Advocates Sue Illinois To Live In The Community
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
July 28, 2005
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS--Nine Illinois residents with developmental disabilities filed a class action lawsuit Thursday against state officials, accusing them of denying their federal rights to pursue meaningful and productive lives by warehousing them in institutions.
According to the complaint, filed in U.S. District Court, Illinois is confining more than 6000 people with developmental disabilities in about 250 large congregate care facilities known as "intermediate care facilities for people with developmental disabilities" (ICF/DDs). The suit accuses officials responsible for long-term care in the state of forcing people into such facilities rather than providing the services in the community, thereby violating the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and Title XIX of the Social Security Act.
Five of the plaintiffs currently live in institutions despite repeated requests to be placed in homes in the community. The other four currently live with family members, and are giving up necessary services to avoid being institutionalized.
"Plaintiffs can appropriately be served in settings that would integrate them into the community while still meeting their need for services and support," the 30-page suit reads. "Integration into the community benefits people of all levels of developmental disabilities; indeed, those with the most severe disabilities have been shown to achieve the most progress in the community."
"Most people with developmental disabilities prefer to live in a home that is integrated in the community, rather than an institution. In addition, community-based programs are cost-effective alternatives to large institutions such as ICF-DDs."
Plaintiff Stanley Ligas has been in a large institution for the past 12 years, even though he and his mother have requested many times for him to move into the community.
"I want to live with friends in a small house or apartment and have my own room," Ligas explained in a press statement. "I can do a lot of things on my own, and I want to be able to cook for myself."
The suit is asking the court to certify the suit as a class action, to acknowledge that state officials are violating federal laws, and to provide residential services in the community.
"As an organization comprised of people with disabilities, we know firsthand that community integration allows people to maintain relationships with their families, work, study, make friends, and share in the rights and responsibilities of American life," explained Marca Bristo, president & CEO of Access Living, one of four public interest agencies representing the plaintiffs.
"Segregation in large institutions not only denies people with disabilities these opportunities, but also stigmatizes them and reinforces the false notion that they are not worthy or able to participate in society."
"Illinois Residents Sue State for Violating Americans with Disabilities Act, Failing to Provide Community Services" (Equip For Equality)
Copy of complaint (Equip For Equality)