Lauren Book, Patt Maney want to reform state’s Baker and Marchman Acts

Those laws allow officials to detain a person struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues.

A new bipartisan measure aims to revamp two state laws allowing officials to detain individuals with mental health or substance abuse issues.

Both the Baker and Marchman Acts allow for voluntary and involuntary detention for people deemed a danger to themselves or others. The Baker Act applies to individuals dealing with mental health issues, while the Marchman Act covers people struggling with substance abuse.

The new legislation (SB 828 and HB 405) looks to increase access to resources for patients after they’ve been discharged to help guide the individual to recovery. The measure also looks to increase penalties for anyone who seeks to detain another person under false pretenses.

Democratic Sen. Lauren Book and Republican Rep. Patt Maney are behind the bipartisan reform.

“It’s long past time the State of Florida modernized the Baker and Marchman Acts to reflect advances in case law and best-practices in medicine and psychology, with the goal of more compassionately and effectively providing care for individuals in crisis,” Book said in a Friday statement highlighting her push.

“From preventing schoolchildren from being inappropriately Baker Acted to providing a continuum of care to achieve true stabilization and prevent re-commitment, the measures contained within this bill are badly needed and will make a difference for many.”

One portion of the new legislation states that after a patient’s discharge, a facility “must inform a respondent with a serious mental illness of the essential elements of recovery and provide assistance with accessing a continuum of care regimen.”

The measure also seeks to increase legal protections for minors being admitted for treatment.

“A minor may be admitted to a facility only on the basis of the express and informed consent of the minor’s parent or legal guardian in conjunction with the minor’s assent,” the Senate version reads.

“The minor’s assent is an affirmative agreement by the minor to remain at the facility for examination and treatment. The minor’s failure to object is not assent.”

Any individual who attempts to detain another using false information will be subject to a first degree misdemeanor.

On Friday, Book also highlighted support from Judge Steven Leifman, a Mental Health Court Judge based in Miami-Dade County.

“The changes proposed in SB 828 will ensure that behavioral health care is more efficiently provided, public safety is enhanced and people with mental health and substance use disorders will have an opportunity for hope and recovery,” Leifman said.

“As a result of the pandemic, the need to help and treat our most vulnerable Floridians with mental health and substance use disorders has never been greater. As the Baker Act turns 50, it’s time to modernize the law to reflect today’s science and medicine and to simplify the Marchman Act so we can help Floridians get the treatment they deserve.”

Ryan Nicol

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to [email protected]

One comment

  • Michelle Radaszewski

    February 1, 2021 at 9:37 am

    What we really need is increased facilities and providers for after care. It is good to say that facilities need to educate patients to go to counseling or drug rehab but if there are not enough providers it is difficult.

Comments are closed.


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