International Disability Rights News Service
Your quick, once-a-day look at disability rights, self-determination
and the movement toward full community inclusion around the world.

Tuesday, June 8, 2004
Year V, Edition 950

Today's front section features 8 news and information items, each preceded by a number (#) symbol.
Click on the "Below the Fold" link at the bottom of this section for 38 more news items.

"I didn't want to hear . . . of something similar happening to another developmentally disabled child."

--Helen Childs, who is receiving a $1.325 million settlement from the city of Denver, along with assurances of reforms within the police department. Her 15-year-old son, Paul, was shot to death by a Denver Police officer last July inside the family's home (First story)

"In fact, they are social outcasts."
--Ivan Guliyev, director of an orphanage in Pugachevka, Ukraine that houses 100 children with mental disabilities near the site of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster (Fourth story)



Mrs. Childs Satisfied With Settlement, Reforms

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
June 8, 2004

DENVER, COLORADO--Helen Childs said Monday that she is satisfied with the city's decision to pay her and her daughter $1.325 million to settle a lawsuit over the shooting death of her 15-year-old son, Paul Childs III.

Mostly, however, she is pleased at the reforms that are taking place within the Denver Police Department since her son's death -- reforms she hopes will prevent such tragedies in the future.

"I didn't want to hear . . . of something similar happening to another developmentally disabled child," she said.

The City Council voted 11-1 to approve the payout which is the second-largest, police-related settlement in Denver history.

Paul Childs, who had mental retardation and epilepsy, was shot to death in his home on July 5, 2003.

The teen had been recovering from a seizure when he started walking through the house clutching a kitchen knife to his chest. His sister, Ashley, called 9-1-1 in the hopes that police would be able to help calm him down, as they had done previously.

Officer James Turney, who had driven Paul home a few months earlier, arrived on the scene, along with two other officers that were armed with non-lethal Tasers. When Childs failed to follow Turney's instructions to drop the knife, the officer shot him four times, killing him in a doorway.

An investigation later cleared Turney of any criminal wrongdoing in the case, but Manager of Safety Al LaCabe determined that Turney had violated the department's "use of force" policy by unnecessarily forcing a confrontation with Childs. Turney was given a 10-month suspension without pay. When he returns to duty, he will not be allowed to work on the streets.

Soon after the shooting, the Childs family made it clear that they planned to sue the city in order to force changes in police policies. Boulder attorney Timothy Rastello worked with defense attorney Johnnie Cochran Jr. in negotiating with the city. Cochran is most famous for defending O.J. Simpson in his criminal trial.

Under the agreement, Helen Childs and her attorneys will receive a $726,115 check later this month. Helen will also receive a monthly annuity payment of $3,783.72 for the next 20 years. Ashley Childs will receive $5,000 per year for the next four years.

Mrs. Childs says she plans to use some of the money to purchase a headstone for her son's grave. She also wants to move out of the house, where there are still blood stains in the carpet and bullet holes in the wall from the day her son was shot to death.

In addition to the settlement, the department agreed to train at least one-half of its officers in crisis intervention techniques over the next two years; supply 100 more Tasers to patrol officers; issue public reports after all police incidents that lead to serious injury or death; hire more minority officers to increase diversity; and hire a mental health worker to train officers how to deal with people who have developmental disabilities and mental illnesses in crisis situations.

"Childs case settled, mom plans gravestone" (Denver Post),1413,36~4330~2198826,00.html
"Helen Childs: Justice is done" (Rocky Mountain News)
Full text of letter from the City of Denver to Helen Childs
"The Death of Paul Childs III" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)



Were S.F. Tax-Payers 'Sold A Bill Of Goods?';
Laguna Honda Accepts Younger, Violent Patients

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
June 8, 2004

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA--Health officials, medical professionals and staff members at Laguna Honda Hospital are growing increasingly concerned over the City of San Francisco's decision to send younger and potentially dangerous patients to the city's only publicly-owned nursing facility.

There has been a trend in recent years of sending patients with long-term medical needs from San Francisco General Hospital to Laguna Honda. The trend sped up recently when Mitch Katz, the city's Department of Public Health Director, asked Laguna Honda to give those patients priority for admissions over seniors from the community.

