Editorials

Justice for disabled man, punishment for workers

Parents in 2012 fought hard to stop state budget cuts from closing the Warren G. Murray Developmental Center in Centralia. A developmentally disabled man died there in March after being given a “punishment shower.”
Parents in 2012 fought hard to stop state budget cuts from closing the Warren G. Murray Developmental Center in Centralia. A developmentally disabled man died there in March after being given a “punishment shower.” znizami@bnd.com

An employee of the Warren G. Murray Developmental Center in Centralia apparently had a history of using showers to punish the profoundly disabled adults under his care. Todd Clementz, 46, was a frequent target.

Clementz was blind and deaf. He had been bathed and just wanted to go to sleep when the employee decided to keep him awake with a shower.

Clementz choked on his own vomit and suffered what must have been a horrifying, agonizing death. A coroner’s jury ruled his death a homicide.

Two employees appear to have been involved. One was fired and one remains on paid leave.

A person could guess that the state at least fired the worker who thought it was OK to be judge, jury and executioner of residents who failed to meet his expectations. One could also guess that the second employee might be in trouble for failing to stop the first employee or to report the punishment showers.

In any case, Clementz died March 30. Does it really take nearly eight months to decide whether criminal charges should be issued or to decide whether someone still deserves a job caring for the disabled?

The Illinois Department of Human Services at a minimum needs to stop paying someone implicated in a death. A person’s right to due process should not extend to the right to a paycheck.

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