• Saved from death by I.Q.?
  • Supreme Court to take up ergonomics under ADA
  • Journalist highlights 'self-determination'
  • CA bill to close institutions advances
  • HMO giant to become accessible; lawsuit settled
  • Disabled students to protest Garrett decision in April 17 action
  • Groups condemn Dutch "mercy killing" law
  • Mom to be tried for murdering daughter
  • Schools to be penalized on education ruling
  • Washington Lawmakers put $8 million to implement Olmstead decision
  • Report gauges states' progress implementing Olmstead decision
    Saved from death by I.Q.?
    by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
    April 20, 2001

    This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express Email News Service.

    GREENSBORO & GASTONIA, NORTH CAROLINA--In two separate cases this week, two men were spared the death penalty in part because they may have mental retardation.

    On Monday, William Anthony Shown, 26, admitted raping and stabbing Hazel Rollins Moore inside her home on July 21, 1997, then setting the home on fire to hide the evidence. At his attorney's recommendation, Shown pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, first-degree rape, breaking and entering, and first-degree arson. The move helped him avoid the death penalty, but he was sentenced to 89 years and one month in prison without the possibility of parole.

    "Basically we were trying to save this guy's life," said defense attorney Bill Causey, who said Shown had "mental abilities ranging from those of a third- to fifth-grader".

    "It's the best we could have hoped for," he added.

    In a separate case on Thursday, a Gaston County Superior Court judge temporarily halted the execution of convicted murderer Larry Darnell Williams, who was scheduled to die next Friday.

    Williams has been on death row for 21 years for shooting to death Gaston County gas station attendant Eric Ross Joines in 1979. Four suspects were arrested for the crime, but one was acquitted and two others received reduced sentences after testifying against Williams.

    Defense and prosecution attorneys acknowledge that Williams received a score of 69 on IQ tests in 1979. Many experts claim a score of 70 or below indicates mental retardation. The prosecution says the jury that convicted Williams knew about his IQ score before they convicted and sentenced him to die.

    A hearing in the Williams case is scheduled for July 2.

    Supreme Court to take up ergonomics under ADA
    by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
    April 19, 2001

    This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express Email News Service.

    The U.S. Supreme Court decided on Monday to hear arguments in two separate cases having to do with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The cases would be heard this fall, and decisions would likely come in 2002.

    The first case is that of Ella Williams, a former paint inspector at a Toyota plant in Kentucky. Williams claims she developed carpal tunnel syndrome which is a painful wrist condition caused by doing certain tasks over and over again.

    Toyota says it offered Williams a different job, but Williams turned it down saying it still included some manual labor that she was not able to do.

    The high court will be asked to decide whether her carpal tunnel syndrome is an isolated injury, as Toyota claims, or if it is an impairment of a "major life activity" as defined by the ADA.

    The second case involves Robert Barnett, a former US Airways baggage handler from San Francisco who injured his back while on the job. At his doctor's suggestion, Barnett was reassigned to the mail room. The company later told Barnett that, according to company policy, he would have to give up the job to make room for another employee who had more seniority.

    Barnett sued claiming the company had not given him a reasonable accommodation. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with Barnett that workers with disabilities should have priority over more senior workers who do not have disabilities.

    Journalist highlights 'self-determination'
    by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
    This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express Email News Service.

    The April 23 edition of U.S. News and World Report features two brief. positive articles on self-determination.

    Both stories were written by Joseph P. Shapiro, author of the highly-rated 1994 book "No Pity: People With Disabilities Forging a New Civil Rights Movement".

    In the first article, Shapiro introduces the concept of self-determination and gives examples of how people are using its principles to come up with creative community living options: "WHY THERE'S REALLY NO PLACE LIKE HOME" http://www.usnews.com/usnews/issue/010423/care.htm

    The second story focuses on Jack Rosimos, a man who spent most of his life in an institution but who now lives in his own home and has started his own business: "THE HELPING HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT"

    Shapiro also reported on self-determination during National Public Radio's news program "All Things Considered".

