Justice for Jenny (Respecting Rights of the Disabled)

  • by: Bonni Hess
  • recipient: Circuit Court of Newport News, VA

We ask you to sign this as a last resort cry for help, in hope that you, as do we, believe that people with physical or mental disabilities have the right to fully participate in all aspects of society. We have exhausted our resources in this matter and are appalled while we witness an individuals human rights violated and freedom of choice and dignity are stripped away by the very people and organizations that are charged with protecting them.

In April of 2008 we took into our employ a young lady with Down's syndrome. Over the past four years she has become a part of our family to the extent of actually residing in our home. She was an integral part of our business team as are all of our employees. She developed relationships and friendships with all of her co-workers and many customers and was well known and loved in our local community. In January of 2012, she stated that she had been kicked out of her home and was living with someone else. In the ensuing weeks she would come to work unkempt which raised concerns. She began wanting to stay at work instead of going home at the end of her shifts. She stated that she did not like it there and the person whom she lived with was never home. She would return to our store routinely throughout the day and would ride her bicycle around the block visiting people she knew at the other local businesses. In February of 2012, we contacted local agencies to express our concerns and seek guidance with no avail.

In March of 2012 she was hit by a car while riding her bicycle. While in the hospital she underwent back surgery which required a stay of more than a week. As her discharge date neared, we learned from hospital staff that her immediate family was not willing to take her in, thus she had nowhere to go. At this point we decided to take her into our home to care for her during her recovery. She stayed in our home from March 19, 2012 until May 16, 2012. We began shortly thereafter to seek services for her that would enable her to stay in our home. The battle that followed was not only unexpected but unbelievable.

The local CSB (Community Services Board) would not provide waiver services to help keep her in the community unless she was homeless, which is a term they themselves could not define. In order to get the services in which she was entitled we were forced to surrender her to the CSB at which time they placed her in a congregate setting. She was traumatized of course because for 28 years she had enjoyed the same freedoms, enjoyed by every other citizen, provided by the Constitution of the United States. She communicated on numerous occasions her expressed desire to leave and return to our home. Her communications expressing that desire to be released were rewarded by the facility staff taking away her phone, computer and denying her access to the facility phone.

When we were finally able to communicate with her again we gave her a number to an attorney that was able to rescue her from the facility. Shortly after coming back to our home she was summoned to a guardianship hearing initiated by her stepfather. Although a continuance was granted, the intent of the hearing was clear as she was hauled off by court order to yet another facility, against her will, to remain in limbo while she waits for her freedom of choice to be fully abolished.

By no fault of her own this individual because she has a disability has been removed from her friends, is no longer employed, enjoys none of the freedoms and opportunities offered by the community and is completely segregated and kept with people that are deemed like her miles away from her home.

We have spent countless hours researching, making phone calls, sending emails and writing letters. To date we have not found within the Code of Virginia, Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Olmstead Act, The United States vs. Commonwealth of Virginia Settlement Agreement, Virginia Department of Health and Developmental Services, Community Services Board Client Rights Summary, or the Social Security Act Section 1915 (c), etc., that gives anyone the right to do what is being done to this individual based on her disability.

We ask for your help to ensure this individuals rights are preserved. That her choice to not be in an institutionalor congregate setting be respected and she can return to a loving home with the supports and services she needs where she truly wants to be.

The following is a link to Jenny's PayPal account that we have created in order to help with her legal fees that are already in the upper thousands of dollar range. If there is anything you'd be willing or able to donate, we would appreciate it greatly. Please feel free to share this page with anyone that would be willing to participate in this great cause: https://www.paypal.com/us/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_flow&SESSION=58e_MoCFVa5dkqZsENlQwvQytzu5TQaP6tA1S032DDnB-xxQrY8qRGQB5FS&dispatch=5885d80a13c0db1f8e263663d3faee8da6a0e86558d6153d7722c6eea13ecd7b

We would like to thank everyone that has signed this petition so far. Your kind words and support have kept us going and motivated us to keep fighting for Jenny's rights. We have started a Facebook page for Justice For Jenny if you would like to join. There you will be able to find information about what you can do to help. The following link should take you directly to the page. Please feel free to "like" our page to keep up to date on what's going on with Jenny. Again, we sincerely appreciate every signature and humbly say thank you.


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