Federal authorities are requiring facilities in Wisconsin where people with mental disabilites live to keep their doors unlocked. Relatives of some residents fear that will increase the risk that someone will wander out of the facility and into harm’s way, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports.
Federal officials insist that locked-door policies violate residents’ civil rights and that in many cases, door alarms and other alternative security measures are sufficient.
But for many parents and administrators, Robin Litkea’s escape and subsequent death illustrate the risks residents face in unlocked environments.
Litkea vanished one early evening in the summer of 2001 from a Juneau County residential facility for people with mental disabilities. Fifty-one-years-old at the time, Litkea had the mental capacity of a 6-year-old and a history of wandering away.
His whereabouts were a mystery until last October, when authorities discovered his skeletal remains along a river.
Soon after Litkea disappeared, state inspectors discovered that the security alarm in his facility was not activated during the day, only at night.