How do I get my loved one released from a Baker Act facility?
Hello, everyone! It’s Mark, and welcome to another edition of our video newsletter. In this video, I want to talk to you about how you can secure your loved ones’ release from a Baker Act facility.
There are only two ways someone gets released from the Baker Act facility. The first way is when the facility decides to let them go. We get many calls from people stuck in Baker Act facilities, and we’re good at getting them released.
Sometimes facilities will release them. It’s hard to believe, but sometimes the facilities follow the law. They’re allowed to hold a person for up to 72 hours. Once the 72 hours end, one of two things needs to happen. They either need to release them or go to court, file a petition for involuntary placement, and ask a judge for permission to hold them beyond 72 hours. There are a lot of facilities that respect the fact that there are statutory requirements for the continued holding of a person. Once they get the person stabilized within the 72 window, a lot of the facilities are releasing them, and I tip my hat to those individuals because that’s what the law says. If you can stabilize them within 72 hours and let them go. The families need to understand that this is an ongoing problem and that they’re probably going to need to take other actions to make sure their loved one doesn’t get baker acted again.
I get calls all the time where a family’s loved one has been baker acted multiple times. I had a call from a woman in a facility who had been baker -acted a dozen times over the years, and that’s frightening because this person clearly needs help.
The first way to get your loved one released is if the facility lets the person go because they’ve done what needs to be done to stabilize them. The second way is when we step in. It’s when a judge orders the person to be released.
I want to be clear that we’re talking about whether it’s an abuse of the Baker Act. Somebody had posted on Facebook accusing me of being anti-Baker Act. I’m not anti-Baker Act, especially when it’s done right; when the laws are followed. It’s a very important and useful tool for saving somebody. It’s designed for emergency stabilization; it’s not a treatment statute. If somebody needs emergency stabilization, I’m all for the state stepping in and stabilizing the person to make sure they’re safe and the people around them are safe. But what happens is that the statute gets abused by the Baker Acts facilities, which are state agents. They are being abused because these facilities are not being watched. They’re not being monitored, and when your loved one gets taken to that facility, nobody else besides you knows they’re even there.
The questions are: Who’s counting how many hours they’re there? Who’s counting the times they’ve met with a clinician or how many therapy sessions they’ve been? What are the medications they’re being given or the medications they’re being denied? Who’s watching them? —The simple answer is nobody, and that’s where the abuse steps in. If your loved one is being held beyond 72 hours, and the facility is not releasing them, and they’re not running to the courthouse to file the petition for involuntary placement, which they’re supposed to do, then you need a judge to order your loved one released.
We handle tons of these cases all over the state, and most of the time, once we step in, the facilities will allow your loved one to go because they know they’ve been caught. They know they’re violating your loved one’s rights, and they know they shouldn’t be doing that. If the facility is not going to release your loved one and they’re not going to follow the law and go to court and get a court order and permission to keep them, we’re going to need to go to court and get a judge to order them released.
If you go to the Q and A section of the Baker Act attorney’s website, there’s a ton of content out there that talks about certain things that you should look for so that you can get an idea as to whether or not the facility is going to release your loved one.
There are two videos you’re going to see on the website. The first one talks about the number of different signs you can look for. It also talks about the one thing that I always see in every case we file: insurance. I would encourage you to look at those videos.
Like I’ve said earlier, two things will happen: they let them go, or we force them to let them go.
Thank you again for the social media posts and questions. If you send me a question, I’m happy to do a video on it. I think that the families need to have this information for free.
Take care, be well and stay safe.