Texas Panel Passes Restraint Bill
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
April 7, 2003
AUSTIN, TEXAS -- Since 1990, at least 25 Texans with disabilities have died during or soon after being restrained in residential facilities housing people with mental retardation or mental illness. Seven of those have occurred in just the last two years.
One was 9-year-old Randy Steele, who died in February 2000 after being restrained at San Antonio's Laurel Ridge residential treatment center.
Randy's mother held up her son's autopsy photos Thursday for members of a legislative committee to see.
"I hope that no other child has to die like this," Holly Steele told the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services. "He wasn't the first, and he wasn't the last."
The committee went on to unanimously approve a measure that would place certain limits on restraints used in such facilities.
According to the Express-News, Senate Bill 59 prohibits the use of any restraint that would obstruct a person's airway, restrict the person's breathing by putting pressure on the diaphragm or chest, or interfere with the person's ability to communicate. The bill would ban the practice of placing people in seclusion while in a restraint.
The bill would require that a trained observer be present to supervise any restraints. The restraints could only be used for "short periods of time" and only as a last resort.
Senate Bill 59 would also establish a commission, with members from several state agencies, to develop rules for restraint and seclusion to apply to all state-licensed agencies.
The measure now moves to the full Senate for consideration.
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