Equip for Equality Calls for Immediate End to Placements at Choate Developmental Center and Urges That All Individuals With Developmental Disabilities Be Moved Out
Independent facility monitoring reveals why long-standing problems with abuse, neglect, and cover-ups dictate that no individual with a developmental disability should remain at Choate Developmental Center
Chicago, IL – Equip for Equality, a non-profit organization designated as the federally mandated state Protection & Advocacy agency for Illinois, is calling for an end to all new placements at Choate Developmental Center (Choate) in Anna, Illinois, and advocating for the transition of all current residents to the most appropriate and least restrictive placements consistent with their preferences.
These and other recommendations stem from a new report by Equip for Equality’s Independent Monitoring Unit titled “Choate Developmental Center Repurposing Plan: Why No One Should be Left Behind.” This report is the culmination of over 2,000 hours of intensive monitoring during the past two years, through July 2023, and details problems that jeopardize the safety and wellbeing of residents at Choate. Of additional concern, Equip for Equality’s latest report documents many of the same problems highlighted in Equip for Equality’s 2005 report and the Department of Justice’s 2009 report.
“The problems at Choate are not new. They stem from a decades-old culture that is beyond repair. Trying to fix this facility would only serve as a distraction that delays the timely transition of the vulnerable individuals with developmental disabilities to other settings,” said Stacey Aschemann, Vice President of Equip for Equality’s Independent Monitoring Unit
The report shows in detail how Choate residents are harmed by Choate’s failure to provide federally required treatment and programming intended to prepare people with developmental disabilities to live in their communities; use of restraints as a mechanism of control without effective oversight; continued problems with staff abuse of residents, as well as peer-to-peer abuse – all creating an environment of fear and coercion that is antithetical to therapeutic services and basic human rights.
Monitors spoke with nearly one hundred individuals who expressed a strong desire to leave Choate and live in the community. Unfortunately, many do not have access to the services they need to achieve their goals, both due to treatment failures at Choate and a shortage of federally required community options.
Zena Naiditch, President & CEO of Equip for Equality, emphasized that the Governor’s March 2023 repurposing plan must go further, stating, “Moving more than half of the individuals at Choate Developmental Center to other settings is an important first step, but Equip for Equality urges Governor Pritzker to take the necessary measures to help all residents leave this facility. These individuals are living in the same conditions and have the same safety risks as those already slated to leave – there is simply no reason to treat them differently.”
Full report available at www.equipforequality.org/files/EFE_Monitoring_Findings-Choate_DC.pdf
Response from the Illinois Department of Human Services’ Division of Developmental Disabilities available at www.equipforequality.org/files/Response.pdf
Equip for Equality
Established in 1985, the mission of Equip for Equality is to advance the human and civil rights of people with disabilities in Illinois. Equip for Equality is a private not-for-profit legal advocacy organization designated by the Governor to operate the federally mandated Protection and Advocacy System to safeguard the rights of people with disabilities. For more information about Equip for Equality, go to www.equipforequality.org
This publication is made possible by funding support from the Illinois Department of Human Services and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Administration on Disabilities of the Administration for Community Living. The contents of this publication are solely the responsibility of Equip for Equality and do not necessarily represent the official views of any of these agencies.
Last updated: August 16, 2023