Louis, the mildly retarded young victim of a sexual predator in Washington State, was put under 24-hour supervision with a for-profit residential care company, partly to protect the community in case Louis’ abuse turned him into an offender, says the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. He never had been in trouble with the law. He’d never threatened the safety of others. Yet the state placed him in the $42 million annual Community Protection Program — the closest thing Washington has to a prison without walls.
The publicly funded program pays companies an average of $93,000 a year per client to guard developmentally disabled people who are deemed to be dangerous. The state considers its program to be a success at protecting the public. What state officials don’t talk about is the alarming amount of violence vulnerable adults in this program are enduring at the hands of housemates and paid caregivers. Caregivers have shown porn movies and foisted drugs on clients, molested them, and stolen their money. Housemates have bitten, pummeled, raped and terrorized other clients and staff. Police responded more than 500 times to such incidents, resulting in more than 200 arrests of clients and seven staff between 2000 and 2004.