ANNA, IL — In Anna, Illinois, 123 people will be moving out of the Choate Developmental Center that houses developmentally disabled people.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Wednesday announced that the facility will partially close after reports of resident abuse by staff and attempts to cover it up.
Illinois State Sen. Terri Bryant is frustrated about the governor’s decision.
She said the people housed at Choate are the most vulnerable in society and don’t have anywhere else to go.
“The real thing that’s getting lost in all of the mix in the press releases that I’ve seen from some legislators and the governor’s office is 123 people who call Choate home, and most of them were not able to settle in any other environment,” said Bryant.
Pritzker put some of the blame for current issues at the facility on past leadership.
“Let me start by reminding you the condition of all of these facilities and the funding for these facilities before I took office,” said Pritzker. “You know what that was. But, I mean, it truly had been hollowed out. When I came into office, it wasn’t like we woke up halfway through. Immediately we understood that these things are underfunded, they’re understaffed and very difficult to attract people to some of these facilities with the right kind of credentials.”
Carole Rosen with Arc of Illinois, a disability advocacy organization, said Choate should have had more accountability when it came to the alleged abuse.
“It’s not OK to abuse anyone. It’s not OK to abuse anyone in a state operated developmental system or in the community, and no one wants to see any of that in any part of Illinois,” said Rosen.
But Bryant said the disruption will impact the most vulnerable.
“That does not mean that you take, that you disrupt the lives of 120 some odd, 123 people,” said Bryant. “Forcibly moving them to other facilities.”
The Associated Press reports that the residents who are being moved are being relocated to other state-supported facilities or community-based homes.
The remaining 112 residents include some who were ordered to be there by criminal courts, the AP reports. Those individuals cannot live in a typical prison setting because of their disabilities, and they’ll remain there while authorities find the best placement for them and while Choate is being redesigned, the AP reports.
Additionally, the AP reports that 49 people have faced felony charges for misconduct at Choate since 2015. That includes staff members and residents.
Again, to be clear, Pritzker said he is not closing Choate, and he did not mention layoffs during the news conference. In a news release sent Wednesday morning, the governor’s office said the center will repurposed over the course of three years in partnership with the SIU School of Medicine, and new safety enhancements will be implemented there and across all State-Operated Developmental Centers.
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March 8, 2023 at 11:17PM