The Justice Department announced today that it has opened an investigation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into whether the State of Missouri unnecessarily institutionalizes adults with serious mental illness in skilled nursing facilities. The department will investigate whether these individuals could be served in the community with services such as supported housing, assertive community treatment, crisis services and peer support services, and whether the State’s use of guardianship for people with serious mental illness contributes to unnecessary placements in nursing facilities. Guardianship is a process in which a court appoints someone to make certain decisions for a person, often including decisions about where to live.
Prior to the announcement, the department informed state officials of the investigation.
“People with disabilities have too often been unlawfully isolated in institutions and stripped of their autonomy,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Civil Rights Division will continue to defend the rights of individuals with mental health disabilities to access the community-based services they need and to participate fully in community life.”
The Justice Department has not reached any conclusions regarding the subject matter under investigation. Individuals with relevant information are encouraged to contact the department via email at Community.Missouri@usdoj.gov or through the Civil Rights Division’s Civil Rights Portal, available at https://civilrights.justice.gov/.
Additional information about the Civil Rights Division’s Olmstead enforcement is available on its website at https://www.ada.gov/olmstead/.