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Georgia settles ADA suit over confinement of people with disabilities

October 19th, 2010

From the Los Angeles Times, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, AP/New York Times:

In a decision that is being hailed as a historic step toward enforcing the rights of people with disabilities, the state of Georgia has reached an agreement with the Justice Department to move many people with mental illness or developmental disabilities out of state psychiatric hospitals and into their communities.

The agreement, which settles a lawsuit alleging that the state was engaging in illegal segregation of people with disabilities, follows a federal investigation that found an “alarming frequency” of preventable deaths, suicides and assaults in the hospitals. From the LA Times:

As part of the agreement, Georgia will stop admitting people with developmental disabilities, such as Down syndrome and autism, into its state hospitals by July 1, 2011. The state will move all developmentally disabled patients from state hospitals to “community settings” by July 1, 2015.

The state must also expand community-based services for about 9,000 mentally ill patients.

“This is a monumental step forward for people with mental illness,” said C. Talley Wells, an attorney with the Atlanta Legal Aid Society, one of a number of advocacy groups that worked with the Justice Department under friend-of-the-court status. “No longer will people be confined in a state hospital who could be living much fuller lives in the community.”

2 Responses to “Georgia settles ADA suit over confinement of people with disabilities”

  1. disaboo Says:

    More chilling is the willing to validate the medical industry’s assessment of “disability” – easily violating the ADA legislation with the stroke of a pen.

    Apparently there are no funds to protect jobs – to find a “willing” employer is virtually impossible. I’ve read many times that the federal government hires “disabled” – what does that mean?, what are these jobs?, will I still be denied from unemployment “benefits”, what type of “disability” do they hire?, will I have to still have to pay back my “benefit”? who will pay for a Schedule A? how can I protect my job? will I still have to give up my home to get a job?

    There are no people in government that cannot see that this horrendous (and costly) discrimination can happen to them.

    We just keep ourselves locked into the abject poverty – never trying to help another. Let’s keep being hearded into more horrendous living conditions, so a very, very few will profit from our lives. Let’s just browbeat a celebrity for what she says, instead of what is NOT being said.

    Where is the information? Is anyone in charge?

  2. Rebecca Underwood Says:

    This settlement mandates that individuals with the most profound level of developmental disability and mental retardation, many also medically fragile, must leave the setting that has been carefully and thoughtfully chosen by their families as the best setting for their mentally incompetent loved one. It is nothing less than bone-chilling that our government has decided to turn their back on those individuals with the severest disabilities by not allowing states to provide that care. By requiring / mandating that all individuals with developmental disability must relocate, this settlement flies in the face of the Olmstead decision which clearly provides a choice between institutional or community based services by recognizing that on a case-by-case basis the most integrated setting for an individual may be an institution.

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More than 50 million people in the United States have disabilities, a number that is growing rapidly as the population ages. Experts say disability will soon affect the lives of most Americans. This website attempts to aggregate news and commentary about disability, and to document the efforts of people who are seeking new ways to address familiar challenges.

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