Posey straightjacket, Author Marc NL (PD)

Cornelius Fredericks, 16, started a food fight at a Michigan behavioral treatment facility, and wound up losing his life [1][2].

Lakeside Academy provides services to young adults either placed there by their parents or the foster care system.  Video from Lakeside shows Fredericks being restrained in the cafeteria by staff for around 8 minutes, before being given chest compressions, while unresponsive on the floor.  But portions of the video are missing.

Sequel Youth and Family Services, the owner of Lakeside Academy, admits that staff did not act in accord with the facility’s policy that restraint be employed as an emergency safety measure only when a student exhibits imminent danger to self or others.

Prosecutors say two staff members lay across Fredericks’ torso as they tried to restrain him.  Cornelius went into cardiac arrest, dying two days later at Bronson Methodist Hospital.

An investigation of the facility by the Michigan Dept. of Health and Human Services (MDHSS) concluded that staff employed restraint that was “significantly disproportionate” to Fredericks’ behavior.  Altogether, MDHHS found 10 licensing violations.  The agency has since terminated all contracts with Lakeside, and initiated the legal process to revoke the facility’s license.

Three facility staff members, Michael Mosley, 47, and Zachary Solis, 28, and Heather McLogan, 48, have been charged with involuntary manslaughter and child abuse.

Restraint Regulation

Society has grappled with the question of how much restraint is appropriate for those with mental and/or emotional difficulties [3].  The potential population includes not only children with behavioral issues, but adults and teens suffering from schizophrenia or other psychoses; the elderly suffering from dementia; and addicts of all ages.

The Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee (ISMICC) was created by the 21st Century Cures Act to ensure coordination across federal agencies relative to individuals with serious mental illness or emotional disorders and their families [4].

Alternatives to Restraint

The alternatives to restraint include the following [5]:

  • Consistency in staff and routines.
  • Ongoing explanation of procedures.
  • Limited number of staff in attendance on a patient.
  • Family members or volunteers present at “high risk” times.
  • Reduced noise levels.
  • Calm voice and soothing music.
  • Review of lighting levels to avoid misinterpretation of objects.
  • Distraction, i.e. diversionary activities.
  • Assessment and treatment of problems contributing to agitation, e.g. UTI or dehydration.
  • Individualized behavior management strategies.
  • Validation therapy (respectful and empathetic communication with those suffering from dementia).
  • Reminiscence therapy (structured intervention in which the elderly share past experiences with their peers).

Additional alternatives exist for those who are bedridden.

Situations that can change from moment to moment demand both sensitivity and judgment from professionals.  We should expect no less.

“…and they brought to Him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon-possessed, epileptics, and paralytics; and He healed them” (Matt. 4: 24).

[1]  CNN, “3 staff members charged after teen’s restraint death in Michigan have been released on bond” by Kristina Sgueglia, 7/1/20,

[2]  CNN, “Attorney releases video showing 16-year-old Cornelius Fredericks being restrained and given chest compressions later” by Mirna Alsharif, 7/8/20,

[3]  GovInfo, US Senate/Committee on Appropriations, “Deaths from Restraints in Psychiatric Facilities”, 4/13/99,

[4]  Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Laws and Regulations, Federal Laws Related to SAMHSA,

[5]   Bendigo Health, Loddon Mallee Regional Dementia Management Strategy, Alternatives to Restraint,



Filed under Child Abuse, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Religion, Sexual Abuse

31 responses to “Restraint

      • I know it is. When I was 14, long before PTSD became a psychiatric diagnosis, I had a PTSD breakdown and my parents put me in a state insane asylum — against my doctor’s advice. I was incarcerated there for nearly two years. The things I witnessed and experienced were so hard. Which is why it’s taking me such a long time to write my memoir. As you know, it’s not easy writing about childhood trauma.

      • That you survived at all is a miracle, Linda. ❤

      • God’s amazing grace is what saved me. He’s the only reason I am still here, singing and praising His name, more than half a century after I was released from that institution.

        Six years ago, my husband and I traveled back to the place where that asylum had stood. Built in the late 1800’s, it was the largest building in the state of Missouri, more than a mile in circumference. The institution was closed and torn down in the 1990’s.

        Standing on the empty green lawn where I had been held captive so long ago, along with thousands of other people, was surreal. I stood there and lifted my hands to the heavens in worship to the Lord. He is a wonderful Savior!

        And now, thanks to God setting me free from that horrible place in 1969, I have a daughter in Washington state who is a licensed therapist, and a granddaughter in New York who graduated from Harvard a few years ago with a Master’s degree, and is now halfway through a PhD program at Syracuse University.

        It really doesn’t matter how far down you fall — the Lord can lift you up to places you never imagined!

      • You are a courageous woman, Linda. His glory shines through you. ❤

  1. Apparently restraint was applied without restraint- at a behavior modifying center.

  2. Lack of education and abuse of power 😦 These jobs need high qualifications, including that of character and capacity for good judgment.

  3. This is happening all too often these days. Innocent people are dying through abusive staff. Guilty or not they have no right to kill them. Jesus cast out the demons from the afflicted so they could live in peace.

  4. Allan Halton

    To this day there is so little real understanding of this kind of illness.

  5. Francisco Bravo Cabrera

    Great post Anna. I always feel saddened and rather angry when I read about such actions that lead to an unnecessary death. I feel very strongly about the responsibility of police officers, or others that must, at some time or another, restrain civilians and do not execute such manoeuvres with the utmost care for the life of the individual to restrain. I cannot blame anyone, but I can say that my training (both in the Army and in the police force) included restraining techniques and I did apply them many times throughout the course of my career in the police department and in the Army as well. However, we was taught that you immediately resuscitate the prisoner/detainee, if he/she loses consciousness and if we were using a technique that requires several officers to subdue a very strong person or a person so much under the influence of cocaine or meth, that we would be in communication with each other so that we would know that the person was not hurt, at least not badly. Obviously the ultimate way to subdue someone who will not cooperate and who is a threat of violence to the officer or to others is to shoot him. There again, the responsibility is on the officer to immediately request ambulatory medical assistance. It is really sad to see and to learn that people still die needlessly at the hands of those who are restraining them wrongfully. However, in cases relating to police activity, I refuse to judge the officer until a complete investigation is finished and real results are to be had. Thank you Anna for another informative and insightful post.

    • Thank you for sharing your own experience, Francisco. I agree that we cannot judge such situations until a complete investigation has been conducted. It takes great courage for law enforcement officers to confront potentially violent offenders on behalf of the rest of of us. Hindsight is 20-20.

  6. Pingback: anna waldherr’s ‘restraint.’ | lovehappinessandpeace

  7. This is awful but things like this happen too often. These sorts of jobs should be for qualified people who have been screened.. I mean working in a care home and places like that involves long shifts and minimum wage. Maybe if jobs like these were higher paying, people would take more pride in their work and you wouldn’t get evil people who want to have power over others.

    • I agree that such positions deserve higher paid. But evil is not governed by pay scale. Many people are extremely dedicated in these often thankless positions, despite the low pay scale. Unfortunately, those w/ evil intentions seek out situations which allow them to gain power over others.

  8. This is such a tragedy and to be honest hard to believe. This is a young teenager and he was in a food fight. If someone is in a straight jacket, really how much damage can they do with their feet if there are three adults holding him down. Also eight minutes seems like a small amount of time to go from throwing food to being dead. Regardless of what happen this is a tragic loss of life and it just seems extreme. If a person is on their chest how can you see if they are breathing etc.

    I think it is great that you are bringing these issues up so that people can be aware of alternatives methods and hopefully ways to prevent the death of a child. I can’t imagine how I would feel if this were my child. How many lives ruined by this tragic event. Thank you Anna for educating us about this. Hopefully there is training available for Mental Health employees to avoid this in the future. Love you, Joni

  9. When portions of a video are missing, someone doesn’t want us to see everything that happened.

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