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State wards won’t be moved from disabled center

Published: Friday, Dec. 13, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

CARLYLE – A judge’s ruling this week means 23 wards of the state will not be moved for now from the facility for the developmentally disabled where they live in southern Illinois.

It was welcome news to groups behind a federal civil rights lawsuit seeking to block the state’s closure of the Murray Developmental Center in Centralia.

Gov. Pat Quinn ordered Murray and other facilities closed last year as part of an effort to save the state tens of millions of dollars. The suit, filed by parents of residents and support groups for the developmentally disabled, contends that the more than 200 people living at Murray would not get the care they need if transferred to smaller community-based homes.

Many of the residents have spent a majority of their lives at the facility and have severe disabilities that only an institution can adequately handle, the lawsuit said.

The legal action has delayed transfers for most residents, but 23 of them are wards of the state with no parents or guardians to advocate for them.

A Clinton County judge decided Wednesday to postpone a ruling on whether they will be included in the lawsuit, the Belleville News-Democrat reported.

That means they will not be moved from the center for the time being, said Rita Winkeler, chairman of the Murray Center Parents Association.

“It’s something I’ve worried about since the beginning,” she told the News-Democrat. “We really worry about the wards of the state because they don’t have parents and guardians to protect their rights.”

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Information from: Belleville News-Democrat, http://www.bnd.com

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