1. Long Reads

Reporters have been exploring the unintended consequences of the state’s mental health law

A Tampa Bay Times investigation.
 [Tara McCarty]
[Tara McCarty]
Published Dec. 22, 2019

Read the series installments below:

Florida’s flawed Baker Act rips thousands of kids from school.

Connor Lovejoy, pictured with his grandmother, Cathy Lovejoy, and Loki, a trained service dog. [JOHN PENDYGRAFT | Times]

The Baker Act set out to improve care. Now it’s ensnaring more children.

Florida's Baker Act was written in 1971 by Maxine Baker, a 65-year-old grandmother and freshman legislator from Dade County. She's seen here in a 1965 photo. [Associated Press]

An autistic child melts down. An officer makes a decision. A family suffers the consequences.

Staci and Terry Plonsky, holding art from their autistic son, depicting the day A.J. taken by the school resource officer to a mental health facility. [JOHN PENDYGRAFT | Times]

“My hands were tied. I couldn’t do anything about it.”

Ann Corzo and her son, Kristopher. [.]

You’re trapped. They’re cashing in.

Michael Jenkins with his wife, Jamie Jenkins, and their three children. [JOHN PENDYGRAFT | Times]


  1. A Times investigation led to the rediscovery of Zion Cemetery underneath Robles Park Village. [Google Earth]
  2. A donation page on the Law Enforcement Officers Relief Fund website explains the benefits of giving to the organization. [Center for Public Integrity  ]
  3. Shane Sheil, 29, right, grew up in foster care in Pinellas County when he was profiled by the Times in 2006. He’s now a meat cutter in East St. Louis, is married, has a stepson, and several pets, including his dog Rooster. [Courtesy of Shane Sheil]
  4.  [Tara McCarty]
  5. A Segway tour is seen along the Tampa Riverwalk along with pedestrians Tuesday, May 28, 2019 in Tampa. [CHRIS URSO  |  Tampa Bay Times]
  6. Cognizant’s content moderators described stressful working conditions for those who regularly reviewed graphic violence and hate speech. [RON BORRESEN | Times]
  7. Shane Sheil, 16, only wanted three things for Christmas, an Xbox 360, a skateboard and a family.  After a story about Shane ran in the St. Petersburg Times, the community responded, and two of his three wishes have already been fulfilled.  Someone donated an Xbox 360 to him, and a local skateboard shop offered to let him come in and pick out anything he wanted.  He now spends his days playing games like Need for Speed Carbon with friends, and said he hopes he can go get the skateboard up soon.  (MELISSA LYTTLE | Times) [LYTTLE, MELISSA  |  St. Petersburg Times]
  8. Shane Sheil, 16, rides his bike to and from school every day.  He prides himself on his speed as well as being self-sufficient.   (MELISSA LYTTLE | Times) [LYTTLE, MELISSA  |  St. Petersburg Times]
  9. "I pray for hope. Sometimes, it is a cry for help," explains Martí Gonzalez, whose son Patrick was 2 months old when she found him unresponsive in his crib in May 2015. "Some days, I'm OK, and some days, I'm not." [PHOTOS BY JOHN PENDYGRAFT  |  Times]
  10. Florida's Baker Act was written in 1971 by Maxine Baker, a 65-year-old grandmother and a freshman Florida legislator from Miami-Dade County, seen here in a 1965 photo. [Associated Press]
  11. Sarah Henderson with her son, Braden, who was committed under the Baker Act after a joking remark at school. [JOHN PENDYGRAFT  |  Tampa Bay Times]