Governor Pat Quinn says Illinois will "soon" move the first residents out of the Murray Developmental Center in Centralia. Addressing a rally of "community care" activists Wednesday, Quinn said getting people out of large institutions and into smaller group homes provides a better quality of life.
"We believe in being able to eat breakfast at the time you want; eat lunch at the time you want; eat dinner at the time you want. We believe in being able to walk around the neighborhood and make new friends. Isn't that right? Yeah?" says Quinn.
But critics say some residents are so severely disabled that they're better served in an institutional setting. Eighty-four percent of the people living at Murray are categorized as having "severe" or "profound" mental retardation. Quinn's plan to close Murray is part of a broader effort to save money by closing state institutions. It comes less than a year after the state shut down the developmental center in Jacksonville and two mental health facilities.
Murray has about 575 full-time employees. A spokeswoman for the Department of Human Services says it's not yet known how many will be eligible for transfer or will lose their jobs.She says the state aims to have the Murray Center closed by late fall.