| Home | Article Database | Fun Stuff | Resources | Tools & Calculators | Search HY

Ask the Mental Health Expert Archives 2001-2004

Expert Home  |  Archives by Date  |  Search Expert Archives  |  For Professionals  |  For Consumers

The Baker Act

Q. Who was Baker? What actually happened to bring this about? I am wondering about the actual history of the Baker's Act.

A. The Baker Act is a 1971 Florida statute, enacted to help protect the rights of the mentally ill along with public safety. It advocated community-based mental health care programs over committing people to institutions. It said that only people found by a court to be a danger to themselves or others can be committed. Involuntary commitment requires that a judge, police officer or doctor must first decide the person is potentially ill enough to require an involuntary medical exam.

Within 72 hours of that exam, the person may be released or voluntarily agree to further inpatient treatment. If not, the facility that conducted the exam must file an involuntary commitment petition that must be heard by a court within five days (see St. Petersburg Times, May 7, 1999 and related articles in that newspaper).

According to Prof. John Petrila of the Mental Health Law & Policy division of the Florida Mental Health Institute [http://www.fmhi.usf.edu/mhlp], the act was named for a Florida state representative, Maxine Baker, who had a strong interest in mental health issues and served as chair of a House Committee on mental health. For more information, you may want to contact the Institute at 813-974-4510.

Other Resources:

September 2001

Disclaimer Back to Ask the Expert