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Mayor Bowser Introduces Legislation to Restore the Civil Rights of Residents with Intellectual Disabilities

Thursday, March 23, 2017

(Washington, DC) – Mayor Bowser has reintroduced legislation to the DC Council to restore the civil rights of DC residents with intellectual disabilities. The Citizens with Intellectual Disabilities Civil Rights Restoration Act will put Washington, DC in line with national best practice by eliminating civil commitment as a condition for providing residential services to residents with intellectual disabilities.

“Today, Washington, DC is a national leader in providing community-based services and supports to people with intellectual disabilities, and we take pride in being a city where everyone, regardless of background or ability, can get a fair shot at reaching their full potential,” said Mayor Bowser. “As my Administration continues our commitment to expanding opportunities and furthering inclusive prosperity for all DC residents, this legislation will help ensure that residents with intellectual disabilities are not left behind.”

Currently, Washington, DC is the only jurisdiction in the country to require civil commitment of residents with at least moderate intellectual disabilities in order for those persons to receive community-based residential services. The practice of requiring civil commitment dates back to the days when people with intellectual disabilities were institutionalized and imposes an undue burden on residents by requiring them to report to court each year.

The Citizens with Intellectual Disabilities Civil Rights Restoration Act will end new commitments, but also offer opportunities for people who are currently committed to provide informed consent in order to continue their commitment. In addition, to further provide choice and decision-making authority to residents, the new law will establish a legal framework for supported decision-making whereby people with intellectual disabilities can make decisions with the support of family members and other people who know them best.

“As we continue to foster inclusive, integrated services for people with intellectual disabilities, it is important that we eliminate this practice and put Washington, DC in line with the other 50 states, none of which require commitment as a condition for providing services,” said Director of the Department on Disability Services Andrew Reese.

The Citizens with Intellectual Disabilities Civil Rights Restoration Act has been referred to the Committee on Human Services.