Help Stop Illinois Senate Bill 2533

This is from Amber Smock, Access Living's Director of Advocacy ––

Dear Access Living friends and allies–––we need your help today!
Stop Senate Bill 2533

On Tuesday, Illinois Senator John O. Jones introduced SB 2533, which would establish an Illinois Facilities Panel to review the status of each Illinois state–run facility, which includes State Operated Developmental Centers (SODCs), Mental Health Centers (MHCs) and Correctional Centers. The Panel would compose a report on the status of each facility that would completely ignore community integration and community based supports. The report would fundamentally focus on the needs of state workers, the economic impact on communities should a center close, and reform of the State agencies tasked to run the different facilities. Consumers, families and disability rights advocates are completely excluded from this process except through testimony and hearings–––which we just went through during the COGFA (Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability) process in October, and as we know that was a profoundly disturbing experience.

SB 2533 presumes that the greatest travesty affecting all these groups will be failure to manage those housed in the facilities, and loss of the jobs of those who keep people there. The REAL travesty in Illinois is the need to bolster community based services and supports, in particular in the cases of the SODCs and the MHCs. In the case of the SODCs, long term community based supports and integrated setting are badly needed to get rid of an outdated warehouse system for people with developmental disabilities. In the case of the MHCs, the State must ensure that it can serve poor people with psychiatric disabilities who need short term stays.

SB 2533 ignores the fact that those in all these facilities are people too. SB 2533 ignores the fact that in the case of people with developmental disabilities, around 30,000 people are on the Illinois waiting list for community based services. SB 2533 promotes the idea that people in these facilities are the commodities that keep communities running, ignores the possibility that community integration services bolster economies, and the panel's report cannot but help reinforce that idea. SB 2533 is not the kind of change mechanism that Illinois needs. We need your help to stop this bill.

Ironically, many Illinois Republicans are touting facility closure as a way to save money, since community services cost less. Jones and the bill's other sponsor, Shane Cultra, are running hotly contested political races next year–––so the introduction of this bill seems antithetical to fiscal conservatism.

The first thing you can do is contact Senate President John Cullerton ––

Ask him to promise that SB 2533 will die in committee.

State your name, whether you are a person with a disability, that you are opposed to SB 2533, and that you believe the Senate must focus on expanding community integration in Illinois.

Call, fax or email Senator Cullerton at:

Cullerton Springfield Office:
(217) 782–2728 PHONE
(217) 782–3242 FAX

Cullerton District Office:
(773) 883–0770 PHONE
(312) 814–2079 FAX

Cullerton E–mail: john@senatorcullerton.com

Second, contact the bill's sponsor, Senator John O. Jones ––

tell him that you want him to table SB 2533.

Again, state your name, whether you are a person with a disability, that you are opposed to SB 2533, and that you believe the Senate must focus on expanding community integration in Illinois.

Contact for Senator Jones:

Springfield Office:
(217) 782–0471 PHONE

District Office:
(618) 242–9511 PHONE
(618) 242–9516 FAX

Jones E–mail: JohnOJones@sbcglobal.net

Finally, as you fight to have this bill contained, remember Stanley Ligas, who after 18 years in a developmental disabilities facility finally won his freedom and moved into his own home last month. Equip for Equality's video on the Ligas case is at http://roustaboutmedia.com/efe2011.html. Listen to the families talk about their devastation at having to place their children in institutional settings. Illinois can do better for people with developmental disabilities, and for people with psychiatric disabilities too.

FREE OUR PEOPLE!

Amber

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