For years people suffering mental illness had no rights, they underwent surgery's and shock treatment that were unnecessary or failed, and were often incarcerated without hope of release.
In the 18th century vagrants could be hospitalized against their will indefinitely.
Forensic Psychologist Dr. Eddy Regnier, M.F.W., M.A., Ph. D. of Assessment and Psychotherapy Services in Sarasota said, a judge could simply sign an order to institutionalize people with mental illness or behavioral problems.
Now, there are laws that serve to protect the mentally ill.
Dr. Regnier explained. "If someone is so mentally disturbed that they are a danger to themselves or to another person, if they suffer from delusions, paranoia, they are not eating, or they are threatening to someone because of voices, hallucinations. Then that person clearly meets criteria to be Baker Acted."
In 1971, the Baker Act, also known as the Florida Mental Health Act named after Maxine Baker, ,a former Florida State Legislator and advocate for the rights of the mentally ill became law.
The Baker Act was designed to help protect and properly identify patients. Patients can now communicate with others, receive mail, and are permitted legal representation.