We Should Not Forcibly Commit the Homeless During Hurricanes

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From Pacific Standard: In an effort to protect homeless individuals from the effects of Hurricane Irma, officials from the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust used the Baker Act to involuntarily commit any homeless people who would not voluntarily seek shelter. This policy has set a dangerous precedent for locking homeless people up without due process; several advocacy organizations including NARPA and the Bazelon Center have spoken out against it.

“Friedman is concerned about homeless people in Miami. But he also knows that the risks don’t come only from the storm. ‘It’s scary,’ he says, ‘when people make decisions that others don’t like, they define it as crazy. In this case, they lock them up without any due process.’ He wonders, now that this precedent has been set, what other moments will justify trawling the streets of Miami to ‘Baker-Act’ homeless residents.

In the end, officials at the Homeless Trust told me, six people were committed. It’s not a huge number, but each of these individuals has rights, and in each case those rights were violated. Those violations could be been prevented with better planning. Advocates worry about the potential for similar misuse of involuntary commitment, especially given that none of the¬†widespread¬†news¬†coverage¬†of the Baker Act reached out to experts like NARPA, Next Steps, or the Bazelon Center.”

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  1. I was horrified when I saw this. And, sickened by it. What a power play!!! They could care less about the homeless but the event gave them the window needed to exert complete control over these people in this situation. People who’s quality of life is poor and made and kept that way by organizations like this. How many of them were thrown back out on the street when the crisis passed? How many will be forced to endure “mental health treatment” indefinitely because society failed them. The true intentions of these people is clear and thinly veiled. What does the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust do all the other days in all the other years? Obviously they aren’t accomplishing their implied task of reducing homelessness.

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