After winning the PRNEWS Platinum Award for Government Relations in 2022, Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) Florida is once again a finalist for 2023. Learn about CCHR Florida President Diane Stein and the battle she leads to prevent coercive psychiatry from harming Florida families. Watch her episode on Voices for Humanity on the Scientology Network.
After taking home the PRNEWS Platinum Award in 2022 for its work to protect the human rights of families, CCHR Florida is a finalist for 2023 in the category of Activism/Advocacy Campaigns. The story of how CCHR Florida President Diane Stein came to take up the battle to end the grip of coercive psychiatry in her state is documented in an episode of Voices for Humanity on the Scientology Network.
Learn how Stein found out about the state’s repressive Baker Act when her mother was committed in a spurious use of the procedure after experiencing an adverse reaction to a medication. “That was a wake-up call,” she says. Because of her familiarity with CCHR, Stein was able to navigate the system and get her mother released. But she realized that if this could happen to her family, it must be devastating to others who don’t have any idea how to deal with such a violation of their family’s rights.
In 2016, of the 19 million residents of Florida, nearly 200,000 were committed against their will through the Baker Act. Some 32,000 of these were children, who could be committed based on this law without their parents’ knowledge or permission.
“Using social media and other means of communication, we were able to raise awareness on these issues and spur Florida families to contact members of the Florida Legislature,” says Stein. They filed numerous complaints, exposed abuse through news stories and social media, partnered with other organizations, and ran information campaigns, creating a grassroots movement that put pressure on Florida lawmakers to make the issue a priority. As a result, the number of people committed under the Baker Act in Florida dropped for three straight years.
Continuing their pressure, in 2021 they helped see to the passing of new legislation including a Parents’ Bill of Rights. “The success of this campaign showcased that a small group of well-intentioned parents can effect meaningful change,” says Stein.
“CCHR gave me the insights I needed and the courage I needed to demand that they release my son,” says a woman whose child was wrongly committed through the Baker Act. “I had someone on my side. I had someone to support me in uncharted waters.”
Citizens Commission on Human Rights was cofounded in 1969 by professor of psychiatry Dr. Thomas Szasz and the Church of Scientology. With headquarters in Los Angeles, California, CCHR International guides a global human rights advocacy network of some 180 chapters across more than 30 nations. CCHR Commissioners include physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, lawyers, legislators, government officials, educators and civil rights representatives.
The Scientology Network features episodes of Voices for Humanity on CCHR’s human rights advocacy from Florida to France and from London to Los Angeles.
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