DOJ Settlement to be Approved

June 09, 2012

Richmond Times-Dispatch

Saturday, June 9, 2012

A federal judge said Friday that with some tweaks he will approve a $2 billion proposed settlement between Virginia and the U.S. Department of Justice over services for persons with intellectual disabilities.

Virginia plans to close four of its five training centers for the intellectually disabled and add another 4,170 funded waivers so more persons can receive services and to help move those in institutions back into communities.

The agreement would bring Virginia into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and calls for a consent decree under which the state could be held in contempt of court if it fails to live up to the agreement.

Following a day-long hearing Friday, U.S. District Judge John A. Gibney Jr. said he found the proposal to be lawful, fair and equitable, consistent with public policy and not the product of collusion.

However, said he wants the agreement to make it clear that no one will be moved from a state training institution without their consent and that it makes it clear who may authorize such consent for the residents who cannot.

The judge said he also wants the agreement to require the state to immediately report to an independent reviewer – who will then report to the court — any deaths or injuries to persons moved out of institutions and back into the community.

Gibney told lawyers for Virginia, the department of Justice and for others concerned loved ones might be tossed out of a state institution that he will forward the proposed changes to them next week so Gov. Bob McDonnell and others can review them.

He said he would then schedule a telephone conference call for June 29 to see where things stand.