FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                          CR
THURSDAY, JULY 18, 1996                            (202) 616-2765
                                               TDD (202) 514-1888


     WASHINGTON, D.C. --  The Commonwealth of Virginia agreed
today to upgrade conditions at two state-run institutions for the
mentally disabled which the Justice Department had deemed
substandard.  Today's agreements resolve two suits filed in March
by the Department which charged that the facilities failed to
maintain constitutional living standards for more than 800

     The two agreements, filed today in U.S. District Court in
Alexandria under the 1980 Civil Rights of Institutionalized
Persons Act (CRIPA), will improve conditions at the Northern
Virginia Training Center (NVTC), a Fairfax facility for persons
with mental retardation and developmental disabilities, and
Eastern State Hospital (ESH), a Williamsburg facility for the
elderly and persons who are mentally ill.  

     "Because Virginia and the federal government worked
together, the lives of hundreds of mentally disabled residents
will be better protected," said Deval L. Patrick, Assistant
Attorney General for Civil Rights. 

     The agreements resolve matters dating back to an initial
Justice Department investigation of NVTC in 1990 and of ESH in
1993.  Justice Department investigators and experts, over the
past several years, have found that residents of the two
facilities lacked adequate medical care, supervision and
treatment, which led to dangerous and sometimes life-threatening
situations.  The Justice Department had kept the Commonwealth
apprised of its findings but filed suit after more than a year of
negotiations produced no agreement to improve conditions at the
facilities.  Today's settlement puts an end to any further
litigation in the matter, barring non-compliance.

     "We are pleased that this chapter has come to a close,"
added Patrick.  

     Under the agreements, the Commonwealth will:
         provide adequate psychiatric and psychological 
          treatment and medical care for residents at both

         ensure that all living conditions are safe and that
          residents are protected from harm;

         ensure that each facility is adequately staffed to meet
          residents' needs;

         develop a quality management plan at both facilities
          that will allow officials to monitor the implementation
          of the remedial measures; and

         ensure that every resident is evaluated to determine
          whether placement in the facility is appropriate.  

     Once the terms of the settlement have been properly
implemented, the cases will be dismissed by the court. The
agreement specifically outlines the procedures for Department
monitoring of compliance and final termination of the action. 
The agreement also gives the Department the authority to seek
immediate court relief if an emergency situation develops at one
of the facilities.

     Congress passed CRIPA in 1980 to protect the rights of
people housed in state and local government institutions,
including psychiatric hospitals, facilities for the mentally
retarded, jails, prisons, juvenile detention facilities and
nursing homes.  The Department has the authority to bring action
against state and local governments with institutions exhibiting
a pattern or practice of violating the constitutional and
statutory rights of residents.  
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