Resource: Lessons Learned from Georgia’s 2010 Olmstead Settlement: The Good, the Bad, and the Limitations of a Justice Department Olmstead Settlement

By: Talley Wells

We were crushed.

It was Thursday, January 15, 2009, the day Captain Sully piloted his aircraft onto the Hudson River.

It was five days before President George W. Bush left office. And, it was the day the United States Justice Department and Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue entered into a settlement over the state’s mental health institutions.

The Justice Department spent more than a year investigating incidents of abuse and neglect in Georgia’s state-run psychiatric hospitals. Before the settlement, all signs pointed to litigation. The hope was that litigation would transform Georgia’s 19th-century mental health system of confinement and segregation into a 21st-century community-based system of independence and opportunity for people with significant mental health disabilities.