Code of the District of Columbia

§ 7–1305.10. Mistreatment, neglect or abuse prohibited; use of restraints; seclusion; “time-out” procedures.

(a) Mistreatment, neglect or abuse in any form of any person shall be prohibited. The routine use of all forms of restraint shall be eliminated. Physical or chemical restraint shall be employed only when absolutely necessary to prevent a person from seriously injuring himself or herself, or others. Restraint shall not be employed as a punishment, for the convenience of staff or as a substitute for programs. In any event, restraints may only be applied if alternative techniques have been attempted and failed (such failure to be documented in the person’s record) and only if such restraints impose the least possible restriction consistent with their purposes. Each facility shall have a written policy defining:

(1) The use of restraints;

(2) The professionals who may authorize such use; and

(3) The mechanism for monitoring and controlling such use.

(b) Only professionals designated by the Director may order the use of restraints. Such orders shall be in writing and shall not be in force for over 12 hours. A person placed in restraint shall be checked at least every 30 minutes by staff trained in the use of restraints and a written record of such checks shall be kept.

(c) Mechanical restraints shall be designed for minimum discomfort and used so as not to cause physical injury to the person. Opportunity for motion and exercise shall be provided for a period of not less than 10 minutes during each 2 hours in which restraint is employed.

(d) Seclusion, defined as a placement of a person alone in a locked room, shall not be employed. Legitimate “time-out” procedures may be utilized under close and direct professional supervision as a technique in behavior-shaping programs. Each facility shall have a written policy regarding “time-out” procedures.

(e) Alleged instances of mistreatment, neglect or abuse of any person shall be reported immediately to the Director and the Director shall inform the person’s counsel, parent or guardian who petitioned for the commitment, and the person’s advocate for a person with an intellectual disability of any such instances. There shall be a written report that the allegation has been thoroughly and promptly investigated (with the findings stated therein). Employees of facilities who report such instances of mistreatment, neglect, or abuse shall not be subjected to adverse action by the facility because of the report.

(f) A person’s counsel, parent or guardian who petitioned for commitment and a person’s intellectual disability advocate shall be notified in writing whenever restraints are used and whenever an instance of mistreatment, neglect or abuse occurs.


(Mar. 3, 1979, D.C. Law 2-137, § 510, 25 DCR 5094; Sept. 26, 1995, D.C. Law 11-52, § 506(u), 42 DCR 3684; Sept. 26, 2012, D.C. Law 19-169, § 17(oo), 59 DCR 5567; May 5, 2018, D.C. Law 22-93, § 201(c)(39), 65 DCR 2823.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 6-1970.

1973 Ed., § 6-1690.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 7-1305.12.

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 (e) and (f).

Emergency Legislation

For temporary amendment of section, see § 402(h) of the Omnibus Budget Support Emergency Act of 1995 (D.C. Act 11-44, April 28, 1995, 42 DCR 2217) and § 506(u) of the Omnibus Budget Support Congressional Review Emergency Act of 1995 (D.C. Act 11-124, July 27, 1995, 42 DCR 4160).

Temporary Legislation

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

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.