What will new ruling mean for DOJ settlement with state?

Posted at 6:37 PM, May 10, 2012
and last updated 2012-05-10 19:06:49-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – There is a twist in Virginia's landmark settlement with the US Department of Justice regarding how the state cares for people with intellectual disabilities.

A judge ruled Wednesday that the parents and guardians of those living at institutions have a right to intervene in the case. 

As a result, the ruling could potentially void -- or at the very least -- fundamentally change a deal reached in January that called for the state to shut down four of its five institutions.

The judgment would also transition about 1,000 residents, some of whom have profound disabilities, into the community over the next decade.

Jane Powell, whose sister lives with a severe intellectual disability at the Central Virginia Training Center in Lynchburg, said she felt closed off from the negotiating process.

"The judge agreed with us, that we had no voice in this," said Powell. "And that our relatives' rights were being trampled and we needed to have a voice."

However, Powell said it is still too soon to tell what this will mean for to the landmark settlement.