FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
President and CEO
312-341-0022 ext. 7314
Abuse Investigation Unit Director
312-341-0022 ext. 7304
GOVERNOR QUINN SIGNS LAW TO PREVENT INJURIES AND DEATHS OF PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
CHICAGO (July 26, 2010) – On Friday, Governor Quinn took a critical step toward protecting the health and safety of people with disabilities by signing House Bill 5152, also known as Brian’s Law. (Public Act 96-1235). This important law implements Equip for Equality’s recommendation to create an independent, multi-disciplinary team of experts to review the deaths of all people with developmental disabilities or mental illness who die while receiving services at a state facility or community agency. The law also requires the team to identify and recommend necessary changes to policies and practices, in order to address the important lessons learned through this mortality review process.
The new law is named after Brian Kent, a young man who died tragically at the age of 25 while living in a state-run facility. Brian was injured 57 times, mostly while having one staff assigned to provide care exclusively to Brian, with those staff unable to explain 18 of the most serious injuries. Brian died 13 weeks after his admission to the facility following a blunt force trauma to his abdomen which perforated his intestines.
To address the critical problems exposed by its investigation, Equip for Equality issued a public report containing crucial findings and recommendations, including establishing an independent mortality review team and providing people with disabilities and their guardians with sufficient information on the rights to be safe and free from abuse and neglect, receive quality services, and receive services in the most integrated setting that meets the individual’s preferences and needs.
“The enactment of Brian’s Law is a critical first step to enhance the safety and quality of services provided to individuals with developmental disabilities and mental illness living in the community and in state institutions,” said Zena Naiditch, President and CEO of Equip for Equality. “Finally an independent team of experts will examine the circumstances leading up to each death and make use of what it learns to prevent future tragedies. This important development could not have been possible without the tremendous courage of Jim and Linda Kent and their willingness to share their personal grief so that others would not have to endure the same suffering,”
“The gravity of Brian’s situation was enormous and warranted the attention that this new law will provide to future victims of abuse,” said Jim Kent, Brian’s father. “Linda and I are hopeful that due to Equip for Equality’s determination and relentless pursuit of the passage of this bill, people with disabilities - no matter where they live - will experience a new sense of safety and cause those who might react with violence to think twice. We don’t have the words to express our joy of seeing this bill pass through the legislature with nearly 100% support from the members. One of Brian’s pleasures was giving healthy high-fives to anyone for almost any reason and if he were here today, he would have many potential recipients of those high-fives. We, Brian’s parents, will enjoy the importance of his life in seeing him “live on” with the impact of this new law. We offer our sincere thanks to the many people who saw the passage of this bill through to its becoming Brian’s Law.”
Representative Elaine Nekritz introduced HB 5152 and was Chief Co-sponsor in the House, along with Representatives Elizabeth Coulson, Sidney H. Mathias, Patricia R. Bellock, and Sandy Cole. Senator Heather Steans sponsored the bill in the Senate and was Chief Co-Sponsor along with Senators Mattie Hunter and Jacqueline Y. Collins.
“I’m proud to have sponsored this important legislation,” said Representative Nekritz. “Brian’s Law will enhance the quality of services provided to individuals with disabilities by ensuring that we learn as a state from the circumstances surrounding an individual’s death and work to prevent similar occurrences. While we cannot go back and change what happened to Brian, we can honor his memory by working to provide exceptional care to individuals with disabilities in our state.”
Equip for Equality, a private, not-for-profit legal advocacy organization is the federally mandated Protection and Advocacy System designated to safeguard the rights of people with physical and mental disabilities. A copy of the law, P.A. 96-1235, can be found at www.ilga.gov