“While it is clear that the state has made remarkable progress, I am not sure the state can say that it is in full compliance with the settlement agreement,” said Susan Goico of Atlanta Legal Aid. Their organization is part of “Amici,” or friends of the court, involved in the Georgia Settlement Agreement. “The work is not finished,” she said. The Ministry of Justice announced today that it has entered into an extension agreement with the State of Georgia to improve the quality and availability of services for disabled people living in the Community and to provide assisted housing for people with significant mental illnesses they need. On May 18, 2016, the State of Georgia and the U.S. Department of Justice filed an agreement with the Federal District Court to increase capacity and improve the quality of community services provided by the state to people with developmental disabilities and mental illnesses. This “extension agreement” was based on the state`s commitments in a landmark and comprehensive 2010 settlement agreement to the illegal institutionalization of people with mental illness and developmental disabilities in georgia`s public hospitals, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the landmark 1999 Supreme Court decision in Olmstead v. L.C. The case was originally brought by the U.S. Department of Justice. Previously, a coalition of interest groups had persuaded the court to refuse to accept a transaction that would have terminated the litigation without an appropriate discharge from the ADA. The agreement was secured by the efforts of the Special Litigation Division of the Civil Rights Division and the Office of the Attorney of the Northern District of Georgia. The extension agreement will continue to be monitored by the independent auditor of the 2010 agreement.
The parties requested that the court authorize the extension agreement and remain competent to apply it. The 2010 transaction agreement was renewed in 2016. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia will remain responsible for enforcing the 2008 transaction agreement between the state and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Civil Rights for the provision of community services to people with mental illness and developmental disabilities dating back to 2008. In light of today`s agreement and the progress made by the state in meeting a previous agreement on conditions in psychiatric hospitals, the United States has agreed to withdraw its requests for implementation of this previous agreement. The extension agreement improves quality monitoring and requires specific measures in the event of serious incidents and corrective measures to address deficiencies. The state will collect and verify the data to identify trends and develop initiatives to improve quality. In addition, Georgia will require suppliers to develop risk management and quality improvement programs. “Olmstead`s decision strongly confirmed that people with disabilities have the right to live and receive services in the integrated environment that best suits them as individuals,” said Thomas E.
Perez, Assistant Attorney General for Citizens` Rights. “As part of this agreement, the State of Georgia will provide community services to hundreds of people with developmental disabilities and thousands of people with mental illnesses. The promises of the ADA and Olmstead are finally becoming a reality for Georgians suffering from mental illnesses and developmental disabilities. The Department of Justice began its investigation in 2007 and found that preventable deaths, suicides and assaults had occurred in public hospitals.