The 2010's







DRW fights to stop criminalization of people with disabilities

SB 6610 passes, which allows DSHS to transfer patients from the state hospitals to prison. Under the law, the patient has very limited ability to challenge the transfer. Patients who are in the hospital because they were found to be not guilty by reason of insanity (NGRI) can be moved to a prison cell under the law.  DRW files a lawsuit to stop its implementation. The judge said the case isn’t ready because no one has been moved, but DRW stands ready to respond when it becomes appropriate to prevent unjust transfers from the hospitals to the prisons.  Decriminalization of people with disabilities page.

State ordered to fund basic education

On February 4, 2010, a superior court judge rules in favor of the plaintiffs in a landmark school funding lawsuit, McLeary v. Washington. The court rules the State was in violation of its constitutionally mandated “paramount duty” to amply provide for the education of all children in Washington State. The court orders the State to determine the actual costs of providing all children with the knowledge and skills set forth in the State’s high academic standards, and to fully fund that actual cost with stable and dependable State sources. The lawsuit is brought by two families and the Network for Excellence in Washington Schools (NEWS), a coalition that includes DRW and more than 75 other organizations and individuals. “State must fund basic education, says judge”, Envoy, Spring 2010.

State TBI funding expanded

The Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Council, chaired by DRW Executive Director Mark Stroh, successfully withstands a legislative effort to "scoop" money from the TBI Trust Fund for non TBI related purposes.  The effort saved $750,000 for TBI supports and services in fiscal year 2011.  The additional funds are to promote TBI-related health insurance awareness and reform, expand mutual support group services with an emphasis on veterans, pursue TBI related housing initiatives, and develop first-responder training on TBI issues.  “TBI advocacy efforts move forward”, Envoy Summer 2010.

Abuse and neglect study group issues recommendations

DRW participates in DSHS-commissioned study group tasked with the review of the abuse and neglect response system in Washington and eight other states.  The study group issues a report with recommendations including improving the system by adding more complaint investigators, conducting meaningful quality assurance activities and implementing a “bill of rights”.  “Abuse and neglect study group issues recommendations”, Envoy Winter, 2010.


DisAbility Rights Galaxy launched

DRW launches its Galaxy platforms and enters the world of blogging and social networking.  DisAbility Rights Galaxy is an external website.

Washington high court strikes down rules that violate rights of children with disabilities

The Washington State Supreme Court struck down two state regulations that allowed the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) to make automatic reductions to Medicaid-funded personal care services, for children with disabilities who live with their parents. DRW with Co-Counsel, Sirianni Youtz Spoonemore, represented the plaintiff, Samantha A., after DSHS appealed a lower court decision. An estimated 3000 children with disabilities would be positively affected by this outcome. “WA high court strikes down rules that violate rights of children with disabilities” Envoy, Summer 2011.

DRW assesses voting accessibility

In an unprecedented effort, DRW visits each county election office during early and general election periods. DRW collects information on accessibility of everything from walkways, doors, elevators, parking lots to accessible voting units and the election office voicemail and website. Data collected is shared with the Secretary of State, county auditors, election supervisors, and county disability advisory committees to promote effective accessible voting practices, and help identify areas that need improvement. “County election accessibility reports unveiled.” Envoy, Summer, 2011.

Washington Supreme Court adopts DRW argument

A unanimous Washington State Supreme Court rules that guardians for people with disabilities cannot spend their ward’s money on advocacy work unrelated to the individualized interests of their wards.  DRW files an amici brief in this case that advocated for this result. “WA Supreme Court adopts DRW argument”, Envoy, Winter 2011, and “DRW urges WA Supreme Court: lives not empty shoes”, Envoy, Summer 2011.

Response to abuse improved

As part of a task force convened by DSHS in 2010 to improve the abuse response system,  DRW works closely with other advocates to achieve significant victories in the effort to prevent and better respond to abuse, including requiring that DSHS inform abuse victims about their rights, involving advocates in the quality assurance process, and increasing licensing fees for adult family homes, to ensure that they are properly monitored.  “Improve Washington’s response to abuse”, Envoy Summer 2011.  


Litigation suspended as State works to reform kids’ mental health services

Following a lengthy investigation, DRW files a federal class action lawsuit along with the National Center for Youth Law, the National Health Law Program and Perkins Coie on behalf of children and youth on Medicaid with a mental illness or condition in need of intensive in home and community based mental health services.  After thirteen months of negotiation with the state, an interim agreement is reached which suspends litigation and allows the state to put together an agreed-upon framework to reform kids' mental health in Washington.  Kids’ community-based mental health project page.

DOJ awards DRW grant to tackle sexual assault in facilities

The Department of Justice’s Office on Violence against Women awards DRW a three-year grant to improve the statewide sexual assault response system. The project focuses on adults with disabilities who receive long-term care supports and services.  “Grant sets sight on sexual assault in facilities”, Envoy, Fall, 2012.

National report “Devaluing People with Disabilities” released

DRW in partnership with the the National Disability Rights Network and with contributions from nationally renowned experts, releases a report with recommendations on medical procedures that violate civil rights and result in medical discrimination.  Medical procedures that violate people's civil rights page.

Abuse response is too little, too late

Having conducted an in-depth investigation and contracted with two nationally-recognized abuse response system experts, Disability Rights Washington and Columbia Legal Services issue a new report titled, “Too Little Too Late”.  The report exposes a Washington state-run system ineffective at keeping people safe.  It outlines five recommendations for the state which include mandating prompt investigations for abuse and neglect and allocating sufficient staff to complete investigations.  “Abuse response is too little, too late”, Envoy, Fall 2012.

DRW receives national award for work with advocates

The National Disability Rights Network bestows its honored TASC award to DRW for innovative support of self-advocacy efforts.  "DRW receives national award for work with advocates", News.


“Lost and Forgotten” released

With the goal of informing the Washington State Legislature, DRW tours eight county jails across Washington, to better understand how people with disabilities end up in jail, and the conditions under which they are held.  DRW gathers stories of individuals with mental health issues or other disabilities, especially when the disability prevents the person from assisting in his/her own defense, and compiles this into a report and video. “Lost and Forgotten” page, and “Report evaluates mental health in jail” Envoy, Spring 2013.

New law to reduce incarceration of people with disabilities

Legislation is introduced this year to address the competency evaluation process, SB 5551.  The bill passes and goes into effect at the end of July, 2013.  Under SB 5551, counties with a backlog of people waiting in jail for an evaluation may now appoint evaluators and bill DSHS for the cost. 

“The Megaphone Effect” released

DRW in collaboration with patients at Western and Eastern State Hospitals, releases video “The Megaphone Effect: Reclaiming Recovery”.  The video explores the evolution of a patient rights group at Western State Hospital.  The group, known as “The Sanka Party” formed in response to lost rights and privileges after one Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity (NGRI) patient walked away from an Eastern State Hospital sanctioned field trip.  The patients’ goal in making the video is to educate lawmakers and the public, and ultimately change the punitive policies.  “DRW launches ‘the Megaphone Effect’”, ENVOY, Spring 2013.