DAA News Network

USA: Legal victory and ban on restraints in institutions

Posted 28/6-11 at 00.37

Since 1997, about 200 of the 300 people living at the Minnesota Extended Treatment Options (METO), a residential institution for people with learning difficulties in Cambridge, were restrained by staff, sometimes for nothing more than touching a pizza box. Now, they will share in a $3 million settlement of a federal class action lawsuit.

The settlement this week finalises a tentative agreement reached last fall and bars the state from using handcuffs or other restraints, except in emergencies.

"It's fairly obvious to me that there was just a widespread misuse of restraints and seclusion, and it needed to be discontinued," said Shamus O'Meara, a Minneapolis lawyer who sued the state on behalf of three former residents.

"I think the significance is, there won't be people in leg shackles and handcuffs anymore," said Scott Schifsky, program director for Minnesota, an advocacy group for disabled people.

The state has agreed to spend nearly $1 million on additional staff and training for community programs for the people with learning difficulties, using funds now budgeted for METO. It also will set up committees to help ensure that disabled people can live in the least-restrictive settings possible.




No comments registered

Add your comment:

Written by: