Paper Praises Advocacy Office For Olmstead Work
February 27, 2004
HAMPTON ROADS, VIRGINIA--A brief editorial in Thursday's Virginian-Pilot praised the work of the Virginia Office of Protection and Advocacy in helping people with mental disabilities to move from institutions.
In 2002, the agency took over certain advocacy duties that had been the responsibility of the former Department for Rights of Virginians with Disabilities. Advocates had pushed for the change in order to have a government watchdog independent of the governor and the attorney general's office.
The paper specifically commended the agency for pushing the state Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse to disclose the names of 70 to 120 people who are currently held in institutions despite being deemed ready for discharge. The agency wanted the information to find out if the state is helping those people move out as quickly as possible.
A federal judge recently ordered the state to turn over those names.
"The result is a clear example of how an independent protection office, backed by strengthened federal laws and support from federal courts, can elevate the disabled to a primary state concern," the editorial read.
"This is how the system ought to work."
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1999, in Olmstead v. L.C. & E.W., that states violate the rights guaranteed under the Americans with Disabilities Act when they house people with mental disabilities in institutions unnecessarily.
"Editorial: Watchdog for disabled has bark and bite" (Virginian-Pilot)
"Editorial: Mental health watchdog bares its teeth -- February 3, 2004" (Virginian-Pilot)