The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services announced on Thursday that dangerous restraints on children in youth detention centers will be banned.
The policy change comes three months after a Black teen died in April after being pinned to the floor for throwing a sandwich. Cornelius Fredericks, 16, went into cardiac arrest after seven staff members restrained him.
Any restraint that prohibits a child from breathing, including prone restraints, is immediately prohibited, according to the Detroit Free Press, and requires notification to families within 12 hours and MDHHS within 24 hours, if restraint is used.
“The change here is about more than addressing particular bad actors,” MDHHS Director Robert Gordon said to reporters on a call Thursday. “It is about transforming a system so that we treat the young people in institutional settings with the same compassion and care that we want for our own children.”
Fredericks was restrained back on April 29 for allegedly throwing a sandwich. Employees of the detention center placed their weight on his chest for about 12 minutes, despite the boy yelling that he couldn’t breathe, until he lost consciousness. Frederick died two days later at a hospital.
The Kalamazoo County Medical Examiner ruled Frederick’s cause of death a homicide, and three staff members were charged with involuntary manslaughter and second-degree child abuse for his death.