WASHINGTON - The Justice Department announced today a settlement with the State of Nebraska concerning the care given to residents of the Beatrice State Developmental Center (BSDC). BSDC is a state-owned and operated residential facility that serves almost 300 persons with mental retardation or other developmental disabilities. The agreement, submitted to and subject to the approval of the U.S. District Court, stems from concerns about conditions and practices at BSDC based on the Department’s investigation of the facility, pursuant to the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA).
The State of Nebraska fully cooperated with the Department’s investigation. Under the terms of the settlement agreement, the State will work to ensure that BSDC residents are safe and receive the care and services necessary to meet their individualized needs. Specifically, the State has agreed to undertake a variety of measures, such as: providing a safe and humane environment with zero tolerance for abuse or neglect of residents; providing adequate medical care, nursing services, and nutritional and physical support, including therapy and communication support; providing adequate psychological and behavioral services and psychiatric care; and ensuring that residents are free from undue bodily restraint. The State will also ensure that each resident is served in the most integrated setting pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Under the terms of the agreement, Nebraska will fund and work with an independent expert who will oversee the State’s compliance with the agreement. The agreement contemplates that the State will reach compliance within four years.
"By agreeing to implement a comprehensive and effective remedial plan, Nebraska officials have demonstrated a genuine commitment to address the needs of the State’s citizens with developmental disabilities in a positive and constructive manner," said Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. "We are very pleased that we were able to work cooperatively with the State to arrive at a resolution that will ensure that the rights of persons with developmental disabilities are protected. We applaud the State of Nebraska for its innovative efforts to more effectively serve BSDC residents and ensure their health, safety, and welfare."
"The ability to expeditiously fashion this comprehensive agreement, reflects the importance both State and Federal authorities place on the dignity of care provided to all in need," said Joe W. Stecher, U.S. Attorney for the District of Nebraska.
The remedial agreement represents a negotiated resolution of the Justice Department’s investigation that would not have been possible without the cooperation and commitment of the Governor of Nebraska, Dave Heineman, the head of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, Christine Peterson, and the director of the State Division of Developmental Disabilities, John Wyvill.
CRIPA authorizes the Attorney General to investigate conditions in certain institutions owned or operated by, or on behalf of, state or local governments. These institutions include nursing homes, residential facilities serving people with mental retardation or other developmental disabilities, mental health facilities, jails, prisons, and juvenile correction facilities. CRIPA’s focus is on systemic deficiencies rather than individual, isolated problems.
More information about the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, and the laws it enforces, is available at http://www.usdoj.gov/crt.