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New Suit Challenges Guardianship Rules For Institution Residents
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 15, 2003

LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS--A new discrimination lawsuit has been filed that challenges Arkansas guardianship rules regarding people with developmental disabilities in institutions.

The suit represents two residents of Southeast Arkansas Human Development Center who would like to move out of the institution.

The suit, filed by the Arkansas Disability Rights Center, claims that residents at the six state-run institutions are not given a voice in deciding where they will live. The suit accuses the state of violating the constitutional rights of institution residents that have guardians, by ignoring their input when they are admitted or released. It also seeks an order requiring residents to be given attorneys and hearings in front of a judge.

A similar suit was filed March 21 of this year on behalf of a woman who wanted to move out of Conway Human Development Center but was not allowed to do so because the decision was opposed by her sister, who was her legal guardian. That woman, identified only as "Jane Doe", died on August 9.

DRC attorney Janet C. Baker sought class-action status for that suit, which would have made it apply to the other 1,200 people with developmental disabilities currently housed in Arkansas institutions.

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