Feds Say Problems Are Worse At State's Largest Institution
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 1, 2002
BUCKLEY, WASHINGTON--A new U.S. Department of Justice report shows that many of the troubles the department found at Rainier School in 1998 have continued or gotten worse over the past few years.
Rainier School, located west of Tacoma, is the state's largest institution housing 423 adults with developmental disabilities and employing 1,000 workers.
The DOJ report, written in July 2002, found a dramatic increase in assaults made on residents by other residents. The reviewer found that institution relies too heavily on what the report called "inhumane" restraint devices such as wrist-to-waist shackles and on medications to control mental illness without reliable information that those medications are needed.
The department also criticized the facility for not working hard enough to move people into the community.
State and institution officials responded by criticizing the report's author, Sue A. Gant, a psychologist hired by the Justice Department. Rainier's assistant superintendent, Jan Blackburn, defended the institution, saying that Dr. Gant's reputation for wanting to close institutions affected how she interpreted the information she received during her visits to Rainier.
If the conditions do not improve, the federal government could appoint someone to oversee the facility or it could seek a court injunction to close the institution.
The DOJ report comes as a legislative committee is looking at how feasible it is to keep open Rainier and the four other state-run institutions.
Last year a survey found that 80 of the 1,100 people currently in state institutions wanted to move out.
More details are available from this Tacoma Tribune story: