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Feds find state mental health system in violation of ADA

The good folks at Disability Rights NC [1] issued a press release [2] today that highlights a new 16 page report [3] from the U.S. Department of Justice. The findings come just under a year after DRNC issued its own damning report [4] on North Carolina’s shameful treatment of the mentially ill.

This is from the release:

Raleigh, NC After an eight-month investigation, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has issued a letter of findings accusing the State of North Carolina of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by unnecessarily institutionalizing mental health patients instead of providing support in the community. The DOJ’s investigation was prompted by a complaint filed in July 2010 by Disability Rights North Carolina, the state’s protection and advocacy agency for people with disabilities.

“Finally, this is a critical step towards true recovery for people with mental illness in North Carolina,” said Vicki Smith, Executive Director of Disability Rights NC. “The State’s bias towards institutionalization of people with mental illness has gone unchecked for far too long.”

The central finding of the DOJ is that North Carolina lacks an adequate community support system for people with mental illness. As a result, individuals are institutionalized in more expensive and more restrictive settings in Adult Care Homes. “Most people with mental illness receiving services in adult care homes could be served in more integrated settings, but are relegated indefinitely and unnecessarily to adult care homes because of systemic State actions and policies,” wrote U.S. Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez. “Reliance on unnecessary institutional settings violates the civil rights of people with disabilities. Community integration will permit the State to support people with disabilities in settings appropriate to their needs in a cost effective manner.”

You can read the entire release and Justice Department report by clicking here [2] and here [3].