The story of the Olmstead case begins with two women, Lois Curtis and Elaine Wilson, who had mental illness and developmental disabilities, and were voluntarily admitted to the psychiatric unit in the State-run Georgia Regional Hospital. Following the women’s medical treatment there, mental health professionals stated that each was ready to move to a community-based program. However, the women remained confined in the institution, each for several years after the initial treatment was concluded. They filed suit under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for release from the hospital.
On June 22, 1999, the United States Supreme Court held in Olmstead v. L.C. that unjustified segregation of persons with disabilities constitutes discrimination in violation of title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The Court held that public entities must provide community-based services to persons with disabilities when:
- such services are appropriate;
- the affected persons do not oppose community-based treatment; and
- community-based services can be reasonably accommodated, taking into account the resources available to the public entity and the needs of others who are receiving disability services from the entity.
Olmstead Enforcement: Community Integration for Everyone
U.S. v. Rhode Island –1:14-cv-00175 – (D.R.I. 2014)
On April 8, 2014, the United States entered into the nation’s FIRST statewide settlement agreement vindicating the civil rights of individuals with disabilities who are unnecessarily segregated in sheltered workshops and facility-based day programs.
The settlement agreement with the State of Rhode Island resolves the Civil Rights Division’s January 6, 2014 findings, as part of an ADA Olmstead investigation, that the State’s day activity service system over-relies on segregated settings, including sheltered workshops and facility-based day programs, to the exclusion of integrated alternatives, such as supported employment and integrated day services.
The U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island has entered the settlement agreement as a court-enforceable Consent Decree. Click this link to read more and to see a copy of any the following documents:
- Consent Decree – filed April 8, 2014
- Fact Sheet about Consent Decree
- Order Approving Consent Decree – entered April 9, 2014
- Complaint – filed April 8, 2014
- Letter of Findings – filed January 6, 2014
- Press Release on Landmark Settlement Agreement – April 8, 2014
- Remarks by Acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels at Press Conference Regarding Employment Services for Rhode Islanders with Disabilities – April 8, 2014
- Faces of Olmstead – read several individuals’ stories
- Related item: U.S. v. Rhode Island and City of Providence – 1:13-cv-00442 – (D.R.I. 2013)