DOJ Investigation Concludes Rights Of Glenwood Resource Center Residents Being Violated
In a report released Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Justice stated its investigation determined that residents of the Glenwood Resource Center and Woodward Resource Center are being subjected to “unnecessary institutionalization” in violation of Title II of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).
The resource centers in Glenwood and Woodward, managed by the Iowa Department of Human Services (IDHS), provide care to around 300 individuals with profound intellectual and physical disabilities. Some of the residents also have behavioral disorders.
DOJ investigators determined “there is reasonable cause to believe Iowa fails to provide services to residents of the resource centers or those at serious risk of institutionalization in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs.”
The investigation concluded that the State of Iowa’s model for care of persons with intellectual and physical disabilities “is heavily biased towards institutionalization.” The investigators determined the state is failing to provide adequate services outside the resource center setting, such as behavioral, crisis and physical health support, for persons under its care with intellectual and physical disabilities.
“People with disabilities should not be unlawfully isolated and unreasonably denied access to the community-based services they need,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Civil Rights Division will actively defend the rights of individuals with disabilities to participate fully in community life.”
The investigation included tours of the GRC, review and analysis of documents, interviews with staff and management and observation of planning meetings.
Following release of the DOJ report, IDHS Director Kelly Garcia stated she’s not surprised by the findings and conclusions of the federal investigators but added that she’s committed to providing the most independent lives possible for persons under the care of IDHS.
The yearlong investigation was the second and final phase of DOJ’s comprehensive review of the GRC. In November 2019, the first phase of the investigation was launched by the Civil Rights Division and the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa and focused on conditions at the GRC.
The DOJ released the findings of Phase 1 in December 2020, stating it found reasonable cause that the constitutional rights of GRC residents were violated.
The Phase I investigation determined some GRC residents were the subjects of experiments conducted without their consent.
According to the DOJ report, one set of experiments involved over-hydrating residents as part of a pneumonia study. At least eight residents were on feeding tubes and therefore could not resist.
The report said officials knew the experiments were dangerous and some led to physical harm.
Other experiments involved psychological research on impulsivity and the DOJ said there were apparent plans by former GRC Superintendent Dr. Jerry Rea to conduct sexual arousal experiments.
The DOJ said GRC residents were subject to inadequate physical and behavioral health care with few safety or oversight measures. The DOJ noted severe deficiencies in oversight and quality management from both the GRC and the IDHS.