In my last post I was very hopeful about prospects for Bill 22-0154, the Disability Services Reform Amendment Act of 2017 (formerly CIDCRRA), which aims to roll back the paternalistic system of court commitment for people with intellectual disabilities in D.C. WE ARE THE ONLY JURISDICTION IN THE NATION WHERE LAWYERS AND JUDGES HAVE FINAL SAY ABOUT WHAT SERVICES PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES WHO HAVE COMMITTED NO CRIME WILL RECEIVE. To those of you receiving services in this way now, I have the following message:
- I get it, it’s what you know. Nothing in the bill prevents your family member from continuing the way things are. Nothing.
- Have you thought about why the lawyers who have a stake in keeping the system as it is are the ones leading the opposition? They may be well intentioned, but they are not objective.
- Please don’t oppose the bill. Keep what you have but let the rest of us move forward.
To the rest of you:
- There is expected to be a second vote in the Council, probably on February 6.
- Opposition is mobilizing. See https://tinyurl.com/y77pomvj for an article co-written by a DC lawyer who currently represents people under commitment in D.C.
- Those leading the opposition to the bill argue that the D.C. government has consistently exploited its residents with disabilities for 40 years. This ignores the very significant reforms that have taken place, especially over the past ten years. (See https://tinyurl.com/yblwlq6z, and https://ddc.dc.gov/page/needs-assessment-2016 to understand where things really stand.)
- Please do not rely on Project ACTION! and Quality Trust to do all the heavy lifting on this. If you live in D.C., it’s especially important to write to council members who are not on the Human Services Committee (see page to the right). These are (council member email followed by key staff member):
If you live in D.C., please write, even if you don’t consider disability issues to be your highest priority. Tell the council members that you favor bill B22-0154 because it’s time for people with disabilities and those who support them to decide what type of support they need without a lawyer and judge saying so. (If you have more questions, have a look at https://tinyurl.com/y8zq3pnw.)
GET THE COURTS OUT OF OUR SUPPORTS. We can do this, it’s time to do this. Please pitch in.