Last September, Choate Mental Health and Development Center came under fire after a controversial report was released detailing complaints of abuse and neglect. In response, the state announced in March that it would respond by downsizing the facility and moving around half of the residents to the other six developmental centers run by the state in an attempt to reform the facility. Unfortunately, this week another report was released by ProPublica detailing not only continued issues of abuse and neglect at Choate, but showing that these issues are rampant at other state-run facilities as well.
The report shows that since 2012, Illinois State Police have opened 200 investigations into employee misconduct at the state’s seven developmental centers, which are responsible for taking care of roughly 1,600 individuals. 161 of the cases involve allegations of physical abuse and criminal battery, 25 pertain to accusations of sexual assault and custodial sexual misconduct, and 10 allege criminal neglect. Four of the investigations were related to the death of a resident.
In February of 2023, every Republican lawmaker in the Illinois Senate and House signed onto a letter calling for public hearings on the situation at Choate. This week, Republican legislators issued another request for open hearings, this time to learn more about the continued issues at all of the state’s facilities for the developmentally disabled.
State Senator Sue Rezin said that the administration has repeatedly failed to properly prioritize the state’s developmentally disabled community, including failing to adequately fund services and address abuse and neglect. Unfortunately, this vulnerable population is continually being left behind.