"Everyone is entitled to skilled nursing care,'' Katz explained. "And Laguna Honda was set up as a skilled care center."

But many of the patients are under age 60 and have mental illnesses or chemical addictions. A few are violent. Some are repeat offenders.

Benson Nadell, director of the San Francisco's Long Term Health Care Ombudsman Program, wrote in a May 17 report that the new admissions plan "puts the regular resident at risk."

The San Francisco Chronicle on Monday recounted an incident in which an older resident was assaulted by two young gang members affiliated with a 25-year-old Laguna Honda resident. The younger resident was later found to be in possession of two bags of marijuana.

"We can handle pretty disturbed people, but not if they hurt or upset or take advantage of people around them," one staff member, Dr. Teresa Palmer, told the Chronicle. "Or if they take up so much staff time that the staff doesn't have time for other patients.''

Staffers who complain or question the admissions plan are warned that refusing these patients could mean cuts in funding and jobs.

The decision to give younger patients priority at Laguna Honda could also affect the citizens of San Francisco in a broader sense.

Five years ago, voters approved a $299 million bond issue to rebuild Laguna Honda, primarily to house seniors.

"When supporters -- including Katz -- encouraged voters to enact the measure, they continually emphasized the need for senior care and said a renovated Laguna Honda would help provide it," read an editorial in the San Francisco Examiner. "To change the emphasis -- or even to dilute it -- at this point would mean that voters were sold a bill of goods five years ago."

In July 2000, a group of Laguna Honda residents sued San Francisco and several state agencies, claiming the agencies violated the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, the Nursing Home Reform Act, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, by not providing community-based services for those who want to live in their own homes. The lawsuit cited the 1999 U.S. Supreme Court's Olmstead decision, which ruled that unnecessarily institutionalizing people with disabilities is a form of discrimination.

In October 2001, approximately 600 disability rights activists from ADAPT and other groups from around the nation gathered in San Francisco to protest the plans to rebuild the aging facility.

Last May, the U.S. Department of Justice said that the city and county of San Francisco are violating the rights of people housed at Laguna Honda by not providing them with the choice to live in the community.

The 135-year-old Laguna Honda Hospital is the oldest nursing facility in California. With 1,200 beds, it is the largest publicly-owned nursing home in the United States.

"More violent patients are going to Laguna Honda" (San Francisco Chronicle)
"Laguna Honda is for seniors" (San Francisco Examiner)
"Laguna Honda Hospital -- Largest Nursing Home In US" (Inclusion Daily Express)



Autopsy Shows Assisted-Suicide Crusader Had No Cancer When She Committed Suicide

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
June 8, 2004

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA--An autopsy report has confirmed that euthanasia crusader Nancy Crick did not have cancer at the time she took her own life two years ago.

Family members who have seen the seven-page report told reporters Tuesday that the official post-mortem examination indicates 43 different times that no cancer was found in Crick's body.

The 69-year-old great-grandmother surrounded herself by 21 relatives and supporters on May 22, 2002 when she took a lethal combination of drugs in her home.

She had said she wanted to die because she was in pain and in the terminal stages of cancer. In her Internet "suicide diary", Crick wrote that she hoped her death would test the laws that make assisted-suicide illegal.

In the state of Queensland, assisting in a suicide carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. Local police said they would not comment on whether charges would be filed against those who witnessed Crick's death until after the investigation is completed.

Crick's family and euthanasia campaigner Dr. Philip Nitschke said Tuesday that the fact that she did not have cancer made no difference in the case, and that it would not be used to prosecute those who watched her die.

"Our detractors will jump up and down and say, 'See, she didn't have cancer', but it really is academic," said Nitschke, who was present when Mrs. Crick was told she no longer had cancer. Nitschke later admitted that it had been a mistake not to reveal that publicly.

"What she had was the crippling consequences of major cancer surgery and whether it was technically cancer or the consequences of cancer treatment is largely irrelevant."

Nitschke explained that the scar tissue from Crick's previous cancer surgery was what had caused her suffering.

