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Washington 'Community Protection' Program Blasted

by Dave Reynolds (subscribe)

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express (subscribe)

SEATTLE--In Washington, about 380 adults with developmental disabilities are supervised in their own homes or apartments through the state's Community Protection program.

The state says most have been convicted of crimes, but some have exhibited "inappropriate behaviors" in public, or have been suspected of crimes, but are not legally able to assist in their own defense. In earlier years, they would have been institutionalized or jailed.

A lengthy Seattle Post-Intelligencer investigative series in mid-November has revealed a number of problems with the Community Protection program that have put participants at risk of physical and sexual assault along with financial exploitation and theft.

Sixteen for-profit agencies provide direct, around-the-clock supervision through contracts with the Division of Developmental Disabilities at a cost of $34 million a year. State law does not require those agencies to be licensed.

Additionally, some advocates criticize the program, claiming it violates the due process rights of participants because there is no court oversight. While the Community Protection program is considered voluntary, participants are forced to agree to follow the program rules or risk losing all of their services.

"That's a huge issue -- the overarching issue," said David Girard, an attorney with Washington Protection and Advocacy System. "The problem is that for our clients, there are no other options."

Some critics say the program has not lived up to its promise to protect the community or those being served.

Read the series from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

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