Restraint - Juvenile Justice Facilities

Florida’s Department of Juvenile Justice Refers to Restraints as Protective Action Response (PAR).

In Florida, an individual who is court ordered to a juvenile justice facility can only be restrained to control behaviors that create an emergency or crisis situation. Protection Action Response (PAR) means “The department­approved verbal and physical intervention techniques and the application of mechanical restraints used in accordance with Florida Administrative Code. Any form of     physical restraint requires that staff obtain prior authorization for the use of intervention techniques and mechanical restraints from  a supervisor or acting supervisor unless doing so could result in physical harm to the youth, employee or another person, property damage, or of the youth escaping or absconding from lawful supervision. PAR has three levels of response:

  • Level 1 ­- Verbal intervention.
  • Level 2 -­ Physical intervention techniques may encompass the use of touch, countermoves, control techniques or take down.
  • Level 3 -­ Mechanical restraint.

It’s important to remember that every effort should be made by staff to avoid unnecessary use of physical interventions or mechanical restraint, and therefore staff should try to redirect and diffuse problem behavior before it reaches crisis proportions.

Each facility or provider has developed its own policies and procedures related to the use of physical interventions or mechanical restraint. If you want to know what they are, ask the facility administration for a copy.

PAR Techniques

PAR was authorized by the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) and each provider submits a plan on what techniques they will use in their program.  The techniques can include those listed below. The Assistant Secretary of Staff Development and training or designee will approve the matrix of each provider.  PAR techniques include the following:

  • Reactionary gap
  • Danger Zone
  • Interview Stance
  • Ready Stance
  • Approach
  • High Block
  • Mid­range –Straight Arm Blows
  • Mid­range­ - Roundhouse Blows
  • X Block Leg Raise
  • Evasive Sidestep
  • Wrist Releases
  • Front Coke Releases
  • Bite Escape
  • Headlock Escape
  • Full Nelson Escape
  • Double Arm Lock Escape
  • Straight Arm Escort
  • Supportive Hold stage 1
  • Ground Control
  • Basket Hold
  • Arm Bar
  • Arm Control
  • Supportive Hold Stage 2 & 3
  • Straight Arm to a Takedown
  • Basket hold to a takedown
  • Arm Bar to a takedown
  • Wrap around to a Team Takedown
  • Supportive hold to a Takedown
  • Immediate Team Takedown
  • Mechanical restraints
  • Search
  • Wrap around control
  • Handcuffs and leg cuffs

PAR Process

Requirements for Use of Protective Action Response (PAR)

Each Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) facility or provider must have policies and procedures related to the use of PAR that follows the standards outlined in the Florida Administrative Code. Each provider will have an approved list of holds or techniques they can use called a “Matrix”. This Matrix is the authorized list of holds the DJJ facility or provider can use on a youth.

Staff Requirements for Use of PAR

PAR can only be used by an authorized staff that is certified in PAR and has passed the state performance test. Staff must be trained in using an emergency procedure curriculum that has been approved by DJJ.

Use of the PAR for Assessing Appropriate Intervention Techniques

DJJ facility staff or provider use the PAR Escalation Matrix for guidance in selecting the level of technique they can use based upon the youth’s level of resistance. Then staff begins by using verbal interventions listed below:

  • Level 1 ­ Verbal intervention shall be utilized in response to all levels of resistance by youth. Verbal intervention techniques shall be the initial response by an employee to resistance by a youth except where physical interventions are necessary to prevent physical harm to the youth, employee or another person, property damage, or of the youth escaping or absconding from lawful supervision.
  • Level 2 ­ Verbal attempts to diffuse a youth or situation have been exhausted, and the youth has initiated active, combative, or aggravated resistance. There will be no physical intervention for passive resistance without a clear and identifiable risk to safety and security. Physical intervention techniques may encompass the use of touch, countermoves, control techniques or take down as described in the Florida Administrative Code
  • Level 3 ­ Mechanical restraint. The use of mechanical restraints is authorized in situations where a youth has initiated active, combative or aggravated resistance and in situations where the youth poses a physical threat to self or others.

Staff will provide complete documentation of the event including medical status, incident report, matrix of events, and staff notes. The Program Director or their designee will review the documentation for accuracy procedure compliance.

Prohibited Procedures

The Department authorizes the following mechanical restraints within the facility: handcuffs, leg restraint, restraint belt, soft restraints and waist chain. There are two authorized methods that can be used for handcuffs “in front of the youth and behind the youth”. All facilities except for low risk shall use mechanical restraints to transport youth. Low risk facilities can use handcuffs and leg cuffs if the youth is assessed as a security risk.

No more than two youth can be chained or handcuffed together. Pregnant youth must be handcuffed in the front.

The Florida Administrative Code prohibits authorization of the use of:

  • Taser on a youth;
  • Aerosol or chemical agents, including but not limited to oleoresin capsicum spray;
  • Ammonia capsules, unless required for medical treatment of the youth by a licensed medical professional;
  • Mechanical restraints including neck restraints, restraint chair, and the securing of youth to a fixed object are prohibited;
  • Waist chain or restraint belt prohibits the hand of the youth to be in the back; and
  • Leg and waist chains are prohibited on pregnant youth.

Supervision of youth in mechanical restraints requires:

  • Youth must at no time be without constant, full, and direct visual supervision by an employee.
  • Youth are not allowed to be on upper bunks.
  • Staff are required to verbally explain to the youth why the mechanical restraints were placed on him/her and when they can be removed.
  • Every 10 minutes circulation checks are documented in the supervisor’s log.  
  • 30 minutes after the youth remains in restraints the supervisor shall interview the youth to determine if they can be released. This must be documented in the supervisor’s log. Any extension must be authorized by the Superintendent, the Residential Director, or the designee.
  • After 60 to 120 minutes of youth restraint, the Superintendent, Residential Director, or designee must get licensed medical and or mental health professional authorizations for additional restraint time.


Every facility or program should have a complaint process in place to investigate complaints made by a youth in the facility or by a parent, guardian, family member, friend or other interested individual.  Sometimes this is called a “grievance” procedure.

If you believe that a person has been unjustly restrained, or secluded in a manner that violated the person’s rights you may also contact:

  • Florida Abuse Hotline 1-800-962-2873, and/or
  • Florida Department of Juvenile Justice Incident and Complaint Hotline 1-800-355-2280
  • Disability Rights Florida  1-800-342-0823, and/or