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updated: 5/24/2013 8:06 AM

Illinois temporarily halts transfers of disabled

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Associated Press

Illinois officials agreed Thursday to temporarily halt the movement of residents out of an institution for the developmentally disabled in the southern Illinois city of Centralia.

At the request of U.S. Northern District Court Judge Ruben Castillo, the state agreed to stop the transfer of all but one resident out of Murray Developmental Center until a hearing next week on a temporary restraining order requested by residents' families.

The lone resident who Castillo said can be moved is returning to his mother's home.

Gov. Pat Quinn ordered Murray and several other facilities closed last year as part of an effort to save the state tens of millions of dollars. But parents of Murray residents sued to stop or delay the closure, saying residents wouldn't get the care they needed elsewhere. Earlier this month, a panel of Illinois lawmakers voted against closing the center, as well as two of the state's prisons.

But Quinn announced in April that the state had started moving residents out of the Centralia facility.

Judy Sherwin, an attorney who represents the Murray Parents Association, said she was pleased with Thursday's decision but would not speculate what it could indicate about a potential court ruling on the closure itself, or its timing.

"We're very happy about it," Sherwin said. "These are the most vulnerable and in many ways helpless people. ...This is a place where they can receive treatment and they live their life there."

The state has until Tuesday to file a response with the court to the request for the restraining order. The hearing will be held May 30.

A spokeswoman for Quinn said the plaintiff's motion is without merit.

"The state is acting safely and responsibly to transition residents to community care, which numerous studies show provides a better quality of life," said Brooke Anderson. "Gov. Quinn is committed to rebalancing the state's system of caring for people with developmental disabilities so they can live more independent, fulfilling lives in the community."

Anderson pointed out the Quinn administration has closed two institutions for the developmentally disabled and has invested more in community care. She said the governor has been honored by disability groups for his action.

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