International Disability Rights News Service
Your quick, once-a-day look at disability rights, self-determination
and the movement toward full community inclusion around the world.

Thursday, June 17, 2004
Year V, Edition 957

Today's front section features 8 news and information items, each preceded by a number (#) symbol.
Click on the "Below the Fold" link at the bottom of this section for 30 more news items.

"Right now, people are geared up for this."

--Kate Gainer, organizer of Georgia's Long Road Home march, commemorating the five-year anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark Olmstead decision (First story)

"It had never been done before."
--Ray Paprota, the first and only paraplegic driver to compete in the NASCAR Touring Series, explaining why he had to convince organizers to let him race (Fifth story)



Home Of Olmstead Celebrates Five Year Mark Of Landmark Disability-Rights Case

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
June 17, 2004

MILLEDGEVILLE, GEORGIA--About 200 disability rights advocates in Georgia are expected to celebrate the five-year anniversary of the most important ADA victory for people with mental and other disabilities in the nation, by participating in a rally and march this weekend.

Dubbed the "Long Road Home March, Caravan & Freedom Celebration", the four-day event will also highlight the areas where the state needs to make changes required by what is known as the Olmstead decision.

"Right now, people are geared up for this," the event's chair, Kate Gainer, told Inclusion Daily Express.

On June 22, 1999, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, in the case of Olmstead v L.C. & E.W., that states violate the Americans with Disabilities Act when they "unnecessarily" institutionalize people with mental disabilities. The case involved Lois Curtiss and Elaine Wilson, who had been confined to a Georgia institution even though state workers said they could be served well in the community. Tommy Olmstead was the Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Human Services.

In its 6-3 decision, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote that "states are required to place persons with mental disabilities in community settings rather than in institutions when the State's treatment professionals have determined that community placement is appropriate, the transfer from institutional care to a less restrictive setting is not opposed by the affected individual, and the placement can be reasonably accommodated, taking into account the resources available to the State and the needs of others with mental disabilities."

President Clinton followed the Olmstead decision with a directive to all state Medicaid programs to draw up plans to comply with the Olmstead ruling and the "integration mandate" of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act.

How is Georgia doing on implementing its Olmstead plan?

"Well, they developed a plan, but it was set aside," Gainer said.

When asked why, Gainer replied, "That's one of the things we'll be asking the governor."

The advocates want to be more involved in implementing the plan and getting regular progress reports from the state. Gainer cited the 2004 State of the States in Developmental Disabilities, a report published by the University of Colorado, which listed Georgia in 45th place of the 50 states in providing community-based services. Two years ago, Georgia was in 50th place.

"People with disabilities were in on the process of developing the plan, but we don't know what happened since then," she explained.

The advocates want the event to raise awareness of the need for the state to support Money Follows the Person legislation that would require supports to move with people who move from institutional settings into community-based settings. They are also demanding that the state to pick up funding for a nursing home transition program, that will lose federal money in September.

Gainer said they expect about 50 people to participate in the 160-mile march, which begins Saturday at the Old Capitol building at Milledgeville and ends at the current state capitol in Atlanta on Tuesday. Along the way they will visit the Central State Hospital Cemetery and hold a vigil at the Brook Run, a state-run institution that was closed in 1997.

Sponsored by People First of Atlanta, a self-advocacy group made up of people with developmental disabilities, the event will end with a Freedom Celebration at Atlanta's City Hall. There, Lois Curtiss and Elaine Wilson will present the 1st Annual Olmstead Awards to lawmakers who have supported the movement toward community supports.

Gainer said she was inspired to organize the campaign after attending the Free Our People rally in Washington, DC last September. An estimated 500 disability rights advocates marched from Philadelphia to the nation's capital to draw attention to the need to remove the institutional bias that exists in the current long-term care system.

Gainer added that the action is also designed to let people with disabilities know that their voices count and to let lawmakers know that the votes of this group do make a difference.

"Our slogan is, 'Stop balancing the state budget on our backs'," she said.

Long Road Home
People First of Atlanta
Olmstead v. LC & EW (U.S. Supreme Court)



Disabilities To Be Added To Hate Crimes Legislation

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
June 17, 2004

BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND--A justice official announced Thursday that he will expand proposed "hate-crimes" legislation to include crimes motivated by hatred toward people with disabilities.

