Justice Department Cracking Down On ADA Violators
Federal officials are adding two more states to their list of targets in a string of legal actions to ensure community living options for people with disabilities.
Briefs filed this week in Illinois and California bring the number of actions to 18 over the last year alleging that states are failing to provide community living options as required under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Specifically, in a brief filed supporting a lawsuit against Sacramento County, Calif., the Justice Department says that planned cuts to outpatient mental health services will put people at risk of institutionalization.
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Meanwhile in Illinois, the Obama administration is supporting efforts to gain class action status for a group of young adults with severe disabilities who lived in the community until age 21, but are facing forced institutionalization because of more limited adult options in the community.
Under the Obama administration, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division has made enforcement of the Supreme Court’s decision in Olmstead v. L.C. — which favored the option of living in the community whenever possible — a top priority. The government has filed suit against Georgia, Arkansas and New York on such matters. In addition to the briefs filed this week, the administration has also supported cases in Connecticut, North Carolina, Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
“Unnecessary institutionalization deprives individuals of the opportunity to live their lives as they choose,” said Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division. “The department is committed to ensuring that community-based services are provided to enable individuals with disabilities to live fully integrated lives in their communities.”
The moves come ahead of the 20th anniversary of the ADA on Monday.