Michigan to ban youth facility restraints after death of 16-year-old Cornelius Frederick

Three former Lakeside Academy employees have been criminally charged in last April's death of Frederick, who had thrown a sandwich.

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The state of Michigan will ban the use of restraints at all state-run youth facilities after the death of 16-year-old Cornelius Frederick.

The teen was in a residential treatment center for at-risk youth in Kalamazoo, Michigan called Lakeside Academy when, according to reports, on April 29, 2020, seven male staff members held him down and put weight on his torso and legs to restrain him for more than 10 minutes after he threw a sandwich at another child.

He died two days later at a local hospital.

Three former Lakeside Academy employees have been charged with involuntary manslaughter and child abuse in last April’s death of Cornelius Frederick, 16. (NBC News)

His caseworker, Meghan Folkerson told NBC News she is “still angry” about Frederick’s death. “I think that everyone is allowed and going to be angry at this death,” she said, “because it was preventable. It was uncalled for.”

A state task force was organized last year and has determined that restraints on children should be banned “in all but the most extreme circumstances, such as to save a child’s life.”

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There will also be other measures enacted aimed to reduce the number of children in group homes and to strengthen oversight of children in state care.

“The state is entrusted with the care and safety of kids after they’ve been abused and neglected,” said Stacie Bladen, director of children’s services at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. “We have an absolute responsibility to keep them safe while they’re in our care and custody.”

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Sequel is the private firm that operates juvenile care for at-risk, foster and children with disabilities in 19 states. In 2020, three states including Michigan ended their relationships with the company.

In a statement, company officials said that some states, “influenced by political and activist pressure, have prioritized perception over the best possible care for the individual.”

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They maintain that they “remain steadfast” in providing compassionate care for children and declared their services “essential and operating at, or exceeding, their highest standards.”

Three former Lakeside Academy employees have been charged with involuntary manslaughter and child abuse in the case of Frederick’s death, which was ruled a homicide. All have pleaded not guilty.

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