The previous draft of the measure would give more protections for people with disabilities, by requring judges to consider disability -- along with sexual orientation, race and religion -- as aggravating factors when sentencing those convicted of such crimes.

Criminal Justice Miniser John Spellar, who spoke during a debate at the Northern Ireland Grand Committee, said that the measure would require judges to consider disability, along with sexual orientation, race and religion, as aggravating factors when sentencing those who have been convicted of crimes.

"The proposals also bring forward measures to increase maximum sentences for certain offences, giving judges greater powers in sentencing where aggravation is proven," he said.

Disability advocates have been pushing to have disabilities included in the measure, noting that such laws were in place in England and Wales, but not in Northern Ireland.

Last month, Northern Ireland Affairs Committee Chairman Michael Mates explained that organizations representing people with disabilities, along with Northern Ireland's Council for Ethnic Minorities and the Equality Commission, presented his committee with "credible evidence that disabled people in Northern Ireland do experience a wide range of 'hate crime' attacks."

The draft legislation is expected to be presented to parliament within the next few weeks.



Judge To Rule On Sentencing For Abusive Parents

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
June 17, 2004

OSHAWA, ONTARIO--Three years ago, a tip from a relative led police and child-care workers to a farmhouse where they rescued two teenage brothers with disabilities from horrific conditions.

Investigators later learned that the brothers, who were considered hyperative and may have fetal alcohol syndrome, were subjected to "near torture" for a period of 13 years while they lived with their adoptive parents. The boys told of being beaten, tied to their beds, handcuffed and locked overnight in a makeshift cage. They said they were forced to wear diapers because they couldn't get to the bathroom, and that they were in such fear of being punished for soiling themselves that they sometimes ate and drank their own wastes, the Toronto Star reported.

The teens, now age 17 and 18, were not named in order to protect their privacy. The Star noted that they are in foster care and are attending high school.

This January, the boy's adoptive parents pleaded guilty to charges of assault with a weapon, forcible confinement and neglect.

During a pre-sentencing hearing on Wednesday, Crown attorney Soula Olver told Ontario Court Judge Donald Halikowski that the mother should receive a sentence of six to eight years behind bars, and that the father should get three to five years.

Defence lawyer Alex Sosna portrayed the mother as simply having a 6th grade education and poor parenting skills, and the father as being a kindly gentleman. Sosna argued that the mother should receive a 12 to 15 month sentence, and that her husband should serve just six months.

Sentencing has been scheduled for July 5.

"Parents who caged boys deserve prison, court told" (Toronto Star)



Former Staff Member Joins Abuse Complaints Against Psychiatric Facility

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
June 17, 2004

NELSON, NEW ZEALAND--Four patients of the former Ngawhatu Psychiatric Hospital have come forward to issue formal complaints against the government claiming that they were sexually and physically abused by staff members, and were punished with electric shock treatments -- sometimes several times a day.

Attorney Roger Chapman told the Nelson Mail that complaints have also been filed by a man whose wife was a patient at Ngawhatu in the 1950s, along with a former staff member whose sister was a patient.

Chapman said that the staff member, a former nurse's aide, gave his office a medical journal and other information about treatments at the hospital. While he would not give details, the Wellington attorney said the woman alleges that patients were subjected to experimentation on eletro-shock therapy (ECT), a controversial treatment that was later discredited except in very specific cases.

"She is certainly saying that there was a certain amount of experimentation on patients, giving them substantial amounts of electric shock therapy," Chapman said. "There is also talk of some patients being given an electrical leucotomy. We are still getting details about that but it doesn't sound great."

A leucotomy, known in the U.S. and other places as a lobotomy, is a surgical operation on the frontal lobes of the brain intended to treat some mental illnesses that were not affected by medication.

The cases are part of a "steady number" of complaints -- more than 200 so far -- that have been filed recently by former patients of psychiatric institutions across New Zealand. Most of the complaints concern incidents that allegedly occured during the 1960s and 1970s by patients who were then between 8 and 16 years of age.

