The state of Texas reached a deal this week with the U.S. Department of Justice to fix civil rights violations at the state’s 13 institutions for people with disabilities.

Under the plan, the state will spend $112 million over the next five years to hire more than 1,000 new staff members and increase monitoring.

The settlement comes as a result of a threat last December from the Justice Department to sue the state over conditions at the facilities.

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Since then troubles in the facilities, which house more than 4,500 people, were again highlighted when cell phone videos revealed that staff members at a facility in Corpus Christi, Texas regularly forced residents to fight one and other.

Under the settlement, the state will hire 1,160 new caregivers, psychiatrists, pharmacists and dentists to staff the institutions, called “state schools.” Furthermore, the state must complete abuse investigations more quickly and provide better health care to residents. Independent monitors will be put in place to oversee the plan.

Even before reaching this agreement with the Justice Department, some changes were already put in place, state officials say.

“We’ve reduced the use of restraints, strengthened training of direct care workers and added hundreds of staff across the state,” said Addie Horn, commissioner of the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services. “Care for those in state schools is continually improving. We are committed to striving every day to make our programs safer and stronger.”

The settlement was already approved by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Now, it must go before the Texas legislature for final approval.


Previous stories on this topic:

Texas Nears Deal With Justice Department To Fix Violations At Institutions (May 14, 2009)

Videos Of Texas Institution ‘Fight Club’ Show Forced Fights, Employees Laughing (May 12, 2009)

Alleged ‘Fight Club’ Uncovered At Texas Institution (March 10, 2009)

House Of Horrors: Texas Institutions Deplorable (December 4, 2008)