    Here is the web page from All Things Considered: http://www.npr.org/programs/atc/features/2001/apr/010416.selfdetermination.html

    The RealAudio version of the 12 1/2 minute piece is available from this address: http://www.npr.org/ramfiles/atc/20010416.atc.06.ram

    CA bill to close institutions advances
    by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
    April 13, 2001

    This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express Email News Service.

    SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA--Last week, a bill that would phase out California's five institutions, known as developmental centers, was approved by the Assembly Human Services Committee.

    California's community-based service system serves about 170,000 people at an average cost of $11,700 a year per person. The state also houses 3,800 Californians in five developmental centers, at an average of $166,753 a year per person. In other words, the state spends about 25 percent of its developmental disabilities budget on 2 percent of the people it serves.

    Assembly Bill 896, written by Assemblywoman Dion Aroner, would unify the system by transferring resources from the expensive, out-dated institutions and use it to develop homes in the community and to improve pay for direct support staffs working in the community. If it is approved as written, the moves could begin as early as 2003.

    The measure is being opposed by the state employee's union and the association of parents whose children are currently housed at the developmental centers.

    Columnist Terry Boisot, whose son has disabilities, testified before the committee last week in support of the bill. Her Tuesday column in the Santa Barbara NewsPress included her testimony.

    You can read a simplified text of AB 896 at the Oaks Group website: http://www.oaksgroup.org/ab896

    HMO giant to become accessible; lawsuit settled
    Oakland, CA April 13, 2001 -- The HMO giant Kaiser Permanente announced yesterday that it had settled a class-action lawsuit brought last year by the Oakland-based firm Disability RIghts Advocates by agreeing to make its examination tables, mammography machines and other equipment and facilities accessible to people in wheelchairs and with other disabilities. The suit had charged that the HMO gave disabled people inferior medical service by failing to provide access.

    "The agreement with Kaiser provides a comprehensive blueprint that could be used by any health provider anywhere in the country," said DRA attorney Sid Wolinsky. "We intend to use this as a template to present to other major health-care providers, to urge that they, too, adopt this approach."

    A story on the settlement is in today's New York Times (reqistration required; link may expire).
    More on access to medical services

    Disabled students to protest Garrett decision in April 17 action

    Disabled students mobilizing in the wake of the Feb. 21 Supreme Court Garrett decision have formed the National Disabled Students Union; on April 17, the anniversary of the 1960 founding of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), NDSU is calling for students and others across the nation to participate in a national "Leave Out": disabled students and "allies" "will leave their schools and places of business "to remind the government that when business as usual means discrimination, we want no part of it."

    The events are slated to take place at a concurrent time nationwide -- 1 p.m. Eastern Time, noon Central Time, 11 a.m. Mountain Time and 10 a.m. Pacific Time.

    "SNCC became a major civil rights force in the United States, but the legacy of SNCC and other civil rights groups is being eroded by a Supreme Court insistent on weakening our rights in the name of 'states' rights,'" says the National Disabled Students Union in a statement.

    "The people's right to equality comes before the states' right to discriminate," says the NDSU's website at http://www2.uic.edu/stud_orgs/pol/dsu/index.htm. NDSU is using the slogan as the central message of their "Leave Out" action.

    "Whose rights are next? How long will we have the guarantee of equality?" asks the group in its material for the media.

    "Patricia Garrett got breast cancer. Then she got fired. This is a story that's all too familiar to people with disabilities. If you're disabled, other people assume it's okay to pass you over, turn you down, and leave you out. They assume you're not quite as equal as everyone else and it's okay to treat you that way."

    Stories about NDSU and its April 17 action can be found at the following websites:

    Groups condemn Dutch "mercy killing" law
    by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
    April 12, 2001

    This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express Email News Service.

