Four years ago former Illinois Governor Pat Quinn announced his plans to close the Warren G. Murray Developmental Center located in Centralia. The Governor scheduled its closure for the Spring of 2013. At that time, Murray Center served as the home to over 275 developmentally disabled residents and employed about 550 people.
The announcement caught many of us by surprise. We were disappointed that someone who has never stepped foot in the State Operated Developmental Center (SODC) would put politics ahead of the livelihoods of our most vulnerable citizens. Since the closure announcement was made in 2012, the Murray Parents Association, Rep. John Cavaletto, Senator John O. Jones, myself and hundreds of friends and family of Murray Center never gave up the fight to keep the state developmental center open.
We began our fight to keep Murray Center open by introducing legislation in the General Assembly. Next, the Murray Parents Association filed lawsuits in both state and federal court. In state court, the Murray Parents Association fought for the interests of the wards of the state and their argument was successful. In federal court, the Murray Parents Association fought to keep Murray Center open and received a favorable opinion from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, which affirmed “the state must also have a plan for allowing beneficiaries to choose either institutional services or home and community based services.” In essence, allowing legal guardians to choose whether or not to keep their loved ones at Murray Center or a group home. Since 2012, the friends and family of Murray Center never gave up and I am proud to say four years later that Murray Center remains open today.