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Bill Expected To Prevent Future Group Home Slavery Problems
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
April 6, 2005

TOPEKA, KANSAS--The Kansas Senate and House last week unanimously passed a measure that would change which group homes must be licensed with the state.

Senate Bill 116 could be an important way for the state to avoid high-profile abuses cases like the one that hit the news last fall.

In October, federal agents arrested group home owners Arlan Kaufman, 68, and his wife, Linda, 61, and charged them with involuntary servitude. The couple had been under investigation related to charges that they had forced residents with mental illness at their Newton group home to perform tasks for them. Neighbors had reported that some residents were forced to work in the nude as punishment.

Forcing people to work against their will is illegal under Kansas law and the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Those who violate the law can be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison.

The Kaufmans managed to avoid monitoring by the state because current law does not require group homes with less than five people to be licensed.

SB 116 would require any group home with two or more residents to be licensed with the state. It also would give the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services the authority to shut down homes that failed to follow the law.

Governor Kathleen Sebelius is expected to sign the bill.

"This closes all the loopholes to prevent future Kaufman-type cases from cropping up," Rocky Nichols, director of the Disability Rights Center of Kansas, told the Associated Press.

Related:
"Group Home Operators Jailed On Slavery Charges" -- October 27, 2004 (Inclusion Daily Express)

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