In 2014, Disability Rights Washington’s AVID Program began investigating the conditions at the Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island, a secure treatment facility for people found in need of specialized sex offender treatment. After repeated visits to the facility, an extensive record review, and numerous resident interviews, AVID attorneys found that many residents with serious mental illness, developmental and intellectual disabilities, cognitive conditions, and traumatic brain injuries, were unable to understand or progress in the treatment being offered at the SCC, due to their disability.
In 2015, Disability Rights Washington prepared a federal complaint, alleging that the lack of appropriate care and treatment for residents with disabilities at the SCC was unconstitutional. Immediately prior to filing the complaint, Disability Rights Washington began settlement negotiations with the Attorney General’s Office over the issues identified in the lawsuit.
In 2017, after continued investigation and negotiation, Disability Rights Washington filed the complaint, along with a proposed settlement, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. The proposed settlement, which was approved by Judge Settle in July 2017, anticipates comprehensive changes to the SCC’s treatment program for residents with serious mental illness, developmental and intellectual disabilities, cognitive conditions, and traumatic brain injuries. Over the course of the settlement, a three-expert panel will assess the SCC’s progress and Disability Rights Washington will continue to conduct monitoring at the facility.
As part of the proposed settlement agreement’s class notice requirement, Disability Rights Washington created a video to play on SCC’s televisions, informing residents of the proposed settlement and the changes that it would bring.
KUOW: Mentally disabled predators languish at Washington’s Island Lock-up for Sex Offenders
The Seattle Times: State’s center for sex predators told to reform or be sued
The Seattle Times: Head of state’s commitment center for sexual predators resigns
Oregon Public Broadcasting: Washington State’s Special Commitment Center Faces New Challenge