Washington, DC – The Arc, the nation’s largest civil rights organization for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), which was founded by parents and family members who rejected institutions and fought for decades to close them, released the following statement on President Trump’s comments about creating new institutions for people with mental health needs.

“The Arc and our constituents are all too familiar with calls to reopen the institutions of the past, where people with all different disabilities were imprisoned against their wills and subject to horrific torture and abuse. For nearly 70 years, The Arc has focused on advocating for deinstitutionalization to ensure that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and other disabilities, can live meaningful, independent lives in the communities of their choice among their families and peers, with accompanying supports and services.

“We have spent decades building the community services we need and we still have so far to go to ensure that people with all disabilities, but especially those with dual diagnoses of I/DD and mental illness, have access to the critical services they require to support community living.

“People with I/DD and mental illness are far more likely to be victims of violent crime than perpetrators of it. The misguided idea that mental illness causes violence is inaccurate, harmful, and discriminatory to the disability community.

“Re-institutionalization would bring people with disabilities back into the dark ages of isolation and segregation. Nearly 30 years after the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act and its ‘integration mandate’, we have come so far. Yet 37 states still have institutions, and these comments impede our progress. Clearly, we have more work to do, and encourage people to join our efforts to build a world where people with disabilities do not face this harmful stereotyping,” said Peter Berns, CEO, The Arc.

The Arc advocates for and serves people wit­­h intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), including Down syndrome, autism, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, cerebral palsy and other diagnoses. The Arc has a network of over 600 chapters across the country promoting and protecting the human rights of people with I/DD and actively supporting their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes and without regard to diagnosis.

Editor’s Note: The Arc is not an acronym; always refer to us as The Arc, not The ARC and never ARC. The Arc should be considered as a title or a phrase.

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