June 8, 2018

As Florida's Juvenile Arrests Declined, Baker Act Examinations Skyrocketed [Naples News]

This post was last updated on December 8, 2021. As new policies are announced, FPI will update this page.

As Florida’s response to COVID-19 takes front and center, concern grows for low-income families who struggle to take precautions against the spread of the virus. Although Congress has passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to address, at least in part,  the public health crisis and economic fallout from COVID-19, many barriers continue to keep struggling families from accessing the assistance they need during the pandemic. As Florida initiates policies implementing the Act and addressing other barriers to the safety net, FPI will update this form. When available, hyperlinks are provided to agency documents or statements that provide greater detail  about the new policy.

On March 22, 2020, FPI and 44 other organizations sent a letter to Governor DeSantis, leadership in the Legislature and agency heads to urge action on 47 specific policy changes to reduce unnecessary barriers for Florida’s safety net programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. See the letter here.

Florida’s declining juvenile arrests and increasing civil citation rates are great signs of progress toward criminal justice reform. Over the past five years, juvenile arrests declined by 24 percent while civil citations rose by 33.3 percent.

While these trends are encouraging, the opposite can be said of Florida’s rate of involuntary psychiatric examinations of children that occurred under the Baker Act, a Florida law that allows police, doctors and judges to perform examinations on children who appear to have a mental illness and who pose a danger to themselves or others.

From 2010-15, the number of statewide Baker Act examinations grew at an alarming rate of 49.3 percent. This growth is even more concerning when compared to Florida’s child population growth, which is merely 5.53 percent. This data reveals that mental health is a growing challenge among the state’s youth and failing to account for it in our criminal justice reform dialogue carries massive harmful implications for juvenile justice in Florida.

Read more on naplesnews.com

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