Baker Act

'Huge' Revamp Of Mental-Health Services Scrapped

Apr 29, 2015

  An ambitious proposal to revamp the state's system for delivering mental-health services became a casualty of the House's early exit from the Capitol, as the plan's Senate sponsor Wednesday refused to along with changes made by House members.

Florida’s Legislature may consider revamping the state’s Baker Act law that oversees the involuntary commitment of people thought to be a danger to themselves or others, the News Service of Florida reports. Bills filed in both the House and Senate would look at the amount of time individuals are screened, and may consider using remote, telemedicine consultations to evaluate patients, the News Service reports.

The bludgeoning deaths of a Tavares woman, her brother and mother by a man with schizophrenia is renewing criticism of how the state handles the mentally ill in crisis, the Orlando Sentinel reports.


The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office will pay $1.15 million to the estate of a woman with bipolar disorder who died in a jail cell after refusing food and medication, the Tampa Bay Times reports. Jennifer DeGraw was jailed in 2009, after he husband tried to hospitalize his manic wife under the state’s Baker Act for the mentally ill, the Times reports.

Every time there is a mass shooting, everyone agrees there should be more focus on identifying and treating persons with emergency mental health problems.

But a mental-health bill up that comes up this week in Senate Appropriations would have the opposite result, according to consumer groups in mental health.

"We call it the 'Nightmare of the Senate'," said Maggie Labarta, clinical psychologist and CEO of Meridian Behavioral Health Care in Gainesville. 

Clinics that provide anabolic steroids and other controlled drugs to anyone with enough cash - from teen-age body-builders to pro baseball players - have festered in Florida because of a loophole in the law.

A bill aimed at closing it comes before the Senate Health Policy Committee Tuesday afternoon.  The bill, (SB 746) by Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, would give the Agency for Health Care Administration authority over all clinics, not just those that accept insurance.

Sujatha Guduru of Oviedo had a 20-year history of mental illness. She had required hospitalization in a psychiatric ward three times, was seeing a mental-health counselor and taking psychotropic drugs. Yet Guduru was still able to walk into a local gun shop and buy a revolver.

The Senate unanimously approved a ban on texting-while-driving this morning, the Tampa Bay Times reports. The bill's next stop is the House. 

Palm Beach Post

In the wake of the Newtown, CT, mass shooting of children by a troubled adolescent late last year, many states are trying to improve monitoring and require treatment for those who are deemed a danger to themselves or others.

After he fired six shots in his home -- aiming at rats, he said --76-year-old Thomas Judd of Tampa was “Baker Acted,” taken to a crisis center for an involuntary mental health examination. As usual, he was found to be suffering from schizophrenia.  His guns were taken away.

But now Judd has his guns back, after a proceeding in Hillsborough Circuit Court, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

Even though laws in Florida prevented 18-year-old Benjamin Bishop from buying a gun, that didn’t stop him from getting one, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Miami Herald columnist Fred Grimm tells the story of a 26-year-old Iraq War vet who was holed up in a townhouse with 20 assault weapons and plenty of ammunition, delusional, angry and suffering from paranoia. So many things could have gone wrong -- but because talented and dedicated public servants got involved, they didn't.

A 25-year-old social worker and recent USF grad was stabbed and killed by her 53-year-old client, a man with a criminal history who had been Baker-Acted once before.