    THE HAGUE, NETHERLANDS--Tuesday, following a 46 to 28 vote by its Senate, the Netherlands became the first nation in the world to legalize euthanasia, otherwise known as "mercy killing". The measure essentially puts a legal stamp on the practice that has been tolerated in the country for several years.

    Several groups protested outside the parliament building, and organizations from around the world quickly responded by condemning the new law, which is expected to take effect within the next two weeks. "Euthanasia allowed in one sphere ... can slip out of control and embrace other groups of people -- those unwanted and disabled," Tadeusz Pieronek, a Roman Catholic Bishop in Poland, was quoted as saying.

    Supporters of the measure, who claim they represent the attitudes of 90 percent of the Dutch population, say the law has very strict measures that must be followed in order for doctors to avoid criminal prosecution. Those who "receive assistance" in dying must make the request voluntarily and repeatedly over time. They must face a "future of unbearable suffering with no alternatives". The patients must also consult with a second doctor.

    Disability rights advocates expressed concern and alarm regarding Tuesday's vote, pointing out that the Dutch have done little over the past several years to prosecute doctors who have failed to follow established guidelines in the past.

    "The Dutch experience with euthanasia is best described as one of increasing carelessness and callousness over the years," said Stephen Drake, a research analyst with disability rights group Not Dead Yet (NDY), in a press release.

    "Holland has shown us how easy it is for euthanasia to become institutionalized and routine," added NDY Board member Carol Cleigh. "Nonterminal disabled adults and infants are euthanized routinely in Holland, often without consent."

    Several disability rights groups have been concerned about the popularity and acceptance of so-called "assisted suicide" and "mercy killings". Making euthanasia legal would essentially make it "open season" on people with disabilities -- especially during a time when funds for medical care and treatment are being limited, and when people who have disabilities continue to be considered a "burden" to society and their families.

    The news release from Not Dead Yet included the following groups as having taken formal positions against euthanasia and "assisted suicide":

    • American Disabled for Attendant Programs Today (ADAPT)
    • Association of Rural Independent Living (APRIL)
    • Disability Rights and Education Fund (DREDF)
    • Justice For All
    • National Council on Disability
    • National Spinal Cord Injury Association
    • TASH
    • World Association of Persons with Disabilities
    • World Institute on Disability

    Mom to be tried for murdering daughter
    by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
    April 6, 2001

    This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express Email News Service.

    MONTREAL, QUEBEC--A psychiatric evaluation has determined that Rachel Capra Craig is coherent enough to stand trial for first-degree murder in the March 20 poisoning death of her daughter.

    Fourteen-year-old Chelsea Craig had Rett syndrome, a condition that has some of the same characteristics as autism, but only affects girls. Media reports indicate that Chelsea did not talk, but walked with some difficulty and attended high school.

    Police claim Rachel, 46, gave her daughter a lethal mixture of drugs, and then took some of the mixture herself in a suicide attempt. James Craig arrived home in time to save his wife but not in time to save his daughter.

    During a hearing on Wednesday, the judge ordered Rachel to stay in a psychiatric facility until her next scheduled court appearance on June 11.

    The Montreal Gazette reported yesterday that Rachel Craig has received a lot of support from family and friends, and from other parents in the form of phone calls, emails and letters.

    So far, there has been little public comment from disability rights groups.

    If you are not familiar with Rett syndrome, you can learn more from the International Rett Syndrome Association website at http://www.rettsyndrome.org

    Related story: Some bristle at series on autism in L.A. Times

    Schools to be penalized on education ruling
    by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
    April 5, 2001

    This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express Email News Service.

    PHOENIX, ARIZONA--Over the past four years about 1,000 parents filed complaints with the Arizona Department of Education regarding special education services for their children at their local school districts. Department investigators reviewed and backed 300 of those complaints. Even in cases where the department found the schools were at fault, no pressure put on schools to follow through with recommendations for change.