Disability rights advocates have opposed legalizing assisted suicide because the practice has been strongly influenced by society's view that the lives of people with certain disabilities are pitiful and undesirable, and by health care systems that continue to limit options such as providing in-home supports. The U.S. advocacy group Not Dead Yet, which has been joined by more than a dozen other major disability groups, calls attempts to legalize assisted suicide "a deadly double standard for people with severe disabilities, including both conditions that are labeled terminal and those that are not."

"Crick family wants answers" (The Age)



Legacy Of Chernobyl Lives On In Orphanage

June 8, 2004

PUGACHEVKA, UKRAINE--On Saturday, April 26, 1986 the world's greatest nuclear power accident took place at Chernobyl, Ukraine, which was then part of the Soviet Union.

Thirty people died immediately from the radioactive steam and fire released as the nuclear reactor core melted down.

An unknown number of others have died or experienced severe medical consequences from the fallout.

There have also been social consequences, particularly among children in the affected area -- which is still contaminated.

The Moscow Times ran a brief Associated Press story about an orphanage at Pugachevka, Ukraine, which houses 100 children with mental disabilities about 80 miles from Chernobyl.

Not all of the children are orphans. Many were abandoned by their parents.

Staff members at the orphanage said all of the children have been abandoned by the Ukrainian government, which provides the orphanage with just 1.6 hryvnas (about 30 cents U.S.) per child each month for their basic "foodstuffs".

"In fact, they are social outcasts," said the orphanage's director, Ivan Guliyev. "They have no future. They cannot be adopted for society. But they are God's children and have the right to live and be helped."

The facility is currently relying on foreign sources for much of its operating costs.

"A Stinking Compound 100 Kids Call Home" (Associated Press via Moscow Times)



ADA Committee Instrumental In Airport Changes

June 8, 2004

JUNEAU, ALASKA--The following four paragraphs are excerpts from a story in Tuesday's Juneau Empire:

Back in the 1970s, the Juneau International Airport was a nightmare for travelers with disabilities. The sidewalk was not wide enough for a wheelchair. The whole airport had one Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD) and it was in the security office. There were no reading boards for the hearing-impaired to know if their flights were delayed.

During the past decade, airport officials have worked with the city's Americans with Disabilities Act Committee to better meet the needs of people with disabilities. Because of the various improvements, the airport received a certificate of accessibility from the Juneau Chamber of Commerce for accommodating people with disabilities.

The city's Americans with Disabilities Act Committee is instrumental in making the changes.

"Many of the nine people on the committee are people with disabilities. They can try things out and give the airport feedback from the user's perspective," said John Kern, general manager of Capital Transit.

Entire article:
"Juneau Airport adds features to ease air travel for the disabled" (Juneau Empire)



Opening Doors: A Housing Initiative for the Disability Community

Opening Doors is a housing initiative designed to provide information and technical assistance on affordable housing issues to people with disabilities, their families, advocates, and service providers across the United States.


# EXPRESS EXTRA!!! From the Inclusion Daily Express Archives (Three years ago)


Campus Police Say Institution Is Unsafe For Police And Staff

By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
June 8, 2001

SONOMA, CALIFORNIA--"It's a time bomb waiting to go off," Officer Greg Wardwell told a reporter on Wednesday.

"It's only a matter of time before an officer or someone else in the equation is badly hurt."

Wardwell is one of six members of the Sonoma Developmental Center Police Department.

That's right, the institution which houses nearly 900 people with developmental disabilities has its very own police force.

And the officers don't feel safe.

Members of the department picketed in front of the facility, and were joined at times by other SDC employees. The officers say they need eight to 10 more officers, along with increased training and better safety equipment in order to be safe.

They also want permission to carry guns in the facility.

"We're responsible for 1,400 acres, 2 million square feet of building space, 900 clients, 2,000 staff members and we have only one officer on shift at a time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week," Officer Larry Rhodes complained to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.

The officers say they plan to continue the action until officials with the state's Department of Developmental Services respond to their demands. They say they can no longer work in such unsafe working conditions.

Of course, this begs the question:
"If there are unsafe working conditions for the police and the staff, what about the living conditions for those 900 people housed there -- the ones who cannot leave after their 8-hour shift?"

"Sonoma Developmental Center -- Investigations or Cover-ups?" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)


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