On Thursday March 25th Senators Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) and Christopher Dodd (D-CT) and U.S. Representatives Diana DeGette (D-CO), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Pete Stark (D-CA) will introduce legislation to regulate and monitor the use of restraints and seclusion in psychiatric facilities. A news conference on the legislation will be held at 11:30 a.m. in Room SC-4 of the Capitol.
The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) also will release separately a summary of abuse reports it has compiled since publication of the investigative series "Deadly Restraint" by The Hartford Courant in October 1998. The series surveyed 142 deaths around the country over the past decade that occurred during or shortly after restraints or seclusion were used. An estimate by the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis commissioned by the Courant indicated further that between 50 and 150 such deaths occur every year.
"Every report received represents a cry of anguish," declared NAMI Executive Director Laurie Flynn. "People are dying---including children. Unnecessary use and abuse of restraints and seclusion on persons with mental illnesses is a problem that will not go away. It is an urgent crisis. National standards must be adopted in order to prevent future tragedies."
NAMI's summary includes five deaths over the past five months in California, Florida, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. Other states in which incidents have been reported include Arizona, Connecticut, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, and Virginia.