Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Alabama advocates want last institution for people with intellectual disabilities closed


MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Dozens of people turned out in Montgomery March 22, supporting the effort to close the state’s only remaining institution for the developmentally disabled.

The Partlow Development Center in Tuscaloosa will shut its doors in September—a move that has created a divide among the public.

There are lawmakers who want to keep the facility open and soon they will propose legislation that would call for such action. But members of the group “People First” say that Partlow needs to close in an effort to give its residents a better way of life.

“People with disabilities should have a right and a choice in their lives, not being spoon fed. Do this. Do that at 9. Medication at 10,” Jeff Ridgeway who supports Partlow’s closing said. “In the community you have choice. You get to make your own friends. You get to live more independently.”

People’s First of Alabama is a group of individuals with developmental disabilities already living in communities throughout the state. Soon, the 150 people currently living at Partlow will be placed in community based homes.

Ridgeway actually compared being in a facility like Partlow to prison. He and others say this is the best thing that could happen for the residents.

Officials with the state’s Department of Mental Health say for the amount of money it costs to house one person at Partlow, they can house three people for the same amount in the community