“In a psychiatric emergency, the response can be ad hoc and sometimes quite primitive. For example the Florida Parishes juvenile detention center still keeps a restraint chair in storage, in case a child becomes suicidal and nothing else can be done immediately. Before the center had the chair, which has not been used in four years according to a center manager, it used to rely on a football helmet to prevent suicidal juveniles from smashing their heads into the floor and walls.”
When I went to photograph the chair, the center manager showed me to the storeroom, where it was gathering dust next to a game of checkers and a hardback Jackie Collins novel. The chair will be outlawed in 2013 when new statewide standards come into effect although sadly, I don’t think the same can be said for the Jackie Collins novel.
The story, which also contains some remarkable statistical findings on overmedication, is live now at The Lens. I’m very grateful to all at The Lens and to everyone involved with the story who worked so hard to get it to publication. I never dreamed that I would be writing about such important issues when I started out in journalism and it really is a privilege to be working with so many people who care about this kind of thing just as much, if not more than, I do.