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The Civil Rights of Institutionalized Peoples Act (CRIPA) was enacted into law in 1980, and enabled the Department of Justice to protect the rights of those individuals who were in the care of state institutions. Such institutions include state and locally operated jails and prisons, juvenile correctional facilities, public nursing homes, mental health facilities and institutions for individuals with intellectual disabilities. The law allows for the attorney general to intervene on behalf of institutionalized people whose rights may have been oppressed. This law was enacted to ensure the safety of those individuals who may feel uncomfortable reporting issues of abuse in these government run institutions.
In 1989, People First of Tennessee made a presentation on the subject of self advocacy to residents of Arlington Developmental Center. The residents voted to join People First.
On December 22, 1996 People First of Tennessee initiated a lawsuit against three “Developmental” Centers in the State.
Dear -Governor McVherter: I as writing to advise you that we intend to investigate the clover Bottom Developmental Center, Nashville; the Greene Valley Developmental Center, Greeneville; and the Nat T. Winston Developmental Center, 3olivar, Tennessee, to deter further the constitutional and federal statutory rights of develop-mentally disabled individuals confined in these facilities are being denied. This investigation is pursuant to the: Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act, 42 U.S.C. § 19S7 et sea.
In 1990, at the request to the United States Attorney in Memphis, we began investigating conditions at the Arlington Developmental Center ("ADC"), in Arlington, Tennessee. Approximately 450 developmentally disabled children and adults resided at the facility. After several tours of the facility by our experts and many months of unsuccessful negotiations, we sued ADC for violating the federal statutory and constitutional rights of the citizens residing there. Allegations of verbal and physical abuse, as well as evidence of unexplained injuries and sham investigations, formed part of the case against the facility and its administrators. However, because of the limited ability of most of the residents to communicate, the tight control of ADC management over employees, the extensive familial ties among employees on the units, and poor or falsified documentation, we had difficulty obtaining specific information on individual incidents (e.g., who did this to the resident, on what day, and witnessed by whom?).
The first phase is comprised of eight responsibilities DIDD and TennCare must complete by December 31, 2015 in order for the lawsuit to be partially dismissed. The second phase requires the closure of Greene Valley Developmental Center in Greeneville by June 30, 2016. Upon closure, the lawsuit would be fully and finally dismissed.
Next year, the cost of care for each remaining Clover Bottom resident is estimated at $1,400 per day, or $511,200 per resident each year. Providing care to the same individuals outside Clover Bottom is expected to save the state $100,000 per person each year.