The METO Settlement
Roberta Opheim: The Initial Call
Roberta Opheim: We had initially received a phone call from one family that was concerned about the amount of restraint and the methodology by using metal law enforcement handcuffs in a treatment program. And it was somewhat of a routine call; we made some suggestions. They called back and said the facility had agreed to discontinue the use of those restraints on their individual, and we thought the case was closed. However, a few months later, we received one and then another complaint that was very similar in nature, which made us wonder if this was a widespread practice or an isolated incident, as we had originally thought.
What we found out was that it was a widespread, programmatic emphasis on the use of restraints routinely as a form of behavior modification programming and that, when those restraints were applied, they often employed the handcuffs and the leg hobbles, which is an extreme form of restraint and curtailment of individual liberty.
We initially looked at a random sample of cases, and we saw that this pattern existed. And our first step would be to notify the Department of Licensing, both in the Health Department and the Department of Human Services and say, we think there are some violations going on here. And we turned our focus to looking at what are the needs of the clients and advocating for their particular best interest.