Olmstead: Reclaiming Institutionalized Lives (Full-Length On-Line Version)

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Publication date: August 19, 2003

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The views contained in this report do not necessarily represent those of the Administration as this and all NCD reports are not subject to the A-19 Executive Branch review process.

An independent federal agency working with the President and Congress to increase the inclusion, independence, and empowerment of all Americans with disabilities.

Letter of Transmittal

September 29, 2003

The President
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

The National Council on Disability is pleased to submit to you this report titled, Olmstead: Reclaiming Institutionalized Lives. Under its Congressional mandate, the National Council on Disability is charged with the responsibility to gather information on the implementation, effectiveness, and impact of federal laws, policies, programs, and initiatives that affect 54 million Americans with disabilities. This report measures progress to date in the implementation of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in Olmstead v. L.C. and related Federal and State Government initiatives.

In February 2001 you announced the New Freedom Initiative (NFI), a comprehensive plan that represents an important step in working to ensure that all Americans have the opportunity to learn and develop skills, engage in productive work, make choices about their daily lives, and participate fully in community life. In your NFI, you committed your Administration to pursuing the swift implementation of the Olmstead decision and supporting the most integrated community-based settings for individuals with disabilities.

Overall, varying degrees of progress have occurred in the implementation of the Olmstead decision. However, given the many areas where progress has not yet been achieved and in recognition of the relatively brief time since the decision was rendered and governmental initiatives were undertaken, further efforts clearly are necessary to increase public awareness of Olmstead, provide education and clarification regarding the applications and implications of the decision to relevant entities, and provide resources necessary to both encourage and ensure effective adherence to both the spirit and intent of Olmstead.

In support of the NFI and to progress in the implementation of the Olmstead decision, I pledge our support to your Administration's commitment to ensuring that equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency become realities in the lives of Americans with disabilities. Under your leadership, I remain confident that we can continue to build an America where all citizens live independent lives in the community of their choice.


Lex Frieden

(The same letter of transmittal was sent to the President Pro Tempore of the U.S. Senate and the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.)

National Council on Disability Members and Staff


Lex Frieden, Chairperson
Patricia Pound, First Vice Chairperson
Glenn Anderson, Ph.D., Second Vice Chairperson

Milton Aponte
Robert R. Davila, Ph.D.
Barbara Gillcrist
Graham Hill
Joel I. Kahn
Young Woo Kang, Ph.D.
Kathleen Martinez
Carol Hughes Novak
Marco Rodriguez
David Wenzel
Linda Wetters
Anne M. Rader


Ethel D. Briggs, Executive Director
Jeffrey T. Rosen, General Counsel and Director of Policy
Mark S. Quigley, Director of Communications
Allan W. Holland, Chief Financial Officer
Julie Carroll, Attorney Advisor
Joan M. Durocher, Attorney Advisor
Martin Gould, Ed.D., Senior Research Specialist
Geraldine Drake Hawkins, Ph.D., Program Specialist
Pamela O'Leary, Interpreter
Brenda Bratton, Executive Assistant
Stacey S. Brown, Staff Assistant
Carla Nelson, Office Automation Clerk

Free our people, free our people
free our people.

- Supporters of MiCASSA


This report is issued in recognition of the victims of unnecessary institutionalization; our nation must not rest until it has delivered on the promise of freedom for all. The National Council on Disability expresses its appreciation to Judith Gran, Esq., with the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia, for drafting this report with the assistance of Max Lapertosa, Esq., and Ruthie Beckwith.