If all goes according to plan, Muscatatuck State
Developmental Center will close on schedule in mid-2003.
That plan got a boost this week when Governor Frank O'Bannon vetoed
legislation that could have kept the institution open two years longer.
According to the Indianapolis Star, the governor's move may have been based
primarily on finances at a time when lawmakers are trying to find ways to
keep the state from going broke. Medicaid currently pays $186,114 a year to
house a person at Muscatatuck, compared with between $46,355 and $89,243 a
year in the community.
Muscatatuck once housed 1,800 people with developmental disabilities, but
that number was reduced to 300 two years ago. The residents left at the
institution continued to suffer incredible abuse and neglect at the hands of
the people responsible for their care. In the three years leading up to
2000, investigators substantiated 183 cases of physical, sexual and verbal
abuse at the facility, 75 of which occurred in 1999.
About one hundred people have moved out since March 2000. Between 10 and 15
are scheduled to move out each month until it is closed around June 2003.
The plan has been opposed by a group of 17 parents who vow to keep the
facility open. They want to push legislators to override the governor's
veto. But that vote could not even take place until the legislature meets
eight months from now. By then over a hundred people could be moved out.
"We have a long way to go to convince many of these families we can deal
with their concerns," said John Dickerson, executive director of The Arc of
Indiana. "I think their message has been heard, and it sounds like the
governor is maintaining his commitment to do things right."
For background and past stories on Indiana's troubled institutions, check
out this Inclusion Daily Express Web page:
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