Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed legislation Thursday to improve conditions at that state’s troubled institutions for people with disabilities.

The emergency legislation comes following the discovery of a “fight club” at one facility and a threat by the U.S. Department of Justice to sue Texas over conditions at its 13 institutions for people with disabilities.

The new legislation will require surveillance cameras to be installed in common areas and background checks and drug testing for employees. Further, the state will appoint an assistant commissioner to oversee the facilities and create an ombudsman’s office with a hotline for people to report misconduct. Employees who do abuse or neglect residents will face stiffer penalties.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Under the legislation, the institutions, which have been known as state schools, will now be called state supported living centers.


Previous stories on this topic:

Texas Strikes Deal With Feds To Make Changes At Institutions (May 22, 2009)

Alleged “Fight Club” Uncovered At Texas Institution (March 10, 2009)

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