    Last week, a federal judge approved settlement of a 1999 class action suit filed by parents of children with disabilities against the education department. The parents took action after

    Under the settlement agreement, the department is required to review all complaints from parents within three days of receiving them. The department is to inform those parents of their legal rights immediately.

    After department officials investigate the complaint and make recommendations, districts that do not follow those recommendations will have their funding withheld. Charter schools that does not comply, could have their charter pulled.

    "No more giving school districts two, three, and four chances to follow the law," said Jerri Katzerman, a lawyer for the Arizona Center for Disability Law, which filed the suit on behalf of parents.

    The agreement does more than make changes for the future, however. Under the settlement, a special panel will be set up to review complaints made by parents since June 1997. If the schools are found at fault, they could be forced to pay the parents for out-of-pocket expenses, or to provide services in exchange for the time the parents may have lost.

    Washington Lawmakers put $8 million to implement Olmstead decision
    by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
    April 2, 2001

    This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express Email News Service.

    SEATTLE, WASHINGTON--The number of people living in state-run institutions, here called residential habilitation centers (RHCs), has been declining for several years. Still, more than 1,100 people with developmental disabilities are housed in the state's five remaining RHCs.

    Washington Governor Gary Locke requested $10.5 million in the next state budget to help move 80 people out of the RHCs. The state Senate last week included $8.3 million for that move.

    In June 1999, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the case of Olmstead vs. L.C. & E.W. that people with developmental disabilities and mental illness should receive services in the "least restrictive setting" that is appropriate for them. For many of those people, this means community-based living and supports.

    In the state of Washington, advocates for community supports have welcomed the Olmstead decision, and see it as a tool to get the state to move more quickly on de-institutionalization. In fact, two major lawsuits have been filed against the state, based on the Olmstead ruling.

    Members of the union representing state employees and families of institution residents are worried that Olmstead is being used to close institutions.

    According to the Mar. 30 Seattle Times, advocates on both sides of the debate acknowledge that more needs to be done to improve community services, especially to improve staffing in residential settings. Read the story from the Seattle Times at http://archives.seattletimes.nwsource.com/cgi-bin/texis/web/vortex/display?slug=olmstead30m&date=20010330

    More details on how Washington State is moving ahead on its Olmstead plan are available from the National Conference of State Legislatures -- you must first click on the "public user" link at http://www.ncsl.org/programs/health/forum/olmswa.htm

    Report gauges states' progress implementing Olmstead decision
    by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
    March 30, 2001

    This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express Email News Service.

    The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the case of L.C. & E.W. vs. Olmstead that services for people with disabilities must be provided in the "least restrictive setting" appropriate for that person. For thousands of Americans, this means services in the community rather than in institutions. Later that year, the federal government directed all fifty states and the District of Columbia to develop plans for complying with the Olmstead decision.

    So, how are we doing almost two years later?

    An online status report from the National Conference of State Legislatures takes a look. The report is based on surveys in each state.

    According to the report, all states are making progress, but the degree of progress varies significantly from one state to the next. Some states, such as Vermont, were already providing services in the "least restrictive environment" when the Court handed down its decision.

    Thirty-six states have responded by assembling task forces, work groups or commissions to assess their state's current status and develop plans in order to comply. Only four states have completed comprehensive plans, but twenty others expect to have their plans completed by the end of this year. A handful of states have developed position or "white papers" that are to be used as recommendations for guiding policy and funding.

    In most states, people with disabilities have been involved in the planning process, many because of their own advocacy efforts.

    But the issues involved are complex, and the process has been rather slow. And a lot of the problems have had to do with developing the necessary community-based supports within current or nearly current levels of funding.

    The study is available online -- you must first click on "public user" at http://www.ncsl.org/programs/health/forum/olmsreport.htm

    You can see how each state is doing by accessing the links at http://www.ncsl.org/programs/health/forum/olmsappb.htm

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