Action Items for New Jersey Residents
In addition, New Jersey is considering legislation that would close most of its institutions and provide funding for people with developmental disabilities to live in their communities. The Autistic Self Advocacy Network has issued a statement, reposted below, asking New Jersey residents to write to their state legislators in support of the bill.
As many of you recall, earlier this month we worked with NJ Assemblyman Louis Greenwald and NJACP to introduce legislation which, if passed, will close five of New Jersey's seven institutions and shift the funds into community services. This effort has the potential to empower thousands of individuals with developmental disabilities, including many autistic adults, to live in the community. You can see a press conference announcing the legislation here, the bill text here and an endorsement from the New Jersey Star Ledger and the Philadelphia Inquirer here and here. This bill is an extremely important step towards ensuring a future with quality of life for thousands of adults with developmental disabilities living in New Jersey. Currently, the state ranks near to last in the country in regards to community services for adults with disabilities and uses institutions at one of the highest rates of any state. New Jersey ranks 49th out of 50 in terms of the average number of individuals segregated into institutions yet also ranks 40th out of 50 in terms of the amount of money allocated to community services funding. Click here for a comprehensive briefing paper on why A3625 is so important, providing supporting data, facts and analysis explaining why A3625 will lead to a better life for adults with developmental disabilities in New Jersey.
Ten years after the Olmstead v. L.C. decision ruling that people with disabilities have a right to receive services in the community rather than in segregated institutions, we still have a long way to go. No one should have to live in an institution. Today, we as a society possess the ability, the expertise and the sense of justice to end this system of segregation. In order to do that, we need your help. This action alert will use your zip code to send your letter supporting A3625 directly to your state legislators. Unfortunately, only New Jersey zip codes apply. If you live in New Jersey and are unsure as to your zip code, feel free to look it up by going to this link.
Please help support this effort by posting this message to your mailing lists, blogs, websites and other distribution mechanisms. Together we can empower people with disabilities everywhere.
Nothing About Us, Without Us!
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network
1660 L Street, NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20036
Although much more can—and should—be done to protect the civil rights of people with developmental disabilities and to enable the most disadvantaged to speak on their own behalf, this legislation is a significant step toward community inclusion. I urge New Jersey residents to take the time to respond to this action alert and, in the future, to keep a watchful eye on state legislators to ensure that more progress will be made.