Excerpt from article in a series by Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism which appeared in WI State Journal and on WI Public Radio:
Kit Kerschensteiner, managing attorney with Disability Rights Wisconsin, a nonprofit advocacy group, said the allegations of abuse at Waupun are “occurring with such frequency” that they could merit an investigation by the U.S. Justice Department under the Civil Rights for Institutionalized Persons Act, which was previously invoked to bring about major changes in mental health care and discipline at the state women’s prison at Taycheedah. “We will continue to help individual inmates with their complaints, but we have a peashooter, and they have a cannon,” she said.
With complaints brought by inmates, a key issue is credibility. Kerschensteiner suggested that abuse occurs in part because guards know they have the upper hand in any disagreement. “Regardless of what actually happened, it always boils down to, who is going to be believed: a reputable guard or a convicted felon?” she said. “Corroboration is hard.”
For the full article: http://urbanmilwaukee.com/2014/07/23/cruel-and-unusual-waupun-prison-guards-accused-of-abusing-dozens-of-inmates/
Advocacy Specialist, 2-year LTE in DRW’s Milwaukee office to represent people with mental illness, developmental disabilities, and other disabilities in institutional & community settings. Handle individual cases, participate in systems advocacy and support people relocating from institutions to the community. For position description and application requirements, click here or call 414 -773-4646 . Salary DOE & excellent fringe benefits. Deadline: 8/1/14 Members of racial/ethnic minority groups and persons with disabilities encouraged to apply. EEO/AA employer.
DRW has long been concerned about voucher schools discriminating against students with disabilities and the impact that the increased concentration of students with special education needs has on the diminishing resources of the public schools. Click the following link to read a blog by one of the attorneys who is working on the voucher case with us: A War Worth Fighting.
Disability Rights Wisconsin has issued its 2013 Report to the Community: “Expect More.” The 2013 annual report highlights advances made in fair employment practices, youth transition, mental health services, and end of life protection for people with disabilities. Read the full report here and share in DRW’s good work.
Disability Rights Wisconsin is pleased that the Wisconsin Department of Health Services Chief Legal Counsel has issued a favorable finding – concluding the review into DRW’s release of its expert’s report on six deaths that occurred at the Milwaukee Mental Health Complex in 2012.
“DRW appreciates the thorough nature of the Chief Counsel’s review and reiterates its commitment to advocate for the highest quality of life for all persons with disabilities, particularly those who are most vulnerable,” commented Executive Director Daniel Idzikowski.
DHS’ letter to Governor Walker dated June 13 concluded that DRW did not commit a violation of its duty as the state’s designated Protection and Advocacy Agency.
For more about this development, follow this link: DRW Pleased with Outcome of DHS Review.
DRW Milwaukee Office Coordinator, Elise Cassidente, is the first recipient of the State Bar of Wisconsin’s Ryan Klesh Public Interest Legal Worker Award. Elise captures the essence of Ryan’s selflessness, work ethic, and humor in working to seek justice for our low-income neighbors, family, and friends. Letters nominating Elise noted that: “Her formidable intellect, passion for social justice, and tireless dedication to the people we serve truly capture the essence of Ryan Klesh’s tremendous legacy. Elise has dedicated her professional life to public interest law and to seeking justice for low income people”. This new award is named after Ryan Klesh, an administrative staff person for SeniorLAW at Legal Action of Wisconsin’s Milwaukee office from 2001 until his death in 2006.
Receptionist/Clerical Assistant, 25 hours/week (Mon.-Fri. – Noon to 5:00). Experience: database, word processing, MS Word, Excel, answering multi-line phone, screening and routing calls. Bilingual in Spanish/English required. $13-$16/hour DOE. Excellent fringe benefits. For detailed position announcement click here, or call 608-267-0214. Resume and cover letter by June 30 to: Disability Rights Wisconsin, 131 W. Wilson St., Ste. 700, Madison, WI 53703 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Members of racial/ethnic minority groups and persons with disabilities strongly encouraged to apply. EEO/AA employer.
Reprinted courtesy of the Dodge County Pionier:
PUGH NAMED TO PRESIDENT’S COMMITTEE
Daughter’s rare disability sparks passion and vision
by Gayle Rydstrom
Shortly after Erika Pugh was born 14 years ago, she was diagnosed with a rare disability called Rubinstein-Taybi Syndrome (RTS).
According to the RTS website, the disability ‘refers to a specific pattern of physical features and developmental disabilities which occur together in a consistent fashion. Individuals with Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome have short stature, developmental delay, similar facial features, and broad thumbs and first toes.’
“[Erika’s] early years were tough on our family,” said Horicon native Lisa Pugh, Erika’s mother. “She was fed through a tube for the first three years of her life and had many therapies and doctor appointments.”
Lisa discovered her strong views regarding inclusion for people with disabilities and her passion for advocating on behalf of other families because of Erika’s disability. Erika does not speak and has a significant disability, but she is the core of the Pugh family.
“My husband [Michael, a Mayville native] and I have a vision for including Erika in everything we do and to support her to live as independent and fulfilling life as possible,” said Lisa. “We strongly believe every person with a disability has something to contribute to our communities and they should not be segregated in our schools, our workplaces or our places of worship.”
On May 9, Lisa was appointed to the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities. It is a two-year term. Although Lisa will visit Washington at least twice each year, she and her family will continue to live in Madison. Click here to read the rest of DRW Public Policy Director Lisa Pugh’s Hometown Newspaper Celebrates her Appointment to Presidential Committee »
Disability Rights Wisconsin actively supports a new federal bill – H.R. 4574 – the Strengthening Mental Health in Our Communities Act of 2014. This bill maximizes access for individuals with mental illness to quality community-based services. In contrast, DRW has concerns about H.R. 3717 -a bill introduced by Congressman Tim Murphy which would exchange community-based services that have a proven track record of success with far more expensive, invasive, and ineffective interventions. The bill would also result in significant cuts to Wisconsin mental health funding. Click here to read the rest of DRW Supports Federal Law to Boost Community-Based Mental Health Supports »