker Acted.
The number of kids Baker Acted in Hillsborough County went up more than 140 percent in the last five years.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A Florida State Representative is pushing a bill that would limit the restraint used on underage people being Baker Acted.

HB 1027 from Rep. Kimberly Daniels, D-Jacksonville, would add to the current statute.

“If other less restrictive means are not available, such as voluntary appearance for outpatient evaluation, a law enforcement officer, or other designated agent of the court, shall take the person into custody and deliver him or her to an appropriate, or the nearest, facility within the designated receiving system…for involuntary examination,” the statute reads.

Florida's Baker Act is a law that lets families get people who are affected by mental illness emergency mental health services and temporarily detain them.  It is important that the Baker Act only be used in situations where the person has a mental illness and meets all the remaining criteria for voluntary or involuntary admission, according to University of Florida Health.

“An officer transporting a minor under this subparagraph shall restrain the minor in the least restrictive manner necessary under the circumstances,” Daniels’ addition to the statute said.

Florida Politics reported that Daniels’ bill was drawn up after a report from the summer showed that a record number of minors were Baker Acted.

The University of South Florida Baker Act Reporting Center reported more than 36,000 underaged people were involuntarily examined under the Baker Act. The numbers in that report show that there were about 1,186 involuntary examinations of children per 100,000 that year.

The report shows that not only has the number of minors getting examined involuntarily spiked 83-percent but also the total population of children has gone down.

Law enforcement officers who don’t usually have extensive mental health training are the ones who make the decision to send a minor to be involuntarily examined.

RELATED: Advocates say Florida not enforcing law that protects against mental health insurance discrimination

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