Thousands May Move Out of Illinois Mental Institutions

March 15, 2010

Download Story
Illinois has reached an agreement to allow for the release thousands of patients from mental institutions. It still must be approved by a federal judge.

Under the proposal, the state would have to allow some 4,500 patients to move out of mental institutions.

Benjamin Wolf is with the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, which filed a lawsuit in 2005 saying the mentally ill can't be forced to live in institutions.

The agreement would let them choose whether to move out - something Wolf says most of his clients are eager to do.

WOLF: We had a group of experts come in to determine that many of them haven't really been out doing things in the community for months or even years. And they tend to have very little control over their lives, and that causes them to deteriorate.

If approved, the state would help people with mental illness transition into apartments or assisted living situations. There are 25 of the mental institutions in Illinois, most of which are in the Chicago region.