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2020Talks - November 18, 2019 

Former Pres. Barack Obama cautioned Democrats to be more moderate, and incumbent Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards wins over Trump-backed Republican opponent.

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Tennesseans with Disabilities: TN is Breaking the Law

February 21, 2008

Nashville, TN – The Volunteer State may have some explaining to do, before a federal judge. Tennesseans with disabilities, who won the legal right to voluntarily end their confinement in institutions, say the state is breaking promises and the law, by cutting services that help them to live on their own. They've filed a contempt of court motion in federal court.

Donna DeStefano with the Tennessee Disability Coalition explains those affected are middle-aged and older people, victims of the "old way of thinking," which dictated that certain types of disabilities meant a person was automatically institutionalized.

"These folks that are 40, 50 and 60 years old, and have been living in institutions for a good portion of their lives, some of them forever, didn't have those opportunities."

The court had ruled that some Tennesseans living at Arlington Developmental Center had a right to live on their own, with state-provided assistance for things like shopping and therapy. Since then, however, the Department of Mental Retardation Services says it has had to make service-related cuts, because money is tight.

DeStefano explains the constant changes and cutbacks in assistance cause the kinds of disruption that can doom a person's chances for success in getting a job and living independently.

"The cumulative impact of these actions is catastrophic for the continued viability of the community service system, and the health, safety, and welfare of members living in the community."

Deborah Smith/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - TN