Mississippi Lawsuit Quotes JDAI Standards on Fixed Restraints

Posted December 20, 2012
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

JDAI stan­dards on the use of fixed restraints are being cit­ed as mod­el stan­dards in a civ­il rights law­suit filed by the South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter over the use of hand­cuffs at an alter­na­tive school in Jack­son, Mississippi. 

The law­suit, A.M. v. Jack­son Pub­lic Schools et al.,” was filed in June 2011. It accus­es offi­cials at the Cap­i­tal City Alter­na­tive School in Jack­son of rou­tine­ly hand­cuff­ing and shack­ling stu­dents to rail­ings and oth­er fixed objects for hours as pun­ish­ment for non-crim­i­nal infrac­tions. The 25-page com­plaint uses direct lan­guage from Mov­ing Away from Hard­ware: The Juve­nile Deten­tion Alter­na­tives Ini­tia­tive Stan­dards on Fixed Restraint” in describ­ing how restraints may evoke feel­ings of guilt, humil­i­a­tion, embar­rass­ment, hope­less­ness, pow­er­less­ness, fear and panic.” 

Chil­dren describe these events as puni­tive and aver­sive, leav­ing lin­ger­ing psy­cho­log­i­cal scars” and report recur­rent night­mares, intru­sive thoughts, avoid­ance behav­iors, enhanced star­tle response … even years after the event,” the com­plaint said, quot­ing the report. 

The lead plain­tiff is a 16-year-old boy with a his­to­ry of asth­ma, atten­tion-deficit dis­or­der, and seizures. The com­plaint alleges that the boy was told on April 1 he could not go to class because he for­got his belt. School offi­cials alleged­ly ordered the boy hand­cuffed when he protest­ed. The boy spent the rest of the day hand­cuffed to a rail­ing in the school gym, court doc­u­ments said. The com­plaint says the restraint was repeat­ed sev­er­al more times over the course of the next week, for infrac­tions such as not hav­ing a belt or not wear­ing the prop­er type of shoes. 

This is a won­der­ful appli­ca­tion of the prin­ci­ples JDAI has sup­port­ed for many years,” said Sue Bur­rell, the author of Mov­ing Away from Hard­ware.” We have always known that youth can be safe­ly and humane­ly han­dled with­out such intru­sive restraint mea­sures, and the JDAI stan­dards dis­cour­age their use in juve­nile facilities.” 

Mov­ing Away from Hard­ware: The Juve­nile Deten­tion Alter­na­tives Ini­tia­tive Stan­dards on Fixed Restraint” and the South­ern Pover­ty Law Cen­ter com­plaint are avail­able on the JDAI Help Desk.

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