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Posted at 7:09 PM ET, 01/11/2011

If court oversight of D.C. disability care ends ...

By Virginia M. Schofield, Washington

Regarding the Jan. 5 Metro article “D.C. considering rights and care of the disabled”:

If court oversight of those with disabilities ends, who will be responsible for protecting those individuals in the District who lack minimal capacity to defend themselves? Will the individual that reporter Henri E. Cauvin called J. be able to tell his newly appointed advocate that he needs help, that he wants a lawyer, that he is being abused and neglected? I know that my two brothers, who have court-appointed lawyers with whom they have had long and caring relationships and who appear before the judge once a year, could not.

They are fortunate to be living in the city’s model group home, L’Arche, and to have, for now, a wonderful service coordinator at the D.C. Department on Disability Services.

A proposed bill would eliminate judicial oversight and remove an essential layer of protection for people like J. and my brothers.

Magistrate Judge Dianne Brenneman, year in and year out, presses to make sure they are protected. If she does not like what she hears, she issues court orders that DDS probably does not like much.

No matter how competent and how caring they are, city agencies cannot monitor themselves. They need independent oversight. We learned that from years of suffering at the hands of DDS’s predecessor agencies. Why go back? How long will it take to correct the mistake this bill would make by removing protection?

Passage of this bill will take away the peace of mind I have always had concerning my two brothers’ future. They are younger than I am. Who will hold DDS accountable after I am dead?

By Virginia M. Schofield, Washington  | January 11, 2011; 7:09 PM ET
Categories:  D.C., HotTopic  
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