Monday, November 27, 2006

Troubling New York Case

See this editorial, which begins:

Very little is known publicly about the death earlier this month of a 15-year-old boy at the Tryon Residential Center for Boys in Fulton County, not even his name and the precise circumstances under which he apparently had to be restrained. Already, though, some uneasy questions have emerged.

Why, for instance, are workers at the state Office of Children and Family Services, which operates Tryon, trained in using a method of restraint that two other state agencies have banned? The procedure calls for staff members to place the subject face down, lie across his back and immobilize his arms.

Officials said the boy at Tryon had to be subdued after he became physically aggressive on Nov. 17. Details of how he was restrained were not provided.

Disability Advocates Inc., which represents institutionalized people, says the procedure in which Children and Family Services workers are trained should be abandoned. It's already banned in the state prison system, and by the state Office of Mental Health.

As Cliff Zucker of Disability Advocates Inc. explains, the person being restrained most likely won't be able to complain if he can't breathe. Gasping for air can easily be misinterpreted as physically resisting such restraint, which means a potentially dangerous method can be applied even more forcefully.


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