Tuesday, August 26, 2008

DOJ probes all Texas institutions for people with intellectual disabilities

From The Houston Chronicle:

AUSTIN — The federal investigation of state facilities that care for intellectually disabled persons has been expanded to cover all 13 institutions, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Aug. 22.

The Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services said it will cooperate fully with the expanded review, which previously had centered on the Lubbock and Denton State Schools.

"We welcome the scrutiny and will continue ongoing improvements of the quality of care provided in the state schools, " said Laura Albrecht, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services.

Disability officials prefer the term "intellectually disabled" to "mentally retarded."

About 4,600 people with intellectual and other serious disabilities reside in the schools. The state has been under pressure from advocates to shift many of the residents into small, home-based settings.

The Justice Department scrutiny began several years ago with the Lubbock State School. Last year, federal investigators issued a scathing report detailing abuse and neglect at that facility.

Investigators have visited the Denton State School, but have not yet issued their report.

Albrecht said she didn't know what prompted the investigation to expand to all of the state schools.