UGA Libraries Logo

Interview with Sue Smith and Sue Jamieson, April 21, 2017

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
Toggle Index/Transcript View Switch.
Search this Index
00:00:44 - Background experiences in the Georgia disability care efforts

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Let me start by telling you my perspective about how this all happened...

Segment Synopsis: The interviewer, Cynthia Wainscott, shares how she, Sue Jamieson, and Sue Smith all worked Mental Health America and therefore knew each other before the Georgia v. Department of Justice hearing. Wainscott explains that all three of them, along with representatives from The Carter Center, would meet in the Zaban Room at The Carter Center to discuss the problems in Georgia's psychiatric care facilities. Wainscott shares the story of how the expose articles written by The Atlanta-Journal Constitution prompted investigations by the Department of Justice into the conditions of the Georgia mental health care system. Jamieson describes her role in upholding the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) as she served as lead council in the Olmsted vs. L.C. Supreme Court case in 1995.

Keywords: Americans with Disability Act 1990; Civil Rights for Institutionalized Person (CRIPA); Department of Justice; Disability Integration Project; Georgia Parent Support Network; Mental Health America; Olmstead vs. L.C.; The Carter Center; The Zaban Room

00:07:53 - Shortcoming in the original Georgia settlement agreement

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Well, I have and interesting Olmstead story...

Segment Synopsis: Smith shares how as a block grant reviewer for the federal government in the Texas Statehouse, she encountered riots of people demanding the treatment guaranteed by the Olmstead v. L.C. Supreme Court decision. Wainscott explains how the settlement agreement which was formulated by the Department of Justice (DOJ), failed to create timelines, measurable goals, or hold accountability. Wainscott explains that the advocacy groups did not support the settlement, and as a result, Wainscott wrote a letter to Judge Panell to inform him of the deficiencies in the Settlement Agreement. Wainscott explains that Judge Pannell agreed with the problems of the settlement agreement, which led to further hearings and eventual alterations in the original settlement. Wainscott explains that the DOJ's settlement agreement included a sentence which addressed community care for those who were recently released from the hospitals, a point which advocacy groups utilized in creating the new settlement agreement focused on providing support for community integration. Wainscott shares that Judge Pannell granted himself provisional approval (which allowed him to oversee and approve the new settlement agreement). Wainscott recalls that her pride in the settlement agreement was in the creation of required systematic change to the emergency response system of the Georgia state mental health hospitals.

Keywords: Americans with Disabilities Act 1990; Barack Obama; Department of Justice (DOJ); Olmstead v. L.C.; The Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA)

00:14:51 - Children and the settlement agreement

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Now another really nice thing that happened...

Segment Synopsis: Cynthia Wainscott talks about how Bill McDonald, governor Sonny Purdue's special adviser on mental health, was beneficial in creation of the new settlement agreement. Smith explains that the people who came into the office after the presidential elections helped form a network for the foundation of a mental health community. Smith shares that though the settlement agreement did not directly improve the condition of children in mental health institutions, it did indirectly assist children in the process. Jamieson adds that much work remains to be done in many sectors of the mental health community, and asks that Smith elaborate on what had actually been done to help the child population struggling from mental illness in the state of Georgia. Jamieson responds that the health care system of Georgia has failed to provide children with adequate mental health support in providing treatment to children that will last them through childhood and even into adulthood. Jamieson shares the story of how her daughter's treatment of mental illness required extended stays at a multitude of institutions, which Jamieson states is not possible through Georgia's current mental health care system.

Keywords: Childhood mental health care; Eve Byrd; Fuqua Center for Late Life Depression; William McDonald

00:20:29 - Georgia care for children with mental disabilities / Previous attempts at mental health care

Play segment

Partial Transcript: And I see the kids go to different places for short periods of time...

Segment Synopsis: Jamieson talks about the lack of extended care for children with mental disabilities in the state of Georgia. Jamieson shares that through her experience of interacting with the children before and after the settlement agreement, not much has changed in the status of child care in the state of Georgia. Smith explains that though there has not been a systematic change in the status of children mental health care, small changes have been made through organizations such as the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice. Wainscott explains that early intervention is necessary for the prevention of the worsening of psychiatric conditions. Wainscott talks about what made the settlement agreement work, and she emphasizes the need for a thorough understanding of facts on the part of advocacy groups, and additionally the need to have people with the knowledge and networks to create change. Smith recalls how in the 80's, there were disputes over the mental health department in the state of Georgia, over issues such as support for the use of prisons as a method of protecting people with mental illnesses by organizations like the National Alliance in Mental Illness (NAMI).

Keywords: Atlanta Journal Constitution; Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice; Georgia Regional Hospital, Atlanta; National Alliance on Mental Illness; Talley Wells

00:27:29 - Creating change in healthcare / Development of a community housing plan

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Sort of the last thing...

Segment Synopsis: Wainscott talks about the need for persistance in creating change in mental health departments. Wainscott, Jamieson, and Smith discuss the lack of funding in Georgia needed to provide resources for all of the populations with disabilities including children, the elderly, and those in jail/prisons. Wainscott states that the new leader of the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, Dr. Frank Shelp, was helpful in the settlement agreement re-modification process. Wainscott talks about the problems encountered in developing a housing plan for creating a community for those with developmental disabilities and mental illnesses. Wainscott explains that the advocate groups helped construct the housing plan, which has almost been carried out completely in the mental disability community. Jamieson gives credit to Lois Curtis and Elaine Wilson, the plaintiffs for the L.C v. Olmstead case.

Keywords: Bill McDonald; Dr. Frank Shelp; Elaine Wilson; Eve Byrd; L.C. v. Olmstead; Lois Curtis; Stan Jones; Tally Wells

00:34:36 - Judge Pannell and the settlement agreement / Advocacy group's relations with State of Georgia

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Talk about bringing the amici together...

Segment Synopsis: Wainscott talks about the reason behind the disapproval of the first settlement agreemenet proposed by the Department of Justice (DOJ). Wainscott shares stories told by Charles Pannell (the presiding judge over the settlement agreement of Georgia vs. the Department of Justice) concerning the treatment of patients in Georgia state mental hospitals. Smith shares that without the leaders within the advocacy groups, there would not have been change to the Georgia mental health care system. Jamieson talks about how the appointment of the independent reviewer, a government official who oversaw the construction of the Georgia mental disability community, to her, signified an official moment in the reconstruction of the Georgia mental health department. Cynthia talks about how the advocacy groups continue to maintain cordial relationships with Georgia Government officials despite attempts by Sonny Purdue's office holders to stop the advocacy group's settlement process. Wainscott talks about how the settlement agreement resulted in the closing of hospitals which failed to provide adequate services to those with mental disabilities.

Keywords: Department of Justice (DOJ); Judge Charles Pannell; Sonny Purdue; amici (friends of the court)

00:42:01 - Formation of the amici

Play segment

Partial Transcript: When I think about the one time that I most elated...

Segment Synopsis: Wainscott talks about the moment she signed the letter to Judge Charles Pannell that granted the advocacy groups the position of amici (person(s) who submit briefs to the court with the purpose of influencing the court). Wainscott explains that Judge Charles Pannell ordered the Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of Behavorial Health and Devlopmental Disabilities (DBHDD), and the advocacy groups to meet and resolve a new settlement agreement. Wainscott recalls a moment where Rosalynn Carter attended one of the meetings to offer support to the advocacy groups. Wainscott and Jamieson share how the advocacy group created long-lasting friendships among members.

Keywords: Rosalynn Carter; The Carter Center Mental Health Program; The Department of Justice (DOJ); The Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD); Thomas Bornemann