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Press Release

Justice Department Secures Settlement with State of Iowa Addressing Unconstitutional Conditions at Glenwood Resource Center

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

The Justice Department announced today that it has filed a complaint and a proposed consent decree with the State of Iowa to resolve allegations that conditions at Glenwood Resource Center (Glenwood), an institution for individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities (IDD), violated the Constitution.

Specifically, the proposed consent decree, which must still be approved by the court, would resolve the department’s claims that the State exposes Glenwood residents to unreasonable harm and serious risk of harm by subjecting them to uncontrolled and unsupervised experimentation, inadequate physical and behavioral health care and inadequate protection from harm, including deficient safety and oversight mechanisms.

“People with disabilities should not be subjected to the kind of unconstitutional conditions and ill treatment that too many have experienced at Glenwood,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “This agreement makes clear that the basic constitutional rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities living in state-run facilities must be protected. Our agreement will ensure adequate oversight of and accountability at Glenwood, and requires extensive public reporting to promote transparency and rebuild public trust. For those who are leaving Glenwood, our agreement requires the State to help them transition to services that will meet their needs in the most integrated setting and support them in engaging with the broader community.”

The proposed consent decree prohibits uncontrolled and unsupervised experiments; requires better staffing, training and oversight for clinical care; dramatically limits the use of restraints and seclusion; and requires substantial State oversight over all aspects of Glenwood’s operation. The State must also implement policies and procedures to address the underlying deficiencies that led to the alleged constitutional violations. In addition, the decree requires greater transparency, through public reporting and engagement with stakeholders. The proposed consent decree appoints an independent monitor who will assess the State’s compliance with the decree’s terms. 

Further, if more than one-third of current Glenwood residents move to, and are living at, Woodward Resource Center (the other State-run institution for individuals with IDD) at any point during the decree term, then the consent decree will apply to Woodward as well. The State of Iowa announced in April 2022 that it plans to close Glenwood in approximately two years, and the proposed consent decree requires the State to ensure that Glenwood residents move to the most integrated setting consistent with their informed choice, needs and preferences, with the appropriate services and supports in place.

The Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa initiated the investigation in November 2019 under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act, which authorizes the department to act to correct a pattern or practice of deprivation of federal rights of individuals who reside in institutions, such as Glenwood Resource Center. In December 2020, the department provided the State written notice of the alleged unlawful conditions and remedial measures necessary to address them. Specifically, the department concluded that there is reasonable cause to believe that the State of Iowa violated the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution by harming Glenwood residents and placing them at serious risk of harm. 

The proposed consent decree does not resolve the department’s notice issued in December 2021 regarding unnecessary institutionalization of people with IDD at Glenwood and Woodward Resource Centers, in violation of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Negotiations to resolve the December 202 Notice are ongoing.

Individuals with relevant information are encouraged to contact the department via email at Additional information about the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department is available on its website at

Updated December 2, 2022

Civil Rights
Disability Rights
Press Release Number: 22-1283