I am pleased to report to you that the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed a brief opposing the Murray Parents Association Complaint in an attempt to keep the Murray Developmental Center open.
Simply stated, DOJ sides with Governor Quinn’s Rebalancing Initiative and contends there is nothing in the Americans with Disability Act integration mandate or case law that establishes a right to remain in any given institution. DOJ also states, “…in Olmstead, creating a right to institutionalization would turn the ADA and its integration mandate on its head and impermissibly create a new right under the ADA that was never intended by Congress.” Well said and this is exactly what Director Casey has been saying. Here is a link to the DOJ Brief.Attorney General Madigan wrote the states response to the Murray Lawsuit read the state’s position: States Argument on Murray Lawsuit.
More and more, I have had the real pleasure to connect with some of the people who have moved out of the Jacksonville Developmental Center and their families. Last week I met three women at The Arc Convention who moved from JDC . Their lives have changed dramatically and are getting better every day. One woman has reconnected with her mother. They all have their own bedrooms. They have choices about their lives! Check out their story: Going Home Illinois – Jennifer, Rachael & Dinah. The very same options are available to the individuals at Murray.
Dinah, Jennifer, Director Casey, Rachael, Tony and Teresa Garate at The Arc Convention.
A few weeks ago, I shared with you my thoughts about my recent visit to Murray. I was shocked at the institutional setting of Murray. As a result, I received some interesting communications from some Murray supporters condemning my visit to Murray. I find this somewhat confusing because I have been asked to visit Murray by so many other Murray supporters. Going only reinforced my beliefs in full inclusion for everyone.
There continues to be a lot of activity going on to keep the Murray Developmental Center open. Over the weekend, the Parent Association held a fundraiser to support the lawsuit they filed to stop the closure. Here is a link to the Murray Parents Association Complaint. It concerns me that so much time and effort would be put into keeping such an institutional setting open when the options being offered would better serve everyone at Murray. Just ask the women in the Going Home Video. In my opinion, those efforts offer a false sense of hope to families whose loved ones will be leaving Murray when it is shuttered. In Illinois and nationally, state institutions are closing at a rapid rate and will become extinct around 2025, according to national studies. The Governor has the authority to close state institutions in Illinois.
I keep asking myself, why not put those efforts into creating a fuller life in the community that Governor Quinn is offering?
The Arc’s Family Transition Project is willing to talk to individuals and guardians about opportunities in the community and transitioning out of state institutions. Just connect with Project Director Katherine Hamann. Katherine@TheArcofIL.org or 708/465-2827.
Tony Paulauski Executive Director
The Arc of Illinois
20901 S. LaGrange Rd. Suite 209
Frankfort, IL 60423