Deinstitutionalization Nationwide


Deinstitutionalization Nationwide — Oklahoma

Homeward Bound v. Hisson Memoiral Center (1989)
  • 1989 – The parties entered into a Consent Decree that imposed a permanent obligation on the state to provide individualized community services and support
  • 1987 – The Court issued a plan and order of deinstitutionalization
  • 1985 – The Law Center partnered with Homeward Bound to file a class action lawsuit against Hisson Memorial Center

In 1985, we partnered with Homeward Bound, Inc., to file a class action lawsuit on behalf of 600 people with developmental disabilities confined in the Hissom Memorial Center in Oklahoma, the great majority of whom were children. In the institution, the plaintiff class suffered abuse and neglect, were often restrained through force or overmedication, and were denied basic services like medical care or an education. The lawsuit aimed to move residents out of Hissom and into community living arrangements with quality supports and services.

The Court acted quickly and in 1987 issued a Court Plan and Order of Deinstitutionalization. The plan describes its guiding principles:

  • All persons are capable of growth and development.
  • All persons deserve to be treated with dignity.
  • All persons have value.
  • All persons must be involved in and carry the primary responsibility for the decisions which affect their lives. […]
  • All children have the right to a free and appropriate education.
  • All persons should live in and be a part of the community.

The order gave the state four years to move its residents into the community, and it gave guidelines on which the system should be structured.

In 1989, the parties entered into a Consent Decree that outlined the procedure by which residents must be moved into the community and provided with needed supports. Monitoring and sporadic litigation continued through the 1990s, and in 2005 the court terminated the case. However, in doing so, the court found that the Consent Decree imposed a permanent obligation on the state to provide robust, individualized community services and support. The order also required the state to obtain waivers for anyone who required placement in an institution.