State Representative Charlie Meier (R-Okawville), State Representative Dave Severin (R-Benton), and State Senator Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) held a press conference on Wednesday where they issued new demands for joint hearings of the Illinois House and Senate Human Services and Mental and Behavioral Health Committees after news reports surfaced this week detailing horrific instances of abuse, neglect, sexual assault, and torture of individuals living in Illinois-run facilities serving developmentally disabled citizens.
In February 2023, every member of the House and Senate Republican Caucuses signed on to a letter demanding joint committee hearings to investigate reports of abuse and neglect at Choate Mental Health and Developmental Center. This week, ProPublica released shocking details of the abuse of residents living in state care at multiple facilities.
State Rep. Charlie Meier has been a vocal advocate for residents, families, and employees of facilities served by or serving facilities like the Warren G. Murray Center in Centralia. Meier said he has a plan to fix systemic issues at the state’s many developmentally disabled facilities and he wishes to work together to achieve results for the state’s most vulnerable residents.
“We have to keep in mind the people who live at Murray Center, the people who live in CILAs across the state, the people who live at Choate, they all have family members and loved ones that value them. We have to show we love and value these most vulnerable citizens of Illinois by ending this culture that is allowing for terrible instances of their abuse, neglect, sexual assault, and outright torture,” Meier said. “I stand ready to work together with the administration and legislative leaders to fix these issues and protect residents living in state care now and into the future. They deserve the best care we can give.”
Senator Terri Bryant signed the original letter demanding hearings into Choate and participated in Wednesday’s press conference. Bryant said the Pritzker Administration must answer questions.
“Republicans have consistently called for joint, public, bicameral hearings of the committees charged with overseeing our facilities that serve the developmentally disabled to get answers on the record from administration officials as to what is being done to stop these horrific abuses,” Bryant said. “I am now repeating my demand for public hearings, and I believe new leadership is needed in many facilities, especially at Choate.”
State Rep. Dave Severin spent years working in his family’s nursing home in his hometown of Benton. Severin was also a participant in the February 2023 press conference. Severin is also a member of the House Mental Health and Addiction Committee.
“We are here today in part because our request for hearings into the abuses at Choate were ignored by the Democrats,” Severin said. “With new and horrific reports of abuse and neglect at multiple facilities throughout the state, we must provide rigorous oversight and accountability, starting with holding immediate House and Senate hearings. The hearings must be open, honest, and transparent, and we need to hear from administration officials, facility officials, and officials from the Department of Human Services. Republicans have put forward a plan to fix many of the issues we are experiencing in this space and will not wait to continue our work to protect these vulnerable citizens.”