Advocates Claim State's Support Of Special Nursing Homes Violates
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
May 2, 2006
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS--Four advocacy groups and a legal firm have joined together in an attempt to get thousands of Illinois residents with mental illnesses out of nursing homes and into their own homes and apartments.
The groups filed a complaint in federal court on April 26 that expands an earlier lawsuit filed last summer against state officials on behalf of residents housed in privately run "institutions for mental diseases" (IMDs).
The suit alleges that the state officials, including Governor Rod Blagojevich, have violated the residents' federal rights under the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 by needlessly segregating and inappropriately warehousing them in restrictive settings, and failing to make sure they are provided with services in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs.
The expanded suit asks the court to order the state to develop community-based alternatives. It represents four current residents of IMDs, but seeks class action status so it would apply to others across the state.
According to state statistics, Illinois currently spends $160,000 million a year to make more then 5,000 beds available in 27 for-profit IMDs.
The amended complaint was filed by Access Living, the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, Equip for Equality, the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, and the Chicago office of the law firm Kirkland & Ellis.
"The nursing homes are making a huge profit on these places -- tens of millions of dollars [for] warehousing people who should be in the community," Benjamin Wolf, attorney for the ACLU, told the Chicago Tribune.
"Federal Court Asked to End Isolation of Illinois Residents with Mental Illnesses" (Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law)
Text of amended complaint: Williams v. Blagojevich