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Seventeen Groups Push State To Ban Prone Restraints
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
May 2, 2006

HARRISBURG, PENNSYLVANIA--Seventeen disability advocacy groups have asked Pennsylvania officials to ban the use of prone restraints -- those in which a person is held facedown -- in all community mental health programs and residential facilities that treat children and adults.

The call came in response to the February 4 death of 16-year-old Giovanni "Joey" Aletriz. The teenager, who had bipolar disorder and asthma, stopped breathing after he was restrained facedown for ten minutes by at least three staff members at SummitQuest Academy, a 129-bed juvenile residential treatment facility.

He was pronounced dead a short time later at a local hospital.

In a press release, the groups called the prone restraint "the deadliest form of restraint", noting that each year hundreds of people die while or after being restrained on their stomachs or chests. Because of the risks to the person being held, many social service and law enforcement agencies across the country have banned prone restraints or limited their use to specific emergency situations.

"Banning prone restraints will force the provider community to choose safer alternatives, which exist, to deal with a crisis situation," said Judy Banks, deputy director of Pennsylvania Protection and Advocacy, Inc.

Last month, the district attorney representing the county where Aletriz died said that autopsy results showed the 6-foot-1, 260-pound teen had an undiagnosed heart condition that might have contributed to his death. He said there was no reason to file criminal charges against the staff of SummitQuest because the restraint procedure had been approved by the state.

The groups calling for the ban include the Consumer Satisfaction Team Inc. of Philadelphia; The Arc of Pennsylvania; Mental Health Association in Pennsylvania; Mental Health Association of Allegheny County; Mental Health Association of Central Susquehanna Valley; Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania; Mental Health Association of Franklin and Fulton Counties; Mental Health Association of York County; The Advocacy Alliance; Milestones Community Healthcare, Inc.; NAMI Pennsylvania; PA Council on Independent Living; Parents Involved Network; Pennsylvania Mental Health Consumers Association; Speaking for Ourselves, Inc.; United Cerebral Palsy of Pennsylvania; Vision for Equality, and Pennsylvania Protection and Advocacy, Inc.

"Prosecutor Says No Charges Will Be Filed In Teen's Restraint Death" April 6, 2006 (Inclusion Daily Express)

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