Code of the District of Columbia

§ 7–1305.05. Visitors; mail; access to telephones; religious practice; personal possessions; privacy; exercise; diet; medical attention; medication.

(a) Subject to restrictions by a physician for good cause, each person has the right to receive visitors of his or her own choosing daily. Hours during which visitors may be received shall be limited only in the interest of effective treatment and the reasonable efficiency of the facility, and shall be sufficiently flexible to accommodate the person needs of the person and his or her visitors. Notwithstanding the above, each person has the right to receive visits from his or her attorney, physician, psychologist, clergyman, social worker, parents or guardians, or advocate for a person with an intellectual disability in private at any reasonable time, irrespective of visiting hours, provided the visitor shows reasonable cause for visiting at times other than normal visiting hours.

(b) Writing material and postage stamps shall be reasonably available for the person’s use in writing letters and other communications. Reasonable assistance shall be provided for writing, addressing and posting letters and other documents upon request. The person shall have the right to send and receive sealed and uncensored mail. The person has the right to reasonable private access to telephones and, in case of personal emergencies when other means of communications are not satisfactory, he or she shall be afforded reasonable use of long distance calls. A person who is unable to pay shall be furnished such writing, postage, and telephone facilities without charge.

(c) Each person shall have the right to follow or abstain from the practice of religion. The facility shall provide appropriate assistance in this connection including reasonable accommodations for religious worship and/or transportation to nearby religious services. Persons who do not wish to participate in religious practice shall be free from pressure to do so or to accept religious beliefs.

(d) Each person shall have the right to a humane psychological and physical environment. He or she shall be provided a comfortable bed and adequate changes of linen and reasonable storage space, including locked space, for his or her personal possessions. A record shall be kept of each person’s personal possessions. Except when curtailed for reason of safety or therapy as documented in his or her record by a physician, he or she shall be afforded reasonable privacy in his sleeping and personal hygiene practices.

(e) Each person shall have reasonable daily opportunities for physical exercise and outdoor exercise and shall have reasonable access to recreational areas and equipment.

(f) Each person has the right to a nourishing, well-balanced, varied, and appetizing diet, and where ordered by a physician and/or nutritionist, to a special diet.

(g) Each person shall have the right to prompt and adequate medical attention for any physical ailments and shall receive a complete physical examination upon admission and at least once a year thereafter.

(h) All persons have a right to be free from unnecessary or excessive medication. No medication shall be administered unless at the written or verbal order of a licensed physician, noted promptly in the patient’s medical record and signed by the physician within 24 hours. Medication shall be administered only by a licensed physician, registered nurse or licensed practical nurse, or by a medical or nursing student under the direct supervision of a licensed physician or registered nurse, or by a Director acting upon a licensed physician’s instructions. The attending physician shall review on a regular basis the drug regimen of each person under his or her care. All prescriptions for psychotropic medications shall be written with a termination date, which shall not exceed 30 days. Medication shall not be used as a punishment, for the convenience of staff, as a substitute for programs, or in quantities that interfere with the person’s habilitation program.


(Mar. 3, 1979, D.C. Law 2-137, § 505, 25 DCR 5094; Sept. 26, 1995, D.C. Law 11-52, § 506(q), 42 DCR 3684; Sept. 26, 2012, D.C. Law 19-169, § 17(hh), 59 DCR 5567; May 5, 2018, D.C. Law 22-93, § 201(c)(32), 65 DCR 2823.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 6-1965.

1973 Ed., § 6-1685.

Effect of Amendments

The 2012 amendment by D.C. Law 19-169 substituted “individual” for “customer” or variants throughout the section; and substituted “advocate for a person with an intellectual disability” for “mental retardation advocate” in the last sentence of (a).

Emergency Legislation

For temporary amendment of section, see § 505(q) of the Multiyear Budget Spending Reduction and Support Emergency Act of 1994 (D.C. Act 10-389, December 29, 1994, 42 DCR 197).

Temporary Legislation

For temporary (225 day) amendment of section, see § 505(q) of Multiyear Budget Spending Reduction and Support Temporary Act of 1995 (D.C. Law 10-253, March 23, 1995, law notification 42 DCR 1652).

For temporary (225 day) amendment of section, see § 4(c) of Health-Care Decisions for Persons with Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Temporary Amendment Act of 2005 (D.C. Law 16-46, February 9, 2006, law notification 53 DCR 1454).

For temporary (225 day) amendment of section, see § 4(c) of Health-Care Decisions for Persons with Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Temporary Amendment Act of 2006 (D.C. Law 16-194, March 2, 2007, law notification 54 DCR 2492).

For temporary (225 day) amendment of section, see § 4(c) of Health-Care Decisions for Persons with Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Temporary Amendment Act of 2007 (D.C. Law 17-100, February 2, 2008, law notification 55 DCR 3407).

Editor's Notes

Section 35 of D.C. Law 19-169 provided that no provision of the act shall impair any right or obligation existing under law.