Nearly 70 legal claims have been filed so far in the High Court, each asking for up to $500,000 in compensation and up to $50,000 in exemplary damages, the New Zealand Herald reported. Another 40 cases are close to being filed.

Until recently officials had believed the abuses were confined to two former institutions. As more claimants came forward in the past few weeks, nearly all of the country's psychiatric hospitals had been implicated.

Most of the facilities either are closed or no longer operate as mental institutions. Ngawhatu Psychiatric Hospital was closed in 2000-2001 and its residents moved into the Nelson community.

The claims by one former patient of Kingseat Hospital, south of Auckland, have prompted Manukau police to reopen their investigation into the 1968 death of 11-year-old Clement Matthews. A coroner had ruled that the boy died from pneumonia. Stephen Lindsay, who was 14 at the time has reported that he witnessed Matthews being beaten and kicked a few hours before he was found dying in his locked room.

On Monday, Prime Minister Helen Clark said the Government is looking into the possibility of dealing with the complaints through mediation, but that more time is needed to gather information before deciding on what approach to take.



Transport Company Teams Up To Sponsor NASCAR Driver

June 17, 2004

CANTON, NORTH CAROLINA--The following five paragraphs are excerpts from a story in Thursday's Asheville Citizen-Times:

[Robert] Cook is chief executive officer of STOPS Inc., a Titusville, Fla.-based company that helps people who have been injured on the job get back to work with transportation and language translation services. The company also has started a product line that features vehicles and homes for people with disabilities.

In September, Cook was watching "Monster Garage" on The Discovery Channel when he saw Birmingham, Ala.-based race car driver Ray Paprota helping modify a Mercedes ML320. Paprota is the first and only paraplegic driver to compete in a NASCAR Touring Series.

"When I saw this opportunity, I thought, 'What a really cool guy,'" Cook said.

NASCAR had questions about how a man without the use of his legs could operate a race car at speeds topping 170 mph. But Paprota and his crew proved they were ready and weren't trying to gain any advantages with their system of hand controls.

"It had never been done before," Paprota said. "We had to present our plan of attack to NASCAR and had to have the answers before they even asked."

Entire article:
Paraplegic NASCAR driver inspires CEO to back barrier-breaking team (Citizen-Times)



Inclusion Solutions

What message is your business sending to consumers with disabilities? If it isn’t accessible, you’re likely telling this important audience that you don’t value their business. Even worse, you may be in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Inclusion Solutions was developed for businesses just like yours. We offer affordable solutions and services to help you become compliant with the law and to open your doors to a whole new base of customers.


# EXPRESS EXTRA!!! From the Inclusion Daily Express Archives (One year ago):

Conference: Too Many Young People "Rotting Away" In Nursing Homes
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
June 17, 2003

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA--The governments of Australia and New Zealand need to take immediate action to stop the growth in the number of young people housed in nursing homes, an audience at a Melbourne conference was told Monday.

More than 400 delegates were on hand for the national conference on Alternatives for Young People in Nursing Homes, which continues for the next two days.

Nearly 6,000 people with disabilities under the age of 65 are currently housed in nursing facilities across the two countries, according to a brief story from The Age news service.

In the Australian state of New South Wales alone, government figures show that the number of young people admitted to such facilities has doubled since 1990. There are 2,500 young people with disabilities such as cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, or brain injuries "rotting away in aged care nursing homes", one delegate said.

"For too many years now this issue has gone unresolved," said conference spokesperson Bronwyn Morkham.

"We are looking for leadership from the commonwealth to provide other options so these people can live in dignity," she explained.

Morkham said the conference would explore the option of shared accommodation with 24-hour care for young people.


Check in with other Inclusion Daily Express readers:


Have Google look for specific words or phrases in Inclusion Daily Express editions going back to December 1999:


Click here for the rest of today's disability-related news:


Tell your friends and colleagues about Inclusion Daily Express!

Inclusion Daily Express

© Copyright 2004 Inonit Publishing. Please do not reprint, post or forward without permission.
Reprint guidelines:

Inonit Publishing
3231 W. Boone Ave., # 711, Spokane, Washington 99201 USA
Phone: 509-326-5811
Dave Reynolds, Editor