Kansas lawmakers urged to enact bill banning use of ‘prone’ position on teens

This week, lawmakers are making a last-ditch effort to resurrect a bill that would change how teenagers can be confined.

Senate Bill 504 in Kansas would prohibit the use of the “prone” position restraint on teenagers. That is, detaining a kid face down with an officer or police on top of them.

Activists and family relatives of Cedric Lofton allege the 17-year-old died in Sedgwick County custody in 2021 while being detained in the prone position in the Juvenile Intake and Assessment Center.

“I believe that what should be done is the obvious response. Cedric Lofton’s brother, Marquan Teetz, stated, “The position has been known to be deadly.”

However, time is running out to restrict the use of the prone restraint by authorities seeking to gain control of a teen in custody across the state.

“It isn’t over until sine die, or the session is completely over. We still have more debate to do. “There is still time for this bill to become law,” stated Wichita state senator Oletha Faust-Goudeau. “There are other ways to restrain a person other than using the prone position.”

According to Faust-Goudeau, the law is running out of time because it was never debated. And, this late in the Kansas legislative session, legislators are considering voting on proposals that have previously been debated in committee rather than allowing bills to be debated for the first time.

Other lawmakers are also advocating for the possibility of attaching Senate Bill 504 to another bill in order to get it enacted into law.

“It’s never too late in the legislature,” stated Representative John Carmichael (D-Wichita). “It seems like a good concept. It is undoubtedly a worthwhile idea to have hearings.”

Carmichael points out that the deadline for hearings on new measures has passed for this legislative session.

“The likelihood of scheduling another hearing is between slim and nil. “It won’t happen,” Carmichael said.

He also claims that lawmakers might have looked into what he describes as a common-sense plan far sooner.

“But to a layperson, it seems obvious that you should not hold a child in the prone position on the ground for 30 minutes,” Carmichael added.

Faust-Goudeau remains confident that Senate Bill 504 will be coupled with another measure and become law in 2024.

“Senate Bill 504 can certainly be included as a floor amendment,” said Faust-Goudeau. “It would have to go via law. Another bill that is relevant to what we are attempting to do here.”

“I don’t have a crystal ball, but everything is conceivable. Again, it all rests on advocacy and the desire to pass appropriate rules and processes,” explained Faust-Goudeau.

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