American Supreme Court 1999 Olmstead ruling changed the landscape for millions of disabled Americans – but some still wait. Promises Kept, Promises Unfulfilled by award winning ZUMA Press photojournalist Robin Rayne is an in-depth case study on how 20 years later this important law has helped many but due to bureaucracy many more are still without help the law promises and should ensure. Maurice Smith, 37, has been locked up in the forensic unit of East Central Regional Hospital in Augusta, Ga for more than a decade, but was never charged with a crime. Smith asks to asks anyone who will listen the question uppermost in his mind for the last 11 years: ”When am I getting out of here? Teresia Blackshear comforts her son Mikaiah Epps, 20, who lives in a temporary crisis home because of his intellectual disability and mental illness. ‘He can’t live at home because my husband fights with him,’ she said during a visit. Mikaiah spent one year in a county jail because no other facility was available, she said. He awaits a Medicaid waiver that would provide better supports, but there are more than 6,000 other Georgia residents also in the waiting list. Whenever family was at stake, Nafeesah Shaheed was a fierce and tireless fighter. Until a medical accident catastrophically starved her brain of oxygen, leaving her bedridden and no longer able to speak, the social worker with advanced degrees from Columbia University and Hunter College in New York devoted her life to rescuing and reuniting troubled families. She was wherever families were at risk. Her husband and her eight children resolved to bring her home. They succeeded with the help of lawyers at the Atlanta Legal Aid Society and a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling that Legal Aid originated. October 2020 marks the twentieth anniversary of the Olmstead case, this epic U.S. Supreme Court decision solidified the rights established in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that individuals with disabilities have the right to live their lives in the community and in the most integrated setting possible.
Scott Mc Kiernan, Founder & CEO, ZUMA Press