Summary: S.1965 — 114th Congress (2015-2016)All Information (Except Text)

There is one summary for S.1965. Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Introduced in Senate (08/05/2015)

Maintaining dignity and Eliminating unnecessary Restrictive Confinement of Youths Act of 2015 or the MERCY Act

Amends the federal criminal code to prohibit the use of room confinement at a juvenile facility for discipline, punishment, retaliation, or any reason other than as a temporary response to a covered juvenile's behavior that poses a serious and immediate risk of physical harm to any individual, including such juvenile.

Defines: (1) "room confinement" as the involuntary placement of a juvenile alone in a cell, room, or other area; and (2) "covered juvenile" as a juvenile who is being proceeded against for an alleged act of juvenile delinquency or who has been adjudicated delinquent under such provisions, or who is being proceeded against as an adult in U.S. district court for an alleged criminal offense.

Requires a staff member of a juvenile facility: (1) before placing a covered juvenile in room confinement, to attempt to use less restrictive techniques, including talking with the juvenile in an attempt to de-escalate the situation; and (2) upon deciding to place such juvenile in room confinement, to inform the juvenile of the reasons for the confinement and that release will occur immediately when the juvenile regains self-control or otherwise within either 3 hours if the juvenile poses a serious and immediate risk of physical harm to others or 30 minutes if the juvenile poses a risk of physical harm only to himself or herself.

Requires that if a covered juvenile continues to pose a serious and immediate risk of physical harm after the applicable maximum period of confinement has expired: (1) the juvenile shall be transferred to another juvenile facility or internal location where services can be provided without relying on room confinement; or (2) if a qualified mental health professional believes the level of crisis service needed is not currently available, a staff member of the juvenile facility shall initiate a referral to a location that can meet the juvenile's needs.

Prohibits the use of consecutive periods of room confinement to evade the spirit and purpose of this Act.