Wednesday, the state had its opportunity to defend the Governor’s Rebalancing Initiative.
Director Casey was a rock star for community! Rick Starr, Acting Director at Murray was
also outstanding. The Arc appreciates their advocacy for everyone to be included in the

Today should be the final day of testimony. Mark Doyle and other advocates should testify.
The Judge will make his ruling in a couple of weeks. In my opinion, Murray will close and
rebalancing will continue in Illinois.

Free our people!

Thanks to Katherine Hamann for this report on the Murray trial.

Story from the Belleville News Democrat follows.


Murray Center trial: Is state ‘dead wrong’ to close
it or catching up with the times?


CHICAGO — The director of a day-activity center attended by more than 100 Murray
Center residents testified Wednesday the state is “dead wrong” in deciding to close the

But Kevin Casey, the head of the state office that oversees care for people with
developmental disabilities testified Illinois is “significantly behind the rest of the country” in
shifting those individuals from institutions to community-based group homes.

Greg Shaver, the director of the nonprofit Kaskaskia Workshop, testified that, in his opinion,
Centralia-based Murray is the best or second-best of the state’s institutions for people
with developmental disabilities.

“The state just got it dead wrong,” Shaver testified.

More than 100 Murray residents go to Kaskaskia Workshop for day programs.

Sherri Thornton-Pierce, an attorney for the plaintiffs who are trying to keep Murray open,
asked Shaver about the trend of placing people with developmental disabilities into
community-based group homes instead of institutions. Shaver, a psychologist, recalled how
he was involved decades ago in the case of a 51-year-old woman who was institutionalized
in the Springfield area because when the woman was 18, she enjoyed going out to dance —
which was viewed by the woman’s mother as a mental defect.

“Trends come, and thank God, some of them go,” Shaver said.

Under cross-examination, Shaver was questioned by Assistant Attorney General Thomas
Ioppolo about the involvement that Shaver himself, and his management company, have in
the operation of some group homes and community-based care centers in the Centralia area.

Shaver admitted that he considered developing a plan to open more group homes if Murray
closes, but the Murray Parent Association asked him to “hold off” on the plan. Shaver said the
parent group’s president told him “they’ve got a different plan.”

The state is trying to show that Murray parents and other supporters of the center are
throwing up roadblocks to other living options for Murray residents. For example, many parents
and guardians have refused to grant the state access to the residents’ medical files, thwarting
attempts to conduct assessments on what types of residential options would be appropriate
for each person.

Ioppolo brought up one email written by Shaver, in which he said the state will have “major
problems” if all of the parents and guardians of the roughly 240 Murray residents stick
together and refuse to cooperate in any transfer process.

Ioppolo asked if Kaskaskia Workshop stands to take a financial hit if Murray closes and its
residents end up scattered. Kaskaskia Workshop received about $2.84 million from the state
last year for providing its services.

Shaver said a financial impact to Kaskaskia is possible, but he believes closing Murray would
be a “huge disservice” to downstate Illinois, because the state would be left with only one other
state-operated developmental institution south of Kankakee.

Casey, director of the Illinois Department of Human Services’ Division of Developmental
Disabilities, testified that only Texas and California have more people in mental institutions than
Illinois. He said there were about 270,000 people nationwide in mental institutions in the
mid-1960s, compared to about 27,000 today.

“The professional research is overwhelming … that people do better in community programs,”
Casey testified.

Casey said even though the state in most cases prefers 2- or 4-bedroom group homes, and is
trying to move up to 600 people out of state institutions, the state will help guardians place their
loved ones in other state-operated institutions if that’s what the guardians and residents want.

“I’ve said that again and again and again, and I repeat it here,” Casey said.

He agreed that Illinois has a “secondary motive” in moving people from institutions to group homes.

“It’s no secret to anybody that the state of Illinois has a serious financial problem,” Casey said.

“Really?” replied Assistant Attorney General Marni Malowitz, drawing chuckles.

“If we don’t save a dime, we don’t save a dime, but our expectation is that we’ll save some money
here,” Casey said.

Casey said his office has about 25,000 Illinoisans receiving services, and roughly the same
number on a waiting list.

Rick Starr, the acting director of Murray Center, was called to testify by the plaintiff attorneys,
as an adverse witness. He testified he previously served as assistant director, and was given a
roughly 25 percent raise for taking on the responsibility of serving as a liaison between
Murray residents’ guardians and a contractor hired to conduct assessments on Murray residents
for transfer purposes.

Starr admitted he was unaware that one woman is both an employee of the contractor and a
founder of a group home.

“Would that strike you as odd?” asked plaintiff attorney Daniel Saeedi.

“I don’t know,” Starr replied.

Wednesday marked the second day of the proceeding in federal court in Chicago. The judge
has scheduled the proceeding to last three days, but will accept written arguments in the days
following. He’ll likely issue a decision in a few weeks.

The plaintiffs, led by the Murray Parent Association, argue that the rights of Murray Center
residents will be violated if the state closes Murray and other state-operated institutions for
the developmentally disabled. The plaintiffs say the state wants to put all people with
developmental disabilities into group homes which are privately operated but publicly financed.
But some people have disabilities that are so profound, they can’t be cared for in a group home,
the plaintiffs argue.

The state says community-based group homes are a more modern way to care for most people
with developmental disabilities, and that most people prefer residing in a home rather than
an institution. The state argues that it has no plans to close all seven of its institutions, but that
it’s a state decision on whether to operate the institutions, not a federal court’s.

In addition, the state says placement in a group home instead of an institution saves the state
about $100,000 per year, allowing Illinois to spread its limited resources among a growing
number of developmentally disabled who need services.

Contact reporter Brian Brueggemann at or 239-2511.

Read more here:

Tony Paulauski
Executive Director
The Arc of Illinois
20901 S. LaGrange Rd. Suite 209
Frankfort, IL 60423
815-464-1832 (OFFICE)
815-464-1832 (CELL)