CENTRALIA - Parents and loved ones of profoundly disabled residents of the Downstate Murray Center failed to prove their family members would suffer irreparable harm if the facility closed, federal Judge Marvin Aspen ruled Monday.
The state's emphasis is on downsizing, but parents fighting the Murray Center closing warn that if Murray Center closes, all the state's other similar facilities will close as well.
Murray Center families represent the most organized opposition to disability centers closing statewide. With that obstacle out of the way, all of the state's five remaining centers are likely to close.
The state argued that putting the disabled in group settings would save the state $100,000 per person annually, part of their argument that the state budget could potentially improve if the center closed.
Aspen said the state is trying to "improve efficiency by serving more citizens, to effectuate public policy favoring the integration of the disabled when feasible, and to potentially improve the state budget."
The judge said despite the distress and disruption the closing will cause, stopping the closure does not show that outweighs the state's arguments to close Murray Center.
The plaintiffs may appeal, however. Rita Winkeler, president of the parents' group pictured right in above photo, said she would be consulting with their attorney over what to do next.
"I am praying for all of us and our residents at Murray," she told the Belleville News Democrat. "They are the ones who will suffer because government officials put money and power above the lives of the most fragile residents of Illinois."