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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Illinois Murray Center for the developmentally disabled is not a homey place: Letters to the Editor

BND.COM: Opinion> Letters to the Editor : January 19, 2014 

The courts are about to make an important decision on whether the residents of Murray Center will have the choice to live with the freedom and opportunity most of us take for granted.
It was heartbreaking to listen to the closing argument from attorneys hired by proponents of keeping Murray open and to hear the characterization of the individuals at Murray as helpless with little or no hope for a full life in the community. It pained me to hear of people being confined to a life of institutionalization for 25 years and more. It saddened me to listen to the attack on the process of person-centered planning and small individualized living arrangements for those with disabilities.
The depiction of Murray as a home is grossly unjust to those individuals. I have been to Murray. It is one of the most institutional environments I have ever seen. We can do better. The state's commitment to offering people with disabilities the opportunity to experience life in the community is commendable. Opposition to this great initiative is impossible for me to comprehend.
The Murray lawsuit, in my opinion, is upside down. The plaintiffs are arguing that the Governor's Rebalancing Initiative is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This perspective flies in the face of Olmstead, the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act and federal policy that is moving away from the institutionalization of people with disabilities.
It is time to close Murray and move on to building inclusive community supports throughout Illinois.
Tony Paulauski, Executive Director
The Arc of Illinois
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