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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

Restraint and Seclusion in the 113th Congress

Force Is Not Recovery 2012 protest signNCIL remains committed to advocating for federal legislation that will regulate the use of restraint and seclusion in school settings. We continue to work with several coalitions and with Congressional leaders in both the House and Senate to achieve this goal in the 113th Congress. Soon, we will need you to contact your legislators in order to garner their support for the bills.

In the 112th Congress, bills were introduced in the Senate by Tom Harkin (D-IA and Chair of the Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee) and in the House by George Miller (D-CA and Ranking Member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee). Both leaders have returned for the 113th Congress and remain dedicated to the work to end this horrible practice and institute safe processes, such as positive behavioral and intervention supports (PBIS).

The advocacy work around ending restraint and seclusion has created a “buzz” in the press.

Last year, Senator Harkin introduced us to Sheila Foster when he called her as a witness in a full hearing of the Senate HELP Committee. Foster lost her son, Corey Foster, on April 18, 2012 at a New York state-funded school. Corey was restrained by 4-5 school employees who “piled on his back and held him down”. He suffocated and died. Sheila Foster has vowed to end this barbaric treatment. She has started a petition to stop restraint and seclusion and has appeared on the national news to publicize her goal. The petition currently has 2,198 signatories and a goal to collect 10,000. 

The Judge Rotenberg Center (JRC) of Massachusetts has also been in the news. Several local and national segments about their electric shock treatment have appeared on multiple networks, as well as a few editorials in national papers. This has prompted Massachusetts Democratic State Senator Brian Joyce to ask the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for a ban on “skin shock devices”. The FDA has announced that it will conduct a hearing with JRC representatives in three to four weeks about the use of electric shock on students with disabilities.

NCIL joined our fellow members of The Alliance to Prevent Restraint, Aversive Interventions and Seclusion (APRAIS) Coalition in signing a letter sent to the US Department of Education and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (PDF) requesting “the immediate and complete cessation of funding for the Center considering the US Food and Drug Administration’s recent Warning Letter dated December 6, 2012.” On that date, the FDA sent a third warning letter to JRC “for violations of FDA regulations due to its ongoing modifications to the Graduated Electronic Decelerators”.

For more information on this work, please contact Dara Baldwin, NCIL Policy Analyst, at [email protected].


  1. Deidre Hammon says

    PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE! We do not want to regulate seclusion! We want to END SECLUSION and regulate restraint. Seclusion is not effective, and is infact, dangerous as hell. Dan Habib is making a new movie that should be out this summer on the issue of seclusion. Please watch for it. Do some research. We have to stop the torture of children in America with disabilities just because they go to school and wind up in a classroom with a closet. It is never, never OK to put a child in seclusion. And according to research I have seen in Nevada, students with autism and emotional disabilities are more likely to find their programs housed in a room with a closet. A closet that may have been built with school funds, which is likely not built to code, and which quite frequently has inadequate air exchange. PLEASE rewrite your position statement to END seclusion and regulate restraint.