Disability rights advocates filed a class-action lawsuit today claiming that six Texas officials, including Gov. Rick Perry, violated the rights of more than 4,200 residents in state-supported living centers.
Three plaintiffs with intellectual and developmental disabilities filed the suit in a state district court in Travis County. The three, who the plaintiffs say have been involuntarily institutionalized for a combined total of 134 years, claim that state leaders violated their due process rights by not allowing them periodic judicial reviews to determine whether they still need sustained confinement.
“An entire class of citizens is being confined by the state of Texas, with no opportunity to challenge the need for continued institutionalization, despite changes in ability, commitment criteria and increased community services,” Beth Mitchell, senior managing attorney at Advocacy Inc., a nonprofit disability rights organization, said in a statement.
In addition to Perry, defendants include Health and Human Services Commissioner Tom Suehs, Department of Aging and Disability Services chief Chris Traylor, and the directors of Austin, Mexia and Lufkin state-supported living centers.
Perry's office could not be immediately